There is never an ideal time for kids to throw temper tantrums but when you’re out in public, it can be especially frustrating!
We have all been there – crying, shouting, throwing themselves on the ground – our kids can really put on a show when they want to! For many children, when they have escalated to a full out temper tantrum, it can be hard to bring them back down, but it’s not impossible.
When public temper tantrums happen, it’s also easy to feel embarrassed, but it’s important to remember that every parent has experienced a public tantrum at some point! We’ve all been there!
While we may not be able to completely avoid temper tantrums in public, there are a few ways we can help avoid them beforehand or diffuse them when they do happen.
#1 – Plan Ahead
You know your child best so before you head out, make a mental list of the things you may encounter that could spark temper tantrums for your kiddo.
Are there certain stores in the mall that your kids love but aren’t on the agenda? Is the doctor’s office across from their favorite park but you don’t have time to stop today?
Planning ahead and being prepared can really help to reduce the likelihood that your child will meltdown.
Be ready with toys, games and distractions. Have a favorite toy, sensory toys are especially great, that you can distract with. Maybe play a game of “I Spy” to direct focus or practice naming objects around you as you move through situations or places that could be a tantrum catalyst.
Keeping little minds engaged so they don’t focus on those tantrum-inducing activities can be a really effective strategy!
It’s also helpful to have set rules and expectations for your child before you head out. Make sure they understand what the plan is and what you won’t be able to do that day. This will help them set their own expectations as well!
#2 – Give Them Some Control
For many kids, temper tantrums happen because they feel like they have very little control over themselves and their situation.
To help them feel like they have a bit more say, try giving them a job or task for each outing. Maybe they will be in charge of finding three things on the grocery list when you get to the store. Or give them a list of the errands you plan to run and let them check off and “manage” the plan for the day.
When kiddos feel like they have some ownership and responsibility in the days activities, they may be too engaged to realize you just drove past their favorite ice cream shop!
#3 – Be Ready To Manage Your Own Reaction
When kids throw tantrums in public it can be just as hard for the parents as it is for the kids!
It’s so easy and normal to feel frustration, anger and embarrassment when your child melts down for everyone to see. But feeling prepared to handle these situations will benefit you AND your child.
As the parent, you know there is always the possibility of public tantrums so your plan ready. The way you react when your child is struggling will greatly influence how well they manage and recover from a tantrum – stay calm and have your strategies ready!
When tantrums happen, take a beat to decide if your child is reacting to a situation where they feel out of control or are they processing a bigger emotion? Do they just need a minute of your attention or do they need to be redirected?
Not all tantrums will look the same, or have the same catalyst, so it’s important that you are able to remain calm and take the next right steps to help them get back to center.
Public temper tantrums are an inevitable, and very unpleasant, part of parenting. Our kids manage big emotions as they grow and develop and it’s our job as parents to help them navigate those emotions, even if it happens in the middle of Target.
Being prepared, having a plan and feeling ready to manage public tantrums will benefit you and your child. If you’re looking for more support and guidance, reach out to us at Beyond Speech!