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