How to Deal with Embarrassing Toddler Tantrums in Public
For more tantrum tips, listen to our podcast episode Tantrum Prevention & Tips.
The easiest way to learn how to deal with embarrassing toddler tantrums in public, or anywhere for that matter, is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. While not all tantrums can be prevented, with some solid tools, you can prevent many of them.
Here is our list of 5 tantrum prevention techniques to reduce toddler tantrums in public:
Have a Schedule and Stick to it
Setup a daily schedule for snacks, naps, meals and bedtimes and stick to it as much as possible. Keeping your child from getting over tired and over hungry will greatly help with emotional regulation.
3 Steps to Building Cooperation
These 3 steps can greatly increase cooperation and therefore prevent many of those embarrassing toddler tantrums in public. Before getting out of the car:
- Set expectations
- Give choices
- Give consequences
As an example, once you park the car at the park, you would have the following conversation.
Step 1. Set the expectation. “When I say it’s time to leave the park, I need you to come with me right away.”
Step 2. Give choices. “You can run along side me or waddle like a penguin on our way back to the car.”
Step 3. Give the consequence. “If you do not come with me right away, I will have to pick you up and carry you.” For most toddlers, autonomy is huge. So being carried is far from optimal!
Another example is for the toddler who likes to run off in the parking lot.
Step 1. Set the expectation. “I need you to stay close in the parking lot”
Step 2. Give choices. “You can hold my hand or ride in the stroller.”
Step 3. Give the consequence. “If you try to run away then we will have to go back to the car and try again later.” or “we won’t have time to go to the store today.”
Give Your Child a Job
Another way to prevent tantrums during outings is give your child a job. This keeps her mind busy, leaving less opportunity for a struggle over autonomy or finding and asking for junk food. “I need apples. Can you look for the apples and tell me when you see them?” “We need 3 apples. I need you to help me count!”
Know & Recognize Your Child’s Triggers
With our 3 kids, 2 of our kids cared VERY much about the color of their plates. The other one could have cared less. So I ALWAYS remembered to let the first 2 choose which plate they wanted first. We literally went to IKEA and bought 3 sets of their plastic plates to make sure we always had enough of each color.
If you are not sure what your child’s triggers are, you can use our tantrum chart to figure out what the triggers might be. You can chart the time of day, what was happening when it started, how long the tantrum lasted, where you were and who was there. This will help you see any patterns.
For more information on what causes tantrums, as well as how to deal with embarrassing toddler tantrums in public, or anywhere, when they do occur, see our class on tantrums.