How to Manage Toddler Tantrums in Public

Jashan Jot Kaur, (2021, August 13). How to Manage Toddler Tantrums in Public. Psychreg on Parenting. https://www.psychreg.org/how-manage-toddler-tantrums/

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Imagine that while you are shopping, suddenly your child throws a tantrum for no reason. You tried to distract with toys but with no results. I’m sure many parents have faced these embarrassing moments, where all eyes of the public are watching and waiting for our next move. It does not reflect that you’re a bad parent, but it’s only that you’re the parent of a toddler.

Do you just run away from this or smack your kid down? Can the tantrums actually be dealt the ‘right way’ keeping the positive parenting hat on?

Be upfront

It’s best to make the child understand what is expected from them. Kids expect a lot, and they are curious of so many things. So it’s helpful to be upfront and letting them know of what they can or cannot do.

Toys, for example, fascinate them. Teach them to behave. Raising the voice only escalates the emotions. Punishing may only result in anger and frustration which is unhealthy.

Stay alert

It can be scary when the child is out of control. Keep in mind that a child can lose their calm when they are hungry or tired. If you pass a sweet shop without stopping, it may make your child scream. Always keep something distracting to ease or let them relax with toys or food. Staying alert in case of these expected tantrums, food or other entertainment sources must be considered.

Reassure your child

Embarking on a grocery shopping, try to ensure your child about the ground rules. Be a wise parent and tell your child that it may be boring for them to shop grocery. Paying attention and giving a little hug works wonders. Alternatively, this task could be channelled to help put the stuff in the cart, crossing things off from the list or help find items from the shelf.

Stay calm

Frustration is also a big tantrum producer. If your child started to work, keep your own voice low and be calm. Do not patronize but stay comforting. It may soothe you and your child as well. It might not stop them to be irritated, but it won’t get worsened. The tone, pace of your voice, the eye contact simply conveys what actually you say and what they have heard.

Think of embarrassment

There are no perfect parents. Public tantrums are bound to embarrassment. The child won’t understand the embarrassment regardless of any looks you get. Ignore the paparazzi. Wait quietly. Let the child express the emotions. Get comfortable in the uncomfortable.

During the pandemic, parents now are feeling guilty. Children are deprived of many things. Even if they find an extra cookie hour to whine and enjoy, they cannot.  It’s not enjoyable for parents either.

Not all actions need boundaries. Natural outcomes can be great ‘bad guys’.


Jashan Jot Kaur is a researcher at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.


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