Dealing With Temper Tantrums

Friday, March 9, 2012
My B-Boy is still youngish but I am anticipating those infamous anger fits in public. Even though we know we are good parents and our child is well-behaved, these unfortunate events don't fail in making us look and feel like we have the worst parenting skills on earth. The staring gazes and fear of judgment also add on to the stress. And we seem to always find ourselves giving in, knowing we are definitely not going about it the right or best way.

Shopping can be an adventure that will bring babies and young kids to feel totally overwhelmed. It can over-stimulate them and spark the worst behaviour out of them. It can be challenging to reason a child when in presence of other people. The important thing is to always act in a coherent way, whether you are at home or out. It may feel and appear to be less of a burden to give in to a demanding child when in front of a crowd than to deal with the issue on the spot. However, the lack of coherence can evoke new, and even more unreasonable, demands.

The difficulties experienced in public can emerge from many causes. If your child is accustomed to a few, or no limits at all, he will then expect to have his desires satisfied. He will consider all limits imposed during outings as an injustice and will strongly backfire. In other cases, the lack of attention will lead kids, even the well-behaved ones, to turn into little devils. Furthermore, even children 4 or 5 years of age will be having a hard time at staying calm for many hours on end, particularly in an environment that offers numerous new sources of stimulation along with several temptations. Thus, it is only normal that you are pronouncing the word "no" more often in public.

It is crucial to act rapidly in a crisis situation. You will benefit from taking control from the moment you see the first signs. You can retreat to the car, to the bathroom or in a remote corner to talk to your child. If he seems cooperative, offer him a chance to redeem himself. Explain the next step: "It's your choice, either you walk near me, next to the shopping cart, or you sit in the cart." His actions must carry a consequence. Your child will consequently learn that his misbehaviours will not be tolerated.

Outings will be more fun if you make your child participate. At the restaurant for example, bring something to keep him busy (books, crayons, toys, etc.), in order to help him wait. At the grocery store, offer him the mini cart reserved for children or ask him to help you by locating the food. Here are a few tactics that you can put to the test when you are out with your youngster and that may reduce the chances of an outburst.

  • Try to remain calm and respect the well-defined limits from the beginning to the end of the outing. 
  • During the course of your errands, talk to your kid. Mobilize his attention. Ask him to give his opinion or to help out by finding what you are looking for. 
  • Encourage him to participate in what you are doing. For example, ask him to chose the fruits you are looking for. 
  • Do not go out if he is tired. 
  • Try not to stretch the outings. 
  • Bring a "just in case". If he is hungry in the course of your trip, you will not be tempted to buy him a treat in order to avoid a temper bout. 

It is important to make your kid relive the situation, although the first experience proved disastrous. If the last trip to the grocery store went wrong, for example, you will want to return with him and apply your rules and conditions, so that he may live the experience successfully. You can also play "the restaurant" at home. Do not hesitate to praise your child during the exercises and to manifest your joy by offering an opportunity to make him happy... "I am really happy. You stayed sitting, you ate and chatted with us. Would you like it if we went to the park?". Staying cooped up in the house is not a solution! Your toddler needs to learn the rules of society.

4 Fabulous Comments:

Jennifer fay said...

OH boy, I remember the tantrum days with my girls. That was hard to deal with that.

Glenda said...

What a wonderful post and one I can relate to as my son is 4. My problem is he wants to always push the buggy even if I do not want one and then when I let him he gets carried away and wants to go to fast. Do you have any suggestions?

Melissa Campeau said...

Glenda, what could be a good idea would be to set the rules and limits before you leave the house or once you get there, before getting out of the car. You can warn your son that Mommy is only going in for a few things and doesn't need a cart. And that what he can do is help you carry the things around in his arms OR, if his mind is really set on having a cart because that is what he is used to, then you need to set a rule with him... You warn him that the items will be put in his cart, therefore he needs to be careful and behaved. That is the limit you are imposing. It needs to be presented to him as a give-give situation. And he needs to be aware that if he is not willing to participate in this give-give scenario, then it will be your rules only and he might not like that!! Good luck Glenda and keep us posted! :)

Super Social WAHM said...

I also wrote an article about my girl's tantrums on

Your article is very informative especially to all first time moms and dads.
I am your new follower.

Mom Blog: SmartyMommy

WHAM Blogger: Super Social WAHM

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