Last Updated on June 17, 2017 by Marie Bautista
The crying. The kicking. The screaming. The stranger stares.
A child melting down in public can make you feel helpless – and ashamed.
Is there any way to calm a child suddenly melting down in public?
I was a veteran of this scene – a screaming 2-year old throwing herself into the aisle of the mall, then as I was about to scoop her to save myself from those stares, she would dart under the clothes rack laughing like she was playing a game of hide and seek. Once I finally get her, she would scream for me to put her down as she wildly kicks her legs at me.
My mom always told me that I will laugh about this scene later, but if you are constantly flashed by strangers with a control-your-child glare, laughing is the last thing you can do.
But you know what, three kids later, I finally realized that a child’s explosive outbursts (and yes, it happens to the best of them!) can be resolved or prevented.
First, to prevent a meltdown, you make sure that a child is not hungry, tired or bored.
But like I said, it happens to the best of them, and a child who is not hungry, tired or bored can still throw a major meltdown.
What to do?
Here are some tips:
TANTRUMS AT THE SUPERMARKET
One way for me to avoid tantrum-throwing in the supermarket is to avoid bringing my kids to the supermarket, because believe me, the bright colors in the supermarket plus the colorful products that they see (and would like to touch) are too overwhelming. They also get frustrated when they see things they want but can’t have.
Of course, there are those times that you cannot avoid bringing your child to the grocery.
Here’s what you can do.
Before going to the store, talk to your child and tell him what your purpose is in going to the supermarket – “We are buying food, not chocolates.” He may beg for some chocolate or that toy, but since you told him your purpose in going to the supermarket is to get food, he won’t insist.
Make doing grocery fun. Make up a game. Play peekaboo with little kids, sing some nursery rhymes or have them count the items you are tossing in your cart. For older kids, give him a grocery list, a little shopping cart and let him find items in the list and check those he find.
Don’t say no. Little kids hate the word “No.” They are at a stage where they are trying to be independent and a “No” would make him do exactly what you are stopping him to do. So does that mean you should never say “No” to them? Not at all. Phrase your no as a yes. If your daughter begs to eat the cookies in your cart, say “Yes, when we get home.” If your son wants to get out of the grocery cart, say “Yes, after I paid the cashier.” If he insists on getting some chocolates, talk him into getting something healthier. “You cannot have a chocolate bar, but you can have a cereal bar.” They will feel better even if you did not give in.
TANTRUMS WHEN PLAYING WITH FRIENDS
Playdates with younger children can be fun. They learn how to socialize and play with other kids. Sometimes, though, playdates can be disrupted by a child’s tantrums which may be triggered by:
- A playmate who pushes his buttons
- Refusal to share
- Losing a game (especially if the winner rubs it in)
Kids tend to lose it when things are not going their way. They cry and get angry at their playmates. To teach him how to be a good sport, play with him,lose a few games and show him how you react when you lose. Show him that you won’t get angry or get frustrated. Say instead, “I had so much fun even if you won and I lost. I hope I will win next time.”
Don’t make him share everything. Young kids are protective of their toys, especially of their favorite ones, and would not want to share them with friends. If friends are coming over, tell him to bring out only the toys he is willing to share. This way, you are showing him that you are not forcing him to share his favorite toys at the same time making him aware that sharing is part of playing by making him share the toys he want to share.
Watch and referee the kids. If your child and his friend are fighting over a toy, tell them that they should take turns. Do not force your child to share his toys, because it would not seem fair to him. Make sure each child gets equal playtime with the toy.
TANTRUMS DURING BEDTIME
Some kids throw a fit before sleeping. This may be because they are:
- having fun playing and would not like to stop
- begging to have more time with you
- finding it unfair that they get to sleep earlier than anybody in the house
Kids often want to hang out with their parents during evenings because they want to spend more time with their parents, so give them your undivided attention. Talk and play with your child each evening, ask her to help you sort the laundry or do her coloring while you cook.
Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. Having a rhythm to a child’s bedtime – like a combination of bathing and reading a book will make him less likely to throw a tantrum when you ask him to finally go to sleep.
Sometimes, if nothing works, if a child is truly throwing a major fit, the best you can do is take the child out of the place which caused him to throw a tantrum. Take him to your car or a quiet place where he can blow off steam.
If you are at home and nothing is working, don’t do anything more. If he realizes his you are not going to react to his tantrums, he will stop.
And hey, the tantrum may seem like forever, but you will definitely be laughing about it later.
I couldn't agree more…
Mayette Domencil says
I love this sis. Ako naman, I love bringing Matt to the supermarket or mall kaya I must bear the consequences, hehe.. Lately, since Matt is growing, he rarely have tantrums. But there's time pa din that he gets so cranky, hyper and ayan na tantrums. Pag ganyan na, nakakaloka na. Dinadaan ko na lang sa pakiusapan and lambing, nagwwork naman 🙂
JanzCrystalz January says
When my son is throwing tantrums at home, I usually leave him alone, few minutes passed he will stop crying and start playing again. 🙂
Dominique Goh says
Kids throwing tantrums is very common nowadays. The parent must be calm and collected to be able to deal with them when that happens.