How to Handle Public Tantrums

Being a parent is stressful enough day-to-day, and the old saying, “when it rains, it pours” seems to be true the day your child decides to have a tantrum… in public nonetheless. Sometimes trying to seem like a good parent in front of others and not losing your cool in public can be incredibly hard and frustrating. If your child does throw a tantrum and you feel helpless, fear not! Here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

You’re walking through the grocery store, everything is fine… and the suddenly, a meltdown over no candy. The best thing you can do is to remain calm. Getting frustrated and yelling or being visibly aggravated can set your child off more. Kids like to do what you do and will feed off of your demeanor. Keeping control of your emotions will help restore the peace much faster. You most likely won’t bring your child to his senses by raising your voice and making threats. You also don’t want to cave in either- this will only reinforce bad habits and make the next tantrum that much harder to end.

Instead of raising your voice, stay calm and firmly tell your child they need to stop throwing a fit. If they keep it up, it’s time to use your most potent weapon: the exit door. Even if you’re in the middle of a shopping trip, you can always whisk your child out of the store. Children like to shop, and there is a good chance they will stop once they realize the consequences of their behavior. Also keep in mind children are more likely to lose their temper if they are hungry or tired. Try and make sure your child has a snack on hand. And if they are tired, maybe this day isn’t the one for a marathon-shopping trip. Try and complete the essential errands as fast as possible and you’ll be rewarded with a calmer child.

One of the biggest tantrum starters is frustration. If you know your child always wants to visit a certain store, or always wants candy, avoid those places, or be willing to go in and it not be an issue. Thinking through the probable reactions and consequences and their alternatives doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a smart parent. Tantrums are also scary for children – many times they work themselves up into a fit. Once the tantrum is on the downward slope, reassure your child with hugs and make sure to acknowledge their feelings, explaining patiently the consequences of their actions.

If your child does have a bad tantrum in public, don’t panic. Every parent has been there. You might get a few looks, but remember to focus on your child and ignore the rest. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent if your child has a tantrum, it only means you’re the parent of a young child. Handling the situation calmly will give you more knowing and understanding glances than evil stares. Public tantrums aren’t meant to humiliate parents, so it is important you treat your child the same way as if the tantrum happened at home- with respect and with a level head.