We’ve all seen it or experienced it ourselves at one time or another: a child is throwing a tantrum, kicking and screaming his lungs out because he wants that candy or toy or whatever catches his fancy in a mall, grocery or restaurant. If you happened to be the parent of such a child, didn’t you wish you’d just evaporate or a hole would open up and swallow you, if only to escape the wagging fingers and mortified looks of the people around you?
It’s a problem that besets some parents, but not all. And the question remains: What are the parents of well-behaved children doing that the moms and dads of tantrum-prone kids don’t know about? Is there a technique to raising kids so they behave well when they’re in a store or restaurant and don’t make fools of themselves and their hapless mothers?
There are many theories for handling a child’s hysterical behavior when it happens in public places. Bribe them, don’t bribe them. Threaten them, don’t threaten them. These well-meaning but contradictory advice only serve to confuse parents who are looking for solutions to their problem.
Here are child psychologists’ recommended action steps for dealing with an agitated child having a meltdown in the presence of other people:
Keep calm. The biggest mistake you can do is to match a child’s outburst with your own. Not only is it humiliating, it can make the whole situation worse, with your kid’s hysterics intensifying to raging proportions. Never hit, spank or slap him. Take deep breaths and keep a clear mind.
If the safety of your child is compromised, remove him from the premises. If there’s a wet area of the floor or torn carpets, your child may have a slip and fall accident. According to Bob M. Cohen & Associates, a law firm in California, stores may be liable for negligence that results in injury. But even if a court case is farthest from your mind at this point, keeping your little one safe is also a store’s responsibility.
Leave your child alone. If after repeated admonitions to stop his behavior fail, continue walking to your destination, but keep an eye on your youngster to make sure he is safe and still with you.
Do not give in to what he is asking for. It will only teach him that having an outburst of temper is an effective way of getting what he wants.
Determine what may have aggravated his behavior. Maybe your child needs his afternoon nap or is hungry. These can be the reasons for an irritated child, but even he doesn’t know it. Offer a snack or put him in a stroller. Don’t prolong your outing; get home as soon as you are done with your purpose.
When the storm is over…When your child has calmed down, it’s not the time to berate him for the embarrassment you felt. Instead, comfort him with hugs and reassurance of your love. Praise him for getting over his flare-up.
Tantrums are children’s ways to let out frustration because their reasoning skills have not yet fully developed. They will pass as kids grow and gain control over their actions and emotions. Temper tantrums are normal in kids and shouldn’t be a serious concern to you.