When your child explodes into a full-blown temper tantrum in public, your first thought may be to run and hide. Temper tantrums in public places are embarrassing and often make it difficult to consider a child’s feelings. Your first thought is more likely to be “Why can’t I control this child? What will people think?” While you may want to run or even lash out at your child, realize that he or she is already out of control and needs you to stay in control. While this may seem impossible, by understanding your child’s feelings and doing a little planning ahead, you will know how to handle a temper tantrum from your child should one happen (as it most likely will).
The first thing to know is that the ability to plan ahead is crucial in dealing with a child in the throes of the tantrum stage. As the adult in charge, you need to have realistic expectations. To think that your curious toddler will be a model of obedience wherever he is when is tired and hungry is unrealistic. The best advice is to shop, visit public places and generally run errands when you are both rested and fed whenever possible. Also consider enlisting your child to be your helper; this often engages children and helps them from becoming frustrated and bored.
Next, be sure and prioritize your battles. Some things are non-negotiable. Anything that comes under the category of safety must always be adhered to. Staying in the car seat, the wearing of helmets on scooters or bikes and anything else that poses a risk to your child must be presented as an absolute. But there are some things that can be negotiated on. Approach clothing choices with two choices that are both fine with you, and that way, whatever your toddler picks will be a winner.
Sometimes a very strong-willed child will seem to lose control of himself during a tantrum. If that happens, hold him firmly but lovingly until you can help him get a hold of himself. As an overview; don’t just ignore a frustration tantrum. Behavioral problems need to be addressed in a way that establishes a feeling of trust with your child. Usually what happens is that once your toddler gains language skills, the tantrums simply fade away. This usually happens when your child reaches the age of 2-2 ½ years old, but this is dependent on the rate your child develops language.
There are three major things to keep in mind about tantrums both in helping deal with them and curbing them. They are:
1. Practice attachment parenting whenever possible. Studies show that infants who are carried a lot and whose cues are sensitively responded to are mellower and less prone to tantrums. They seem to be able to recover quicker from emotional upset and are less prone to outbursts. Children who are parented in much less attached ways are less able to recover from emotional storms. It seems that parents with attached children are able to read them better and head off tantrums before they occur. It seems that making it easier to deal with temper tantrums is one of the immediate payoffs of attachment parenting.
2. Minimize the triggers that can bring on tantrums. Know what sets your toddler up for a possible tantrum, and see if you can possibly avoid it. Understand that they seem to happen most when the child is hungry, tired or overstimulated.
3. Know your own stress buttons. Some toddlers seem especially in tune to what pushes their parent’s buttons. The combination of a tantrum-prone child and a parent with a short fuse presents a major risk for conflict. You need to realize quickly that a mature response to your child’s pre-tantrum behavior may be the key to ending the entire temper tantrum episode before it starts.