Public tantrums can be a parent’s worst nightmare. You’re not alone. Here are a
few tips to prevent tantrums in public, as well as what to do when they happen:
1) Keep your child[ren] informed. Tantrums are often caused when the
child feels overwhelmed or confused. They may wonder why they have to be out doing
errands, instead of playing at home. Keep them updated on what your schedule is to
avoid any confusion.
2) Make sure they are fed and rested before going in public. Being hungry and tired is the
perfect storm for a tantrum (for adults, too). When possible, time your errands around meals and naps.
3) Positively reinforce good behavior. Reassure your child that if they are well-behaved during
their errands, they will get a treat of some sort. This excitement will motivate them to
be calm and collected.
4) Be prepared. Bring their favorite stuffed animal, activity book, or snack with you at all
times, in case of emergency.
How to Stop Public Tantrums
1) Acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes all they need is a quick hug or some
reassurance. If they are bored with what you’re doing, say something like: “I know
grocery shopping can be boring, but we can do something fun for you later.” This will
show them that you care about them instead of upsetting them by just brushing them off.
2) Stay calm. The last thing that you want to do is yell at your child in front of other people.
This can be embarrassing for both you and the child. Try your best to stay calm and talk
in a low tone. If you get worked up, this will only upset them more.
3) Give them something on which to focus. If you’re shopping and notice a tantrum coming
on, make it a fun game for them by allowing them to help search for the items or start a
game of “I Spy”. This will distract them from their tantrum and hopefully make their
experience more enjoyable.
4) Don’t give in. Avoid the impulse to give in. This will negatively reinforce their behavior. While it may seem easy enough to just give them what they want so they calm down, it’s much better in the long run to refrain.
Final thoughts: While public tantrums can feel embarrassing, don’t forget that you’re not alone.
Every parent has been there before, and it takes time to perfect how to deal with them. Be
patient and diligent, and they’ll be tolerable for all types of errands before you know it.
If you believe your loved one could benefit from professional support, please contact Compass Social Skills and Counseling, LLC at 774-847-9340 or Info@SocialCompassCounseling.com.