WASHINGTON, May 14, 2016 – Nearly every parent has had to endure that seemingly unexpected toddler tantrum that is embarrassing and can leave one in a near panic mode. To be honest, you do not have to freak out. Here are several tips that you can use to prevent you and your toddler from undergoing a public meltdown.
Let’s understand something. A toddler for the most part is not trying to destroy your mental health or intentionally misbehave to see how many of your panic buttons the temporarily disruptive child can push. Instead, the toddler is making an earnest attempt to establish his or her own sense of autonomy and to learn how to determine where the behavior boundaries, good or bad, are located.
Before you make an effort to deal with the child who is throwing herself on the grocery store floor or refusing to listen to you while reaching for every possible toy their little fingers can grab, prepare for the breakdown ahead of time. That’s right, experience has already taught you that a tantrum is just around the corner, so take steps to stay in control by being prepared.
The best way to defeat a public tantrum is to take the time to establish the behavior boundaries before you even leave the home. You can call it your Toddler Tantrum Safety Kit. This may sound a bit odd at first, but honestly, once you use it, you will increase toddler cooperation and decrease toddler tantrum outbursts.
More than likely, your child’s tantrums have been on display for quite some time, and in most cases, you like many parents you either ignored them or coddled the toddler into temporary submission. In both cases, you have merely placed a Band-Aid on a volcano that is going to blow at any moment…typically in public.
Understand that your toddler has not developed the coping skills that older children have and the only way they can convey their frustration is to let their emotional outbursts go nuclear. According to Jay Hoecker, M.D., a Rochester, Minnesota, pediatrician., “During a tantrum, your child is literally out of his mind. His emotions take over — overriding the frontal cortex of the brain, the area that makes decisions and judgments,” reported Parents Magazine.
Remaining calm during your toddler’s outburst at home is key, because, first, your child is learning behavioral responses that he will incorporate into his own behavior as a child and adult. Your tone and soothing voice will demonstrate that you are listening to him and that his emotional outburst is not getting a rise out of you. Second, the more you display a calm response to a toddler’s tantrums at home, the less likely the toddler will employ that tactic in public.
Hoecker agrees with parents using a calmer approach to tantrums. He stresses, “They don’t care if it’s positive or negative attention they’re getting. All they care about is that you’re giving them 100 percent of it.”
So why not give them positive attention?
Before you deploy your Toddler Tantrum Safety Kit, keep in mind that these are measures that are going to be beneficial and not punitive. So approach curbing your child’s tantrums as a way to improve communication and to build lifelong coping skills.
Toddler Tantrum Safety Kit
- Stock a small backpack with a few of your child’s favorite small toys, one or two books and even tasty snacks.
- Create coupons for the toddler’s favorite lunch that they can be used as a reward if he does not act out at the store or on the playground or park.
- Bring a small stuffed animal that your toddler loves and can hug when he needs to feel safe. Both you and your toddler can hug it out in public. It will help to bring your child immediate comfort and temporarily help calm the tantrum down.
- Create a recording of you and your toddler agreeing to promise to behave. Have it ready to play on your phone in public. Remind your child before you leave your car by playing the “no tantrum verbal contract.” Make certain that you provide a positive incentive to reinforce good behavior as part of the bargain.
- Keep a good behavior chart in the Tantrum Safety Kit and let your toddler place a star on each date for good behavior. Also, keep a copy of it taped to the refrigerator This reinforces good behavior and builds the child’s own self-confidence and self-control.
In the end, these measures can always be supplemented by your own ideas and anti-temper tantrum tactics. It is important to remember that, if all else fails, simply leave the store or the location and regroup in your vehicle. Do not use harsh language by pointing or stating how disappointed you might be.
Your toddler is learning, and simply remind your child that you want what is best and that being respectful is important when behaving. Being calm is a practiced behavior, and, the more your child is exposed to calmness and learns to express in calm words and not in emotional outbursts, the more the toddler will leave the terrible temper tantrums behind.