Skip to content

Announcements

Get the support and information you need for your behavior, development and health related questions.

For more information:
Health and Parenting Health Center
Raising fit Kids

How do you deal with tantrums in public?
avatar
Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
I remember leaving Starbucks before my non-fat latte was even on the counter, apologizing to my friends, and carrying my screaming 18-month-old out the door and straight home. Almost every parent has a story about a full grocery cart left in the checkout line, or an uneaten meal at the restaurant because you needed to flee the scene during your child's temper tantrum.
The fact is tantrums are a normal part of childhood, especially during toddlerhood. Such behavior can occur for a number of reasons, including being tired or hungry, feeling over-scheduled or sensing inconsistencies in their routine, or maybe because yesterday your little one got a treat at the grocery store, and now that you're shopping at a different store today, he doesn't understand why he can't have the same treat again? and right now!
The following are some tips you can use to minimize the occurrence of tantrums with your child:
1. Avoid tantrum situations. If your daughter always has a meltdown on your second errand, limit your to-do's to one task before her nap and another task after.
2. Bring novel items along when you travel. Keep a special toy or book in your bag or in the car for times when you need something to distract or occupy your toddler. Try to bring something he hasn't seen before, or that only comes out during specific occasions, such as while you're shopping or dining at a restaurant.
3. Have healthy snacks on hand. Since we already know that hunger can be a tantrum trigger, keep healthy snacks in your bag in case you are away from home longer than expected and your toddler wants to munch.
4. Make sure your child is well rested. Overly tired kids are more prone to tantrums than those that get adequate rest. Ensure that your child gets plenty of sleep and try to keep sleep schedules as consistent as possible.
5. Praise good behavior. Any outing with a well-behaved toddler deserves lots of recognition -- hugs, kisses, even a phone call to Daddy.

And when all else fails:
1. Give your child one warning. "I'm giving you one chance to calm down. Then we are leaving the play area." Make sure you follow through. One play date cut short from a tantrum says Mommy means business.
2. Ignore unpleasant behaviors. You can't always walk away from your child when you are in public. But you can ignore them and continue what you're doing while waiting for your toddler to calm down by himself.
3. Leave the location. Simply scoop her up and leave. It may be hard to leave your cup of coffee or a cart full of groceries. But it does work.

Have you experienced any public tantrums with your children? How did you handle the situation?
Reply
 
avatar
toddlerfun responded:
after being cooped up do to a blizzard, we made it to walmart. my 3 yr old lil boy who was done with the crowds, decided life couldnt go on without, well everything. soo, as i was trying to grab the last of staples incase we got stuck home again. i listened to him scream at the top of his lungs, telling me i was not his bestfriend. i just ignored it and smiled at the people around. finally he gave up. after we got home he said i was his bestfriend and asked me why he was soo bad at the store, lol. i just answered with sometimes we all have our moments but next time could we talk about instead of yelling. no tantrums in last few days, but i do not want to go back to walmart for a little while.
dont know if i handled it the way others would of liked but just leaving wasnt an option and getting upset myself would of encouraged more screaming. though usually i just tell him to go in his playroom and yell it out at a stuffed animal and come tell me when he is ready to talk about it.
 
avatar
An_222081 responded:
My friend's 3 year old started having a tantrum just after they went into a mall. No he wasn't tired or hungry - he wanted to go to the toy store, not on that day's agenda. He had pulled this a few too many times. Julia gave him one warning, and when he wouldn't stop screaming, laying down and kicking his feet - she laid down beside him, screamed and kicked her feet too. He was so surprised and the tantrum ended then and there. Of course, Julia didn't to to that mall again for a while, but her little guy didn't have nearly so many tantrums after that.
 
avatar
stargazer_dks responded:
I have a serious question. When does a child become an adult? The reason I ask is because when children have had very tramatic childhoods they seem to behave like very young children when they are ill,tired or stressed. I know several people that have real temper tantrums but are 25-26 years old. They are family member's but unrelated to me. What should a person do when faced with that situation? At home? In public.
 
avatar
momuv4girls replied to stargazer_dks's response:
When encountering an adult throwing a "temper tantrum", like yelling, throwing stuff, being verbally aggressive, the best approach is to leave.
Take your children, husband or whomever and leave - - plain and simple. Give them no attention, don't try and talk them out of their melt-down - just leave.

Take care,
-Kathleen


Helpful Tips

Help kids learn to swallow pillsExpert
I found this inexpensive but clever cup a few years ago, and it helped my kids learn to swallow pills without a fuss: ... More
Was this Helpful?
16 of 25 found this helpful

Expert Blog

Child Health 411 - Ari Brown, MD

Educated parents are empowered parents! Get clear answers to your parenting questions from Dr. Ari Brown...Read More

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.