How do you deal with temper tantrums in a grocery store?

Kathy - posted on 12/17/2008 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My 4 year old had a major blow-out at the grocery store today. It's been a long time since this was an issue. When she was little, I could just keep the stroller moving and finish what I needed to do. No strollers these days. I kept calm on the outside but was fuming inside...not to mention very embarrassed. What would you do?

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Rachael - posted on 12/17/2008

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We do time outs in the grocery store. It is embarrasing when ours is screaming but his consequence at home when he misbehaves is a time out so we follow through with it whereever we are even if it is in the grocery store isle. I calmy lift him out set him on the ground (off to the side) and keep track of his time on my watch. Then when his time out is over I ask him if he is ready to behave and reiterate my expectations of his behavior, it seems to work...

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Rebecca - posted on 12/18/2008

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Ah yes been there many times. The best thing i did was leave the shops, full shopping trolley haha, and took shai home. I then did the shopping without her for nearly 6 months then she asked me one day why we don't go to the shops anymore & i reminded her of her terrible behaviour & she said that she wouldn't do it again & she hasn't since, but every now & then i will get her a treat & say thankyou to her for being good. That all started when shai was 3 she is now 7. Good Luck!!!

Coleen - posted on 12/17/2008

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I have discovered that they are not always testing us or just being bad for the sake of driving us crazy. There is usually a reason. Watch for cues to see if your child is tired, hungry, worried, etc. A tantrum may be their way of telling us they cant deal with the current situation. The best thing I can suggest from experience with my older 2 is finish what you absolutely have to do and get out. Most of the people around you have either been there or have some sympathy.

User - posted on 12/17/2008

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We have done both of what the folks are recommending - setting the expectations ahead of time and the leaving part. The hardest part is when you REALLY need what you are trying to get. That's when it's very hard to leave. So at that point I've just bought the two or three things and then let them scream, yell, whatever. It's hard, a bit embarassing too. But with the embarassing part - just remember most everyone else has been in that position at one time or another. The ones who haven't are the ones that haven't yet had kids or are SO FAR away from that stage that they don't remember how it was. Good luck!

Suzanne - posted on 12/17/2008

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I find it helps to go over what you expect from your child at the store before you leave the house. If your child still cannot behave than drop evertything and leave the store. They will understand you mean what you say. Leave with the first tantrum don't say "if you do it again we will leave" they will not trust that you will follow through.

Zaimah - posted on 12/17/2008

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I would recommend a different approach than others. While I agree that kids like to test us but I also think we need to set our expectations clearly for them. I think before you enter the store you tell your kid(s) very calmly and firmly what kind of behavior you expect from them in this situation and what the consequences. Allow them a reminder a two if they are not meeting the expectation in the grocery store and then follow through with a consequence. Also, if you haven't already involved the 4 year old as part of the process, then maybe that can help make it more interesting for them. Or perhaps if you are using a grocery cart there can be a special toy/book/snack that they get as part of the grocery shopping experience if they meet your behavioral expectations.

Lisa - posted on 12/17/2008

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My very independent persistant 3 year old done this just a few weeks ago in the walmart checkout line. She was insisting that I get a Barbie phone (you know the ones they put by the register just to make this happen)..any way...I told her no and to put the phone back and she melted down...all the while I was proceeded to check out. I kept my cool....let her have her meltdown and after I paid I proceeded to tell her goodbye. That pretty much stopped the meltdown. She put the phone back and came running. Temper tantrums happen for several reasons...you know your child and what she responds best to. My daughter was horrified that I would just leave her (which i would never) but it worked. Just a few days ago we were in the same situation and I told her to put the phone back and lets go and she did. Good Luck when it happens again!

Natalie - posted on 12/17/2008

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Tantrums are just plain bad behavior and their way of bullying us to get what they want...there should be a consequence to bad behavior. When my then 3yr old (now 13) tried me in a Kmart many moons ago...I told him he either did what I was asking or we were going to leave the store...he didn't...so we left! He cried ALL the way home promising to behave and that he would listen...I ignored him and went all the way home! It's not all that easy to do but I ALWAYS did what I said I was going to do regardless of the inconvenience. I always let me son know...to this day...that bad behavior is not acceptable and will receive the corresponding consequence...I will say at his age he is a pretty good kid and we are very proud of him - we ALWAYS tell him that also.

Katie - posted on 12/17/2008

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I am a firm believer in taking the child out of the situation. Keep it a treat that your child gets to go with you, and that behavior is not acceptable so you had to leave. I know it sucks, but for your sake, remove them. It's not worth the fight.

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