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Toddler Tantrums? Parenting Tips on How to Manage Public Tantrums.

Updated on February 6, 2013
We all have our good days and we all have our bad times
We all have our good days and we all have our bad times | Source

Managing the Meltdown

The day starts off badly. Too little sleep, you arrive late for the parent and tot drop in and on the way home you have to get groceries. Little angel Amy is just not co-operating and now she's lying on the floor screaming that she wants a balloon and she wants it NOW!!!!!!!!

Yikes, as parents we've all been there, well I certainly have, and how we behave in that moment is perhaps going to set up if this little routine plays itself out again and again.

First thing is to begin to understand where it all started. Not at the the grocery store, you guessed that, right? Little Amy picked up on the mood of the day. Stress, rush and an exhausted parent. Perhaps you were a little snappy, perhaps you are just so exhausted paying any attention to Amy's needs in the moment is a step beyond and Amy, bless her connected little psyche, got it.

Meltdown's can and do happen for a variety of reasons. However there are three factors that usually predict they will -

  • one is when the chid is over-tired,
  • the second is when the child is hungry
  • the third is when the parent is overwrought or tired and not paying attention

Equally, there are preventive steps that can contribute to the temper tantrum being less likely:

  • Grocery shop at a time when your child is well-rested and not around meal times
  • Take a healthy snack to the store with you and tell the child you will not be buying candy or gifts today. This trip is only for groceries
  • When children are younger or pre-verbal do not make a habit of purchasing a snack or candy or a treat for them every time you go to the store. This will set them up to expect it.
  • Try to make shopping trips manageable in the length of time you need to spend there. If you have to go for a long or large bulk shopping trip try and leave the child with a friend, family member or neighbour.
  • Pay attention to your child's needs. If they start becoming cranky, need to use the washroom or get tired respond to their needs practically. Maybe the trip is essential or maybe it is over ambitious to try and combine grocery shopping, purchasing birthdays gifts and browsing the sale rack on the same day.
  • Depending on the age of your child take something with them they can do whilst in the grocery cart or buggy or make a game of the shopping trip. Rhymnes and numbers and eye spy are all good interactive games that can make a shopping trip happier.

If the tantrum is in full throttle stay calm. Remove the child from the situation and say no firmly. Trying to negotiate at this point is like trying to discuss Pythagorean theorem with a drunk!

Don't worry about other people - if they have had children they should understand, if you get criticial looks ignore them. Most important now is to pay attention to the needs of angel Amy who is behaving more like devil Dirk. Let the cashier know you will be back as you leave the trolley with shopping at the checkout - trying to do both will stress you and your child and will not make the calm down quicker.

Hugging, holding close and stroking the hair are strategies that may work or, if you have a fusser for whom physical contact escalates the situation, hold his or her hand and get down to their level as they sniffle it out. Breathe, stay calm and patient. They will recover and so will you!


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    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks for reading jpcmc - and yes, understanding routines and how your child is affected goes a long way to help.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Great tips and info. My daughter is just 10 months and I'm quite anxious to get to this phase. Any information will help. I beileive that knowing your child's routines can help with the tantrums.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ruby. I often feel like a tantrum when I'm hungry too:-)

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 6 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Great hub. Tantrums are so normal. Thanks for the reminders of rest and hunger. So true!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thank you so much Michele. Appreciate you reading and voting.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Oh Sandy - you should write a hub about this - I laughed outloud. Just imagining those flying pickles. Thanks for reading.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a wonderful hub, I hope more people read it. I don't have any small children anymore, but this up would have helped me if I did. Wonderful hub and voted you up!

    • SandyMcCollum profile image

      SandyMcCollum 6 years ago

      Sometimes an outburst in the store comes from my mate, rather from my kids. My husband used to choose the groceries we buy while I push the cart. He has a little game he likes to play in the grocer - he picks up items, says, "Heads up Baby!" and as soon as I see, he's tossing a jar of pickles at me. Several times I didn't see the projected item coming and it broke on the floor. Plus, if I even looked at something too long he'd loudly tell me what the price is, meaning I can't have it - even tho I was just looking at it, I hadn't asked to get it. That's embarrassing! I warned him three times, on three different shopping trips. Now, he shops alone, and he does ALL the shopping. I refused to be embarrassed in public like that again. He's become a very good shopper and all I have to do is put it away and cook it for him. It works well for me, but I know sometimes he wishes I'd just do the shopping. I could relent, it's been like 8 years he's been doing all the shopping, but I've learned to like not grocery shopping LOL!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thanks Simone. It makes shopping a lot nicer for the rest of us too:-)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Helpful advice, this! I especially like your tip on not shopping when kids are hungry or making the trip too long. Heck, adults by themselves could benefit from this wisdom, too- it can help prevent mood crashes! :D

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thank you for reading.

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 6 years ago from Nebraska

      Really good ideas. I love that you mentioned not worrying about what others think. So important but so hard to do!