What are your tips for not melting down when your toddler does?

Michele - posted on 05/03/2011 ( 95 moms have responded )

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On more than one occasion I have found myself absolutely furious over my toddler's tantrums in the market, or clothing store, etc. How do you handle the situation when they have stopped listening and/or are screaming and laying down on the floor (drawing a crowd) and you are at your wits end.

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Heather - posted on 05/08/2011

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Ignore it, don't let it hurt you or get to you, this is why your toddler is having meltdowns, because you let it bother you, and they know it.

You leave your shopping cart in the middle of the store and walk out. Take your toddler outside and calmly talk to them. If you are taking 4 to 6 hours out of your day to go shopping, like I used to, then kids are going to have tantrums. Could your toddler be hungry, need to go potty, be Bored out of his mind? Try to keep him busy by pointing out colors and products in the store. Point our fruit, apples are red, bananas are yellow, etc. Keep his mind going. Sitting in a cart while you are grocery shopping and you not paying hardly any attention to him isn't fun.

I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 21 month old. My son possibly has autism. He does have meltdowns, I carry him out of the store, and he weighs almost 40 pounds, man is he heavy. I bought a Tag*A*Long Handle for him to hold onto on the grocery cart or stroller and he loves it! I also try to keep things fun for both kids and I talk to them and get them to help me shop. My son knows where things are in the grocery store, so I will tell him to show me where they are, and I will follow him there.

Give him positive praise for the things that he does do right in your home and when you are out and about. Tell him that when you are done grocery shopping that you will buy them or give them a cookie, some M & M's (even like 4 or 6, and my kids are happy), a $1.00 hot wheels car, things like that. My kids love bubbles, so we buy bubbles a lot and play with them when we get home.

Promising them a reward and reminding them of that reward when they start acting badly can help to encourage them to behave.

I also make sure to take snacks, cookies (Small, organic, low sugar), and juice with me when I take my kiddos shopping. This helps keep them snacking until we can buy lunch on the way home, or make lunch at home. I have even gone grocery shopping, came home, put the groceries away, and gone back out and taken the kids to Mc Donald's or Chick Fil A for lunch and to play! They love that!

Heather - posted on 05/08/2011

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I don't think she was asking how to handle the tantrum as much as how to handle her reaction or anger at said tantrum. We all know the tips on how to diffuse the tantrum and what to do before or after but I too have found myself so angry at the tantrum and behavior that I get just as mad. I think it's a normal reaction- you often absorb the emotional energy of those around you, you laugh when others laugh, you cry when others are sad so it's normal that you get mad when someone else gets mad. Add to that the fact that most tantrums are over the smallest slight or issue and it's incredibly frustrating. It's ok to get mad. And it's even a good teaching moment, you can show your toddler what to do when upset.

Karli - posted on 05/06/2011

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I tell my kids that their behaviour is unacceptable and then I offer them a choice. They can choose to behave properly or they can choose to go home and I will come out without them at a later time. I find that giving them a choice, even at 2 yrs old it puts the responsibility of their behaviour on them and they will usually choose the right one. I give them 3 chances and then I tell them that they have made the choice to leave and we are going home. In order to maintain my composure I just stay focused and concentrate very hard on staying calm, taking deep breaths and no matter what they say or promise I just keep walking. I follow through with I have said and they learn very quickly that I mean what I say and they usually don't push too much anymore.

Griselda - posted on 05/08/2011

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Having a 3.5 year old and 23 month old I know all too well how you feel. I tend to ignore the tantrum. When my girls throw a tantrum in the store I simply put her in the cart and allow her to cry all she wants. Once I see that she's taken a quick break from her crying that is when redirect her behavior and ask her a question or let her play with a toy that I carry in my purse for her. When a tantrum occurs in a place that there's no cart to put her in then I also ignore her and walk away from her. She will soon get up stop crying and start running towards me wanting to be held. This is when I hug her tightly and follow up with a "lets go see..." This tends to do the trick. Maybe it's just me but I don't care what other people think of me. I know that I'm a good parent and most adults know that kids will put on a show no matter where it is. Ignoring the behavior has really reduced the amount of tantrums and the lenght of them. Best of luck.

Victoria - posted on 05/09/2011

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It is unfortunate that some people on here took what I said literally. There is no 'abuse" or "aggression" involved in my actions as Justine suggested, and I am fully aware than children are not dogs as Katherine suggested. You simply need to show them that you mean business, and don't be wishy washy about the situation - it is all about maintaining control of the situation. Carmina noted how judgemental other mothers can be, and here were some examples of that! Everyone needs to ease up and maintain a sense of humour when it comes to child raising and discipline. My opinion!

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Audra - posted on 11/10/2011

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It's most difficult in public because there is too much going on to get through to them. I think you need to ACT in some way to let them know that lying there and screaming is not acceptable, and act as soon as they start to lose it. Pick them up, pull them aside...do something to change the scene for them. If they're too upset, take them outside, or to the bathroom where you can wait as long as you need to for them to calm down. It never hurts to take a few deep breaths yourself :). Acting right away lets them know that you are serious. I see some parents tune the kid out and continue to shop while they're screaming in the cart, or in the next aisle. The kid starts to scream louder to see if THAT will get attention. If the parent never stops them, they only calm down once they get too tired to fuss. By then, it has been too long to connect poor behavior with a natural consequence.

Sarah - posted on 11/03/2011

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I try to remember that temper tantrums are a result of my son's (he's 3) inability to understand or express his emotions. It helps to put my mind into the notion that I can use it as a teaching moment. I have a 5 point method I use to diffuse the temper tantrum.

1. I try to help him name his emotion, "are you sad? angry? frustrated? etc." until he says what he is, "I angry."
Toddler's don't necessarily have the verbal skills or emotional maturity to realize what emotion they are feeling, it helps them to have a name for it. It also helps to validate that it's okay to feel whatever they're feeling.

2. Then I as him if he's angry because (ex. I took the toy away for fighting over it) ... Again, I try to validate his emotions. I think it's important to identify the stimulus for the emotion.

3. Then I ask him to help me count (or name colours, animals, something that can be grouped) because it'll help him become less angry (sad, etc). We sometimes have to do this 3-4 times, but eventually it works.

4. Once he's calmed down, I explain why the toy was taken away (or why he has to hold a hand crossing the street, whatever caused the temper tantrum).

5. Ask for an apology for the temper tantrum and move onto other play. Usually our temper tantrum diffusing goes like this once we've identified his emotions: "I understand you were angry that we took the toy away because you wanted to play with it, But we don't need to scream and cry if we're angry, we just need to say, "I'm angry Mommy and tell me why you're angry." I would like you to apologize for your temper tantrum." Once he apologizes, I explain that little Johnny wanted to play with the too, and if you can't take turns, then we'll have to find another toy to play with. Then we move on to something else to play with, do, etc.

I think the worst thing to do is lose it yourself because you lose that teachable moment with them where you can teach them a healthy way to deal with their emotions. I think if you keep this in mind, it makes it a bit easier to cope with.

Diane - posted on 06/20/2011

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In my experience, only patience can fix a tantrum. You have to award good behavior with attention and tantrums get no attention. They will eventually learn that a tantrum is not the best way to get what they want. Certainly you should never cave in, that makes things worse.

Lauricia - posted on 05/24/2011

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Hi Michele, just in response to your comment about how you're discussing expectations before leaving but when you get there she does everything you told her not to do: as well as telling her what she is not allowed to do, try telling her what she is allowed to do, and asking her what she would like to do there. For example: "What sort of books would you like to read at the library? We're not allowed to be loud at the library and we can't climb on the furniture, but we can still talk if we whisper and we can sit on the chairs nicely; you might even be allowed to choose a cushion to sit with." In other words, focus more on the positives than the negatives, so she feels like there are good choices available for her to make. Hope that helps.

Janet - posted on 05/17/2011

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ok, so now i have read ur comments, so here's my advice - distract her - ask her to help get things at the supermarket for u........tell her if she is good, u will take her to the park and keeping reminding her of this......good luck

Michele - posted on 05/17/2011

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Wow! I made it through all suggestions. Many seem to be ok with just letting them have their tantrum. Sorry. I can't do that. I did give it some thought though as it seems to be popular. Just standing by watching my kid behave badly won't work for me. I can't get over my belief that it's just inappropriate behavior that should not be tolerated. That said, knocking them upside the head while dragging her out by the scruff of the neck has a look that screams bad breeding--on my part.She's THREE! Probably a better approach would be to calmly remove her from the store and have a conversation and disciplining quickly thereafter in private. I'm not adverse to spanking and we practice that at home as part of an overall disciplining approach also using time out, and good behavior = reward. The suggestions most helpful include reiterating expected behavior before going somewhere, addressing her expected needs before going out, being thoughtful about how much I'm putting her through...so limiting the time I expect her to "sit nicely," redirecting with "I spy" and really trying to involve her in the outting in more creative ways. Thanks again everyone!!! Circle of Moms is the best place to go for advice!!

Michele - posted on 05/17/2011

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Still making my way through...at 41 of 83 comments. Thank you all! Just a little update and some info. To the woman who kindly commented that my children have to know there are other more important places where my motivation and energy must go...Must most respectfully disagree. I don't work-- precisely for this reason. My child is my priority. That said, the suggestions were useful. To many who have suggested that I let her know in advance what is expected of her behavior and what the consequences will be--I've started doing this. Mixed results. Not sure what I am doing wrong. For example, a problem place for us is the library. We have a converation before we go in..."ok, we will not run around, we will be very quiet as there are others who are reading, we will NOT climb on the furniture..." As soon as we go in, all the things we talked about occur. (She does not climb on the furniture at home.) I did follow through on the threat of not taking out any new books so have to see what happens next time. I have given some thought to making sure that her potential issues are addressed before going out...hungry, itchy, thirsty, achey, bored..., etc. Thought I was doing this but perhaps need to expand my list of issues. Also started the bear paw in the honey pot trick. We made some cute cut out bear paws and I've drawn a honey pot on her white board. When we are out and she is bad I threaten that we will be moving one of the bear paws into the honey pot. She knows that if any bear paws are in the honey pot at the end of the evening....no sweet treats after dinner. She is responding slowly with this tactic. Will continue reading...please keep posting. Finding useful the suggestions for good books on parenting. Thank you, thank you!!!

Janet - posted on 05/16/2011

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walk away - once ur toddler realises ur not listening or putting up with it, he/she will give in..........

Lori - posted on 05/16/2011

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I have a five year old son and am 5 months pregnant with number2. When I was about 3 months along my son and I were in the grocery store and he began throwing a fit over a box of cookies he couldn't have, I was so upset and frustrated (partly due to hormones) that my only reaction was to cry. Needless to say, it sent my son into full on retraction mode. He put the cookies back on the shelf and said- "they aren't important" and then gave me a hug. I am not saying that crying is the answer, but it did help me see that kids need to see that their actions do cause emotions in others and that they need to know we are having them. By seeing me cry, my son immediately realized that our shopping trip wasn't all about him and from then on, he has been really good in the stores.

Danielle - posted on 05/16/2011

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As long as he is in a safe place when he decides to hurl himself on the floor in wails, I've usually just told him where I'll be when he's finished (within sight/hearing distance) and to let me know when he's done. I began this with the first tantrum I ever experienced from him, and he very quickly picked up on the fact that it was getting him nowhere. I really don't have an issue with tantrums, except very occasionally, and he is turning 3 in a few months! As for the public stares, the ones who gawk either don't have young children or don't have a very good grasp on reality, so don't let it bother you.

Julie - posted on 05/15/2011

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Try this. Next time you notice a tantrum coming on. Pull the cart over, gently take both hands, and whisper something distracting "like do you notice any ...?" or " I need your help, can you help me...." . Keeps you both calm without making a scene and distracts their behavior. Their too young to understand the reasons why they shouldn't be behaving that way so avoid long explanations.

Barbie - posted on 05/14/2011

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remain calm and your child will eventually calm down and even feel bad for how they behaved. Control your emotions and temper, your child needs your understanding, as they are already upset enough.

Lisa - posted on 05/14/2011

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Fortunately I have not dealt with it in public, YET! LOL. But when my 2 year old throws a tantrum at the house, I leave the room and go on about my business. Once she realizes she's lost her audience, the show usually stops and she'll coming looking for me to give her a hug. Kids need to know that there are better ways to communicate than screaming. I'm more likely to meet her desires when she's acting more......desirable. :)



When I DO take her shopping, she gets to be my little "helper". This means she holds and inspects everything I take off the shelves as long as it's safe and not breakable. This usually keeps her attention. Normally I grab a paper book out of the $1 bin for her to thumb through, so she can look forward to having a new book which each trip....better than an expensive toy. :)

Amber - posted on 05/14/2011

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I learned a long time ago that you can't win when it comes to the judgement of other people. I had three kids in three years and that is enough to send people into a tither when I walk into any establishment so it's basically downhill from there. With that being said, you have to decide who your reaction or lack of one is for. It absolutely can't be for the other patrons in the store or public area. Your reaction will send a clear message to your child whatever it may be but for your own mental and even physical health I'd try some deep three part breathing from the diaphragm first and then after getting your blood pressure under control the situation will probably seem less horrible and you'll make a good decision, I promise!

Ashley - posted on 05/13/2011

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Remove yourself and/or your child from the situation or quickly distract or divert the situation. In order for it to work it has to be done early on in the tantrum or right before it starts. A little peace of mind for you....you are not alone all mothers go through it. I bet if there are woman standing around watching they are probably looking for tips or remembering when there kids use to do it. Don't be embarrassed there is nothing out of the ordinary about a toddler throwing a tantrum. whats important is that you make it through with out loosing it. I have found that my kids usually throw the worst tantrum when something is wrong. So find the underlying issue. Is he/she tired, bored, itchy, hungry, jealous or just in some need of attention. Your toddler may be subconsciously telling you something. LOL or she may just feel like being a cranky toddler :-)

Jessica - posted on 05/13/2011

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My two year old daughter always gives me a hard time and crys and yells in the grocery store. I stopped taking her and my husband does the shopping because of that. I really like what you said about having the kids help pick things out and make them a part of it. My daughter (tracy) is such a good girl at home , its out in public she seems to through fits for some reason but I really think your idea will work and I cant wait to try it! I do that at home with her so I dont know why I didnt think of it at stores! Im a stay at home mom and dont get out very much so it really bummed me out that when I did have to go out and do things she would act like that! This is really gonna solve it though , thank you so much ! - Jessica

Debra - posted on 05/13/2011

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Quite honestly look at their face and image it on a serious business person or, even those watching then you can put a smile in which the child normally response to in realizing that you are not caving.
Now this being said its sometimes hard to keep your mind in a sane place when they are throwing fits. I have 4 my oldest is 5 and my 4 year old has autism. People dont understand what is going on there for they stare yet you understand what is best for your kids just imagine what it will be/been like for their kids and it will make you feel better as well. lol

Julie - posted on 05/13/2011

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ANOTHER TIP - DO NOT allow things to get to the point of a melt-down.
I raised 5 alone after my husband died ...
. nip things int eh bud and teach your child to obey - AND, tell them ahead of time they will ride in the grocery cart - and they can look and enjoy
but
you "are not going to buy..."

Amy - posted on 05/13/2011

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I usually ignore it and even though she still cries I still ignore her. But if she starts trying to get out of the cart I have to just take her out to the car or outside of the store and she usually calms down. I just have to stay consistent with her. By letting her get out of the cart and putting her down she just thinks she could get her way!

Julie - posted on 05/12/2011

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Do you work?
A child does not understand that the majority of your energy and time goes to something else rather than them -
When in a market keep your toddler in the cart and busy with a cookie or toy or talk to them and describe fun things you see or ask them to help point out people with glasses, etc., and fun games like that.
Take them shopping ONLY AFTER a nap and good meal and you will see an amazing change!

Lexann - posted on 05/12/2011

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If you are at home, walk away. Put your child in his/her room and shut the door. Do not respond in any way, at this age they are doing it for attention, even negative attention. If you are in public, pick your child up, and leave immediately. That may be hard sometimes (what if you have a cart full of groceries?), but do it anyway. Do not engage your child at all. Don't speak, don't give eye contact. They will learn really quickly that tantrums don't get the desired result.

Teresa - posted on 05/12/2011

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Great question! I'm with you on this one! Could use some help on remaining calm when you just want to scream.

Tarra - posted on 05/12/2011

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walk away! stay where you can see her however, she is doing it for attention & as long as she gets it she will keep doing it. Another way is to get down on her level, wait until she has settled down enough to talk to her, find out what she wants & explain to her why she cant have it ect

Justine - posted on 05/12/2011

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my daughter is going through this too i gently lift her up hold her hand and take her to a seat where she can calm down then we start again , i think the secret is not to get worked up and ignore all the sly comments looks and tuts that people give , it is easy to tut whe u are not goin through the pressure of a child throwing a tantrum just pretend they not all there and find somewher quiet even it is the local public toilets just for you and child to have 5 min time out , then try again

Lindie - posted on 05/12/2011

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I normally get my 3 year old to push the trolley so she is involved. She is excited because she can help and she quickly gets distracted from the things she wants like sweets.



At the end of our shopping, I will tell her that she can choose a chocolate because she helped me so nicely. You chance her idea of "entitlement" to "reward" because she was good.



But if we are in a clothing store or somewhere in a mall where she can't push the trolley and she ends up throwing a tantrum, I tell her "you want to scream and be ugly that is fine but I am going cause you are ugly to me"and then I walk away (obviously not fast or far away) but it always get her and use to get my boy to stop screaming immediately if they think you are leaving them there and run after you. They don't want to be left behind. They do realize " if I scream and misbehave, mommy is going to leave me here".



It always works for me without me having to scream or lose my temper.

Ruchi - posted on 05/11/2011

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I had read this book by gopika kapoor on raising chhildren. some of the things she said was very helpful.

having meltdowns by both mum n the toddler is common. this is what i do. I get myself a cool drink and sit down quietly asking my daughter in a mono-tone and a soft voice to come close to sit. Initially it took several hours with her tantrum not going down. I started doubting the process. But now all i say to her is 'screaming will not help you and we r big girls. we need to sit and discuss like big people'. she understands that only by discussing the issue she might get atleast one of her wants fulfilled. but if she continues to scream n howl I am ready to sit for hours till she decides to behave herself. I am a working mother so I had to teach myself to have a lot of patience. but this is doable nd th results long lasting

Lisa - posted on 05/11/2011

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I know how u feel! I have a 3 year old a 14 month old and am 5 months pregnant my fuse is very short needless to say! I leave the store if that happens! I can go another time when I have someone watching my kids or when I just have my oldest

Shanna - posted on 05/11/2011

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I have been exercising time outs since my son was around 14 months old. It worked like a charm then, and does now at 2 1/2. First things first, when my son gets this way it is usually either because he is hungry or sleepy, feeling completely ignored and missing your company, or just plain uncomfortable so I check all those (nap before we go, snack or meal before we go or to eat during, a little loving or playful interaction, etc). You have to give respect to get respect, at any age. If I explain what I expect, or what he can expect, before we go in anywhere this usually curbs a tantrum because he knows exactly why we are there and what I expect of him in addition to what he can expect of me. When he does act up it helps me to focus on it being because something is wrong and he needs me to address it, and not because he just wants to ruin my life. :) I address him in the most caring/concerned but firm voice I can manage and say, "I know you don't want to be here right now, but it is very important to me that I get this done so I need you to be good for me until I finish this and then we can play/eat (or whatever you are going to do afterward). If you do not want to stay here and help me right now, then you will have to go into a timeout until you want to start being good again so I can finish this. Which one would you prefer- timeout, or staying here and helping me?" That usually straightens him right out where he says "help you." But then I sometimes have to be clever and start making jokes or asking him questions about things he likes (if the reason he is being that way is because he is bored or feeling ignored. he loves to just interact with people). Even better, "i see a teddy bear. can you see it? where is the teddy bear? I bet you can't find it" then onto the next "I spy" item. If he starts acting up again, we are right in time out- be it a dressing room, a bathroom, or just right outside the store or car where I place him in position, tell him he is in timeout for X minutes, and ignore him until it is over. He has to know I mean what I say and don't hold empty threats or I lose his respect. After timeout is over I tell him he was very good staying in timeout, remind him why I had to put him in timeout, and ask him if he is ready to start being good. If he never went to time out, I recognize that as we are leaving so he knows what behavior I expect when we go places like that. All our friends are amazed at what a well behaved and sociable toddler we have, and how they enjoy his company when we can take him out on our couples date nights and we can't find a sitter. I must say, this entire tactic front to back is the key.

Rose - posted on 05/11/2011

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My baby is one and a half and we are that stage when he's mastering tantrum doing...it can be frustrating but i usually just tell him that is not acceptable then i invite him for a hug which is lovely and it really helps.

Carole - posted on 05/11/2011

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Whisper in the ear of the child, can you hear me? Let me know when you can, then we can talk & we solve this crisis...

Namasiku S. - posted on 05/11/2011

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Good discipline starts in the home. If my toddler throws a tantrum in public, then he does at home too. So work on it at home before it happens out in public. Sternly say no once, twice, then spank once, or twice, harder the next time around. Remember the sequence: explain why, then spank, the restore (with a hug or kiss). Soon enough they will stop at stern voice number one or at worst, spank number one.



But if its already happening and they are beyond listening, wait it out, carry them to the car etc. Be sure to spank afterward when not in public anymore.

I know spanking sounds harsh but it works.



Remember if it happens once, IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN, so work on it at home.



I don't mean beat up the child but smack the wrist sharply. Just think of how proud you will be when you say no once and your child listens and all the other mums are watching and marveling at how much of a super mum you are. Spanking is not in the Bible for nothing. It works. And the child wont hate you!

Caryn - posted on 05/11/2011

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Pick them up and leave the building. Leave the cart, the shopping bag, whatever. You don't need it that minute and your sanity is more important. Carry them out to the car. If you can't get them in the seat, turn on the car and turn on the radio as loud as you can take it to what you like to listen. It will at least muffle the screaming noises! You're not validating the tantrum and everyone is in a safe location.

Mary - posted on 05/11/2011

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I use the mantra. "I love screaming babies" then I smile and say it out loud over and over again! Then I breathe a sigh of relief when my son's tantrum or tears have passed.
Every child is so different. This really works for me as my second child is a real handful and pushes the boundaries all the time. My eldest child was so very compliant, still is. ;)
This too shall pass. Hang in there!

Fizah - posted on 05/11/2011

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I would just walk off and still look just in case he gets hurt. . but i will make sure hes in sight. . my 2 son always do that. . after they have cool down i'll bring them to the toilet and give them a dressing down. . ! ahaha

Lauricia - posted on 05/10/2011

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Dance :) lol. My husband was shopping with me once recently (with our 5 children) and the kids were fighting etc, I went ahead down the aisle to look for something and my husband was getting very angry. Once they all got close to me, I grabbed 2 of the kids by the hands and started dancing with them, while continuing to look at the shelves for what I wanted. They just started laughing and calmed down. My husband said, "How did you do that?"

Honestly, just keep yourself calm, focus on the task at hand, tell them that you have to get the things you need, that you won't be long, and try to make it fun for them. And if they don't stop acting up then say, calmly, "Okay, we'll have to come back later then. But you're going to miss out on something that you might have gotten if you were good. That's a shame isn't it?"

Just as another tip, if you have it available to you, I've just started doing my grocery shopping online so that I don't have to spend so long out in the shops. It's making life a lot easier.

Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 05/10/2011

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we use 1-2-3 Magic for preschoolers by Dr. Phalen & I just found out about a book named Ready to use Charts and Activities Reward for Kids by Virginia Shiller
Hang in there and it will get better!!

Jennifer - posted on 05/10/2011

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Michele, you just have to let them have their tantrum. I have tried letting my son push the cart or pick out which cereals we should get and that works sometimes but usually it's just as everyone says. The staring customers usually are old or don't have children, so I just stare right back at them...

Jessica - posted on 05/10/2011

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I think Heather Kelly has it down. I have personally been in trouble with the law. You cannot yell, scream or drag them around by the scruff of their neck (as someone so proudly posted), especially if you want to keep your child. Be inventive. Learn to breathe. Enjoy your kids. Get adult time in!

Patricia - posted on 05/10/2011

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I have been known to take the child out leaving a cart of groceries. I'm not ussually angry because most of the time when my children have had tantrums it's almost always because they are tired or hungry and we have been out for longer than they can tolerate so ending the trip is a good thing. I'm rarely embarrassed by my children's behavior but i'm an older momma...i don't really feel their pain when they cry for things like that and i think that gives me an edge. Well after the tantrum and ussually after a nap or meal, we will have a talk about what happened. If it has become a pattern, I would make short "practice" trips to the store so that you both can feel successful and begin a new pattern.

Marci - posted on 05/10/2011

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So, I'll admit that I did not read all of your responses. I've found that the best way to deal with tantrums is to help keep them from happening. I explain exactly how I expect them to behave before we even leave the house. Explain what is acceptable and what is not. Explain the consequences that will happen if they do not behave as you expect them to. I've found that I can usually predict when a meltdown is likely to occur (tired, hungry, etc) so either having snacks or going shopping when they are not tired helps. I generally give the kids something to look forward to after the shopping experience, if it is a long trip (and they have behaved well). Like looking in the Build a Bear store without buying anything or playing at a playground.
On the very rare occasion that one of my kids has a tantrum in the store, this is how I handle it. From a young age, we've taught our kids that tantrums anywhere are unacceptable. We ask them to stop fussing and give them a minute to calm down. If they do not, then we take them to their rooms and allow them time to calm down. After they calm down, we explain that the behavior was unacceptable and talk about a better way to express how they feel. So, in the store, I tell the child to stop fussing. If they do not, we simply leave the store and once they calm down, we go back to the store if we need to. (My son also does well if I tell him what he wants in "toddler-ease" i.e. "Want cookie! Want! Cookie! Want cookie! Cookie! Want cookie now!" Then I explain that he may have a cookie after dinner. This only frustrated my daughter more, so it may or may not help.)
I'm afraid I can't speak much on feeling angry since my kids generally behave quite well in public. I can say that it's important to be consistent once you determine how you are going to handle the tantrums and to stay calm even if you're seething inside.

Jessica - posted on 05/10/2011

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I'm on my second kid now. My oldest would throw her tantrums and I eventually learned to ignore them. If I have something in the cart for her I take it out. I make sure she sees me doing this. She throws one last huge tantrum and that's the end of it. I've also had to leave her in the isle to throw her tantrum. Of course I always stay where I can see her but so that she knows that I'm not there watching her. It embarrasses her and she comes to realize that it didn't work for her. I've also had to leave what I had and come back a later time to do my shopping. It confuses her and she pleads to not leave. I might sound rash but I can tell you if you don't stand your ground your going to have more trouble than you need. I can also tell you that just the other day I caught myself yelling for no real reason at my daughter (she's 5 1/2 now). I asked myself "why did you do that?" I talked with her and asked her if she could help me be a good mommy by doing what I asked her. I'm pretty sure right there is where I found our "happy medium" because our home is much more relaxed. She may not always do what I ask her to do but she does her time outs more willingly. There is a whole lot less yelling and screaming going on in our home. There isn't a strong need for control in our home. Demanding has become almost non existent. There are a whole lot more smiles and doing things out of doing them not because you were told to do them.
Also, being inventive on how you do things really helps out. If one thing doesn't work or one thing you thought worked but now doesn't, try doing it a different way. If you are at your wits end, call someone or go somewhere wher you can get a moment to yourself and your child is in a safe place (ie: at home, in their car seat in the parking lot, grandma's house). The more in control of yourself you are, the better able you are to handle your kids!

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Plan ahead! Your kid needs to know what to expect in a situation - and so do YOU. Have a plan for what happens if it starts looking bad - BEFORE a tantrum hits. Will you take your kid out of the store? Pacify them with a treat?

I try to make my expectations clear with my toddler, any time we're going out. You may have to spell it out in a very basic way - "We're going to the grocery store. You will sit in the cart and eat your snack. If you throw your snack, yell, or try to get down, we will...." (whatever you choose as a consequence).

Rebecca - posted on 05/10/2011

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I actually heard at one point from someone that when her son started throwing a tantrum, she threw herself on the ground and did the same thing, and when a security officer asked what was going on, the son said his mommy was being bad. He never did it again! Most people wouldn't go that far, but the story is pretty funny!

Chaylee - posted on 05/10/2011

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I agree with Jennifer. I either let them have their fit, or pick them up and remove them from the situation. Either way I let them finish the fit and then calmly talk to them afterwards. I let them know this is not behavior I will tolerate and this deserves a time out or punishment when we get home. Who cares who stares at you at the mall. They probably have nannies who have raised their children. Take a deep breath and realize this too shall pass.

Jen - posted on 05/10/2011

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This is a tough one, but try to stay calm and know that the people around you actually understand, believe it or not... most of us do, anyway.

Anne - posted on 05/10/2011

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If they are doing anything that could put themselves in danger - then I think there is no choice but to intervene. Otherwise I have found that it is better to let them sort themselves out....if you ignite them further you are likely to ignite your own frustration too. Having had two I know that we were much more patient and calm with the eldest (necessity, time, only having one child to deal with etc.), and I think there is something in trying to appear as calm as possible. If nothing else, it's easier for them to come back to you and start to chill out once they calm down.

How do you actually do that? It's flipping difficult, and I doubt there's a mom out there who has always managed to remain serene in a situation like the one you describe. I sometimes start to try to hum a song (preferably something they recognise) to distract your fury and try to bring them around too. It also helps to remind yourself that by far the majority of the public are parents and know what you are going through!!

Teresa - posted on 05/10/2011

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i walk away unless they are in the cart. if they are in the cart i pull them out and find an open area of wall or shelf and stick their nose. if they throw themselves on the floor i walk at least part way down the aisle or almost around a corner and when they are done they get up and apologize and join me again. i started doing that when they were each a littl over a year old. i have 3 kids and most the time they don't do much with fits in stores.... oh another place they started having fits was church. i got tired of it and so they go outside with their nose at the wall til they are done. if they don't have shoes or coats on and its cold- they finish up a lot sooner. i don't take the time to put shoes and coats on a screaming kid at church.

Stephanie - posted on 05/10/2011

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I walk away, not far about 10 steps and tell him I'm leaving if he doesn't smarten up, that normally seems to get him into gear.

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