If there was ever a more unreasonable creature on earth than a toddler in the grocery store line rocked by the fact that you just told her, “no” to a chocolate bar, I have not met it. If there is one stage in life that is the bain of a parent’s sheer existence it is the stage when your beautiful angel wants to assert his or her independence and will that is directly in conflict with yours. Otherwise known as a meltdown or tantrum. Know for reference that this almost always happens with an audience, and there is almost always someone looking on disapprovingly. (Because that sure does help the situation!) This can leave even the most seasoned parent flustered, embarrassed, irritated and frazzled.
What are some tricks to dealing with this type of behavior? Let us share a few.
1. Explain ahead of time
Children thrive on routine and understanding what is happening. Yes, this even applies to the unreasonable toddler. For example, if you are running into the store for only a gallon of milk, tell your child ahead of time, “We are only running in for 1 thing, milk is all I can get right now, no candy or toys this time.” It really does help when they know what to expect.
2. Diversion works wonders
You have to integrate this strategy before the tantrum reaches its peak or it will not work. If you happen to see the telltale signs of a tantrum coming on, quick diversions are helpful. An example is back to that grocery line, as soon as you see the eyes light up at all that strategically placed candy, try to distract by asking for help unloading your cart, offering to let your child pay for your purchases or asking your child to help you think of what they would like to make for dinner when you get home.
Sometimes as your child gets louder and you get quieter with an element of sternness you will find that their reaction is to quiet just a bit to hear what you are saying. Let them know sternly what consequences may happen if they continue. (NOTE: This technique works best for older children (ages 4+)
4. Avoid the scene
You know your child better than anyone, which means you know how to avoid certain buttons being pushed. When children are over tired, over stimulated, overwhelmed or hungry you are much more likely to experience meltdown. If you can, avoid entering into a situation with a child already experiencing some of these symptoms. Ask hubby to pick up that gallon of milk on the way home if you have already missed naptime and just avoid the whole fiasco all together.
We have all been there, some of us more than others. Temper tantrums in public are no fun, but you will survive. Next time when you see some other poor struggling mother in public dealing with a tantrum, idle up next to her and just quietly say, “I so know what you are going through, it will get better, I promise.” After all, aren’t we all in this together?