There’s very few things that match the embarrassment caused when your toddler decides to have a full-on meltdown in public. Although we’ve come a long way over the years, there’s still a somewhat old-fashioned, strict view on parenting today, where children are still deemed to be seen and not heard.
Strangers, unless they’re parents of young children themselves, don’t see, or frankly care about, your child’s need to express their feelings or their curiosity about new things. Instead, they’re unfortunately often seen as a nuisance – especially when they start throwing a tantrum!
It’s this negativity and potential backlash that can cause parents to feel humiliated when their little one lets loose in public. However, what you need to realize is that toddler tantrums, especially in public, are an unavoidable part of parenting. Also, who cares what anyone else thinks?
Those who have been there sympathize completely and those who haven’t? Let them judge!
Your toddler isn’t the only one causing havoc. You can rest assured somewhere, right now, there’s another toddler throwing an epic public tantrum and a parent trying desperately to stop it.
The good news is, there are ways you can tame your toddler’s public tantrums and below you’ll discover some of the most effective, tried and tested methods.
Move To A Less Crowded Area
If the tantrum is taking place in a pretty crowded area, the first thing you can do is move you and your toddler to a quieter area. This will ease your own mind as you’ll be less focused on the people around you and you’ll be in a much calmer place emotionally to deal with the situation.
It’s important to note here that if you do move them, don’t drag or angrily pull them to one side. The anger and tension will be picked up on by your toddler and it’s going to make the tantrum a lot worse, rather than better. Instead, remain calm (easier said than done I know!), take them by the hand or pick them up if they refuse to move, and walk slowly over to the quieter area.
You’ll often find, quieter areas also calm your toddler a lot quicker. For some reason, public places do tend to be a trigger for toddlers when it comes to emotional outbursts. Sometimes the release via a tearful tantrum is exactly what they need to release the emotional build-up. It’s a natural response and often makes the rest of the outing a lot easier once they’ve got it out of their system.
Resist The Urge To Scold Your Toddler
This is probably hands down the hardest tip to follow. When you’re faced with a screaming child after you’ve had very little sleep, a stressful time trying to just get out of the house, and now what feels like a million strangers judging you, it’s enough to push any parent over the edge! However, as mentioned above, anger will only ignite the situation, rather than diffuse it.
Don’t Feed Them Attention
OK, so it’s hard to ignore your screaming child and continue doing what you were doing. So, we’re not suggesting you do that here. What we are suggesting, is once you’ve taken your toddler to a quieter area, leave them to cry it out and don’t feed them attention until they stop crying, if reasoning with them doesn’t work. Sometimes, this may be the only thing that works.
Take out a book, your phone or anything else you can focus on. Sure, you might not be able to actually read the book, but it gives a pretty clear message to your toddler – their tantrum isn’t working. By seeing you’re focusing on something else, they will stop eventually and that’s when you can pay attention to them again. This tip is particularly effective for toddlers that are being intentionally defiant – we aren’t suggesting this be used every time.
It may take a few attempts on different outings for this tip to work. However, gradually your little one will start to realize that public tantrums don’t get them what they want.
Don’t Give In
If the tantrum is a result of you saying no to something your toddler wants, it’s really important not to give in. If you’re tired, it’s been a particularly hard day, or you simply want to stamp out the tantrum as quickly as possible, it can be tempting to just give them what they asked for. After all, surely it’s worth the peace and quiet?
Unfortunately, while it may temporarily help ease the problem, you’ll actually be creating a more long-term, worse problem if you cave in. Why? Because your toddler has now learnt that throwing a tantrum when you say no, gets them exactly what they want.
So, the next time you’re out and you say no to your toddler, they’ll know exactly what to do. Never give in just to make the situation temporarily easier.
Prepare Useful Responses
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you’re not going to be able to stop that tantrum in its tracks. So, in this situation, it’s worthwhile having some pre-prepared responses ready to go.
When your toddler is mid-tantrum, you can guarantee somebody is going to say something. Whether it be a simple “oh dear, he/she isn’t very happy this morning!” or “Have you tried doing this?” – it can be really frustrating, embarrassing and difficult to think of a suitable response right there in the moment.
So, to combat this, you can have a list of responses in your head ready such as “We appear to be having a few technical difficulties”, or “We’re taking it in turns, once he’s finished it’s my turn”. Adding a little humor to the situation, while also showing you are in control (even if it looks like you aren’t), will usually be enough to stop any further comments.
Overall, public tantrums aren’t easy to deal with and it is extremely difficult sometimes to stay calm and collected. However, if you follow the above tips, you’re more likely to see a positive result. Just remember – not all tantrums can be prevented or eliminated quickly. Just repeat to yourself in your head, “this isn’t going to last forever, it will be over soon”. Having your own calming mantra to repeat back to yourself can work wonders!
Have any tips or stories of your own to share? We’d love to hear them!