Real talk: Temper tantrums are the worst. And they happen to every toddler — they’re typically just part of a child’s growth. When they tantrum, they’re trying hard to get their way and express their emotions. That said, it can still be very frustrating for parents, especially if those temper tantrums happen in a public place. Dealing with a kid having a temper tantrum while in the store can often be embarrassing. Keep in mind, the only people judging have likely never experienced it themselves before.
Trying to figure out how to handle toddler tantrums? Luckily, there are a bunch of amazing ways to keep these temper tantrums at bay. Here’s what the professionals think — along with key signs of when to worry.
What’s the meaning of a temper tantrum?
Temper tantrums happen because your child is frustrated. In smaller children, it may be due to their own limitations. Toddlers are well aware of the fact that they can’t emote or communicate the same way as adults do, and that can make them quite tense. Just imagine yourself in their perspective — they aren’t old enough to explain why they want something or to tell you that they’re uncomfortable. Of course, being hungry or tired can also start a temper tantrum in a toddler. All things considered, it’s almost surprising they don’t have tantrums all the time.
How should you deal with toddler tantrums?
Of course, you don’t want to be the parent who loses it in public (even if it feels like you’re minutes away from having your own temper tantrum). Try your hardest to stay calm and not escalate the situation further. The best thing to do is to take a deep breath and try to address the issue. For one, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared when you go out. Always grab a snack and a drink to put in your purse in case your toddler decides that they’re hungry. Also, make sure not to go out with them when it’s during their scheduled naptime. That’s just asking for trouble.
Should you ignore a temper tantrum?
Kids do many things for attention, including throwing tantrums. It’s important not to reward this kind of behavior with attention. So, the next time your nugget explodes, ignore their behavior. Don’t make eye contact and pretend their howling doesn’t bother you one bit. This tactic is best used at home especially if you want to avoid making a scene at Walmart.
Are there ways to avoid tantrums?
When possible, avoid triggers. If you go to Target, tell your child what you’re there for. And, even then, steer clear of the toy aisle. If they happen to see toys, it may incite a battle. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable, but try to plan ahead as much as you can. You can also reward them for good behavior. Maybe not making a public scene in a store will earn them fruit snacks or another approved treat when they’re back in the car.
Give your toddler a bit of control. We’re not talking about letting them choose whether they want to go to bed, but decisions that focus on the milder situations in their life. For example, ask them whether they want a slice of cake or a cupcake, or if they want to brush their teeth before or after they watch the movie. By looping them into some decisions, they’re less likely to feel controlled, fight back, and might cool it with tantrums.
What if the toddler has a tantrum because of something they want?
This is often hard for parents! Here’s the thing, though: It’s more common in kids who are older. If you always give in to a temper tantrum, kids will continue to have them. So if things become unbearable, sometimes the best thing to do is leave your cart in the store and leave with your child. Sure, you might feel your cheeks flush with embarrassment. However, it’s an important reminder to your child that these behaviors won’t get them what they want. With practice, soon they’ll realize that the tantrum will only lead to a negative outcome for both of you.
When should you worry about a toddler tantrum?
There are moments when temper tantrums become more violent or scary. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, parents should worry if the tantrums last for more than 15 minutes and the child isn’t able to soothe themselves. Age is also important. If a child is older than five and having tantrums frequently, it may be time to see a pediatrician who can suggest additional resources. Self-injury is another concern to keep an eye out for. If your child is often causing damage and destruction, seek advice from a health professional as soon as possible.