Tantrums are a part of our children’s path of growing up. Once that toddler hits the age of two we all know that “terrible twos” is a real thing. Do not worry parents, I am here to tell you that the “terrible twos” does not only last for one year because, but the truth is also, it lasts for two years. Yes, there is the “terrible twos” but there is also the “threenager” phase (a funny name I like to call the wonderful second year of the “terrible twos”).
I do not know about all you parents out there but I know that I was honestly terrified for the day that my son would throw, one of many, tantrums in public. The fear of not knowing where that tantrum would happen, or when it would happen, or who it would happen in front of. I began to ask myself some very real questions, such as: How would I react when my son has a tantrum in public? What is an appropriate reaction to my child’s tantrums in public? Would I be judged? Would my son be judged for having a bad day? Many of us have these concerns, it is only natural! But, as moms, we need to not judge each other when we see other moms struggling with their difficult toddler and we need to remember that we all have bad days.
For my son, the “terrible twos” literally started the day he turned two. He had his two- year- old appointment in the morning of his second birthday and I distinctly remember our pediatrician asking me if my son has begun a tantrum. Of course, I truthfully said he had not started any tantrum but man oh man did I jinx myself. After my son’s doctor appointment, I headed to the store to get some last minute party favors for his birthday. We walked into Target, scrambled passed the toy section, and then… it happened… My son dropped right on the middle of the floor and began crying and yelling… All because I did not get him the toy he wanted. I am usually not one to give in easily when my son gets upset about something, but at that moment I was so embarrassed by my son’s tantrum that I almost gave in because I was honestly more than embarrassed. He was starting to tantrum to the point where he, basically, turned into a limp noodle- making it nearly impossible for me to pick him up. I was scrambling with the cart, trying to calm my son, as well as keep my composure while dealing with my first public tantrum. As my thoughts are everywhere as I try to appropriately handle this situation I reminded myself to not worry about what others are thinking about how I handle my son because every parent has been there!
Below I have listed some tips that help me, personally, handle those hard days with a tantrum-throwing toddler while being out and about. I hope they help you as well!
Top 10 tips on how to handle public tantrums:
- IMPORTANT! Remember, parents, to take a breath and do not get worked up or embarrassed that your toddler is having a tantrum.
- Talk calmly to your toddler about why they cannot behave a certain way but do not give in to what they are fussing about! (We don’t want them to think that they can always get their way by throwing a fit)
- If you are in a restaurant and your toddler begins to miss behave, do not just ignore them! (You never know what other parents may be on a date, having a little break from their own kids). Take them to the restroom and speak to them calmly.
- Depending on where you are, take a step outside with your toddler and allow them to calm down before heading back inside. (This usually works best for me, allowing my son to get some fresh air).
- Depending on the child’s age, make up a “codeword” that you can tell your toddler when they start to miss behave. Making them aware that you notice that they are misbehaving- a “warning” or “strike one”.
- I am a huge advocate for not embarrassing my son when he is misbehaving or having a tantrum. I do discipline him, but I do not embarrass him when we are in public or in front of other people… My son also responds better when I remove him from the situation in which he is misbehaving and we handle the disciplining between the two of us.
- Sometimes it is okay to just let them cry it out. It is good for them to know and understand their feelings, and also for them to learn how to address what they are feeling. Give them space.
- Distract your child. If they cannot have one thing, or do one thing just redirect them. For example, “we cannot get this but let’s pick something out from over here instead” or “we do not throw that at people, we place it here instead”.
- Make sure your child has napped or is able to nap if you are planning on having a long day!
- Give them some TLC. Our toddlers do not even understand fully why they are having a tantrum… So give them so love, offer hugs, or even give them a snack!
We all dread those public tantrums, usually because we are nervous of other parents judging us. Well, when we see a parent struggling with a tantrum-throwing toddler, remember to not make the parent feel uncomfortable! Do not rush to the conclusion that they are bad parents. Toddlers have bad days, and when our toddlers lose it, the stress of the surroundings sometimes stress us out as parents. That is why you need to stay calm, smile, and deal with your toddler in an appropriate manner. Forget about who is “watching”, we do not want to give into our toddler’s tantrum because of the stress of the situation and surrounding. We need to stay in control! Show those parents that you have the “terrible twos” totally under control. Smile and send a nod to your fellow parent out there. Remember, support each other on this crazy journey! (Oh and do not show your tots your weakness!)