When your child has a tantrum, it’s a stressful moment for everyone involved. When the tantrum happens in public, it can be a nightmare for a parent. How can you handle this sudden uncontrolled outburst quickly and effectively? By keeping your head, and following a few simple steps.
- Assess the situation so that you can make a plan. The first thing to do is determine the cause of the meltdown. Is it a battle of wills over a toy or treat? Does your child have trouble with transitions? Decide how you’re going to handle the current crisis, but make a mental note of factors that might help you prevent being in this situation in the future.
- Plan to prevent tantrums from happening in the first place. Keeping children on a regular schedule for sleeping and eating, easing transitions by giving advance notice and creating little rituals, and avoiding situations where tantrums are likely can help stop them before they begin.
- Don’t try to make it a teachable moment . When a tantrum does occur, it’s not the time to try and teach a lesson. Once everyone is calm, cool, and collected, you can have a conversation about better ways to handle frustration.
- If it happens in public, take it somewhere else. One of the best ways to stop a tantrum in its tracks is to be prepared to abruptly change course yourself. You’re strolling through the store, and your child melts down? Scoop up your little one and walk out of the store. You’re in the middle of a meal at a restaurant and suddenly your kid is making a scene? A quick trip to the restroom may be in order. Sometimes, just removing the child from the situation is enough of a surprise to stop the tantrum. If not, be prepared to stand outside, wait in the car, or stay in the restroom until the situation is under control.
- Don’t negotiate with terrorists- or toddlers in a tantrum . It is imperative that you do not give in to a toddler who is throwing a tantrum. If you do, the message you send will be that meltdowns are effective, and a great way to “win”. Instead, ignore the child if possible, or speak so quietly that he or she has to stop making noise in order to hear you.
- Keep calm and carry on. Think about this: a toddler in meltdown mode is out of control, and that can be a scary feeling. If you can remain calm, you’re not only modeling good behavior, but also letting your child know that you’re in control.
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