There is nothing more embarrassing than when your child throws a temper tantrum in public or starts giving you major attitude in front of everyone!
You can feel everyone staring at you…waiting to see how you’re going to handle this.
That can lead you to feeling like a deer in headlights. You don’t really know how to respond, you want to do that the right way, and you’re just so embarrassed.
Or you can jump to anger, where you want to show your child that this is not okay. You lay down the hammer and get really strict and try to get the yelling to just STOP!
So let’s talk about what you can do to help prevent temper tantrums from happening in public and what to do so you can remain calm and cool and handle it the best way you can when they do happen.
Preventing Tantrums from Happening.
Set your child up for success!
You can choose to either wing it and hope for the best when taking your child out in public, or you can take steps to set your child up for success.
If you’re taking your child to somewhere that isn’t super kid-friendly, or a place where they’ve got to wait around a while, recognize that that could be really hard for kids.
But if you have to take them to some of these places, think ahead.
What can you do to make the experience more fun for your child or more engaging for your child, whether that child be three to 13?
For example, you could take some audiobooks or a podcast or some toys for a child to play with while they’re waiting.
We also need to be setting up our kids for success by making sure that they are well-fed, they’ve had plenty of sleep, and they’re overall in a pretty good place.
If a three year old is out in the middle of the day when they should be napping, we’re setting that child up for failure. That child’s going to really struggle.
Say Yes instead of No
Nothing sets off a temper tantrum more than when you tell the child “NO!”
So here’s a little tip for you. Say no, while saying yes.
If your child really wants to go do something, but it’s not the right time or you aren’t comfortable with it. Say YES but No.
“Yes will absolutely do that just not right now.”
“Yes, you can have a snack in 5 minutes when we’re done here.”
“Yes, you may play with that toy that someone else has as soon as they’re done with it.”
By leading with Yes, you’ll get your child on board and less likely to fight the boundary you’ve put down.
Now the key with this is you have to follow through and actually do the thing that you said yes to! This leads to more trust and over time you’re child can trust that you’ll follow through so they’ll be less likely to keep asking or end up in a tantrum.
Make a plan and tell your kids.
Humans like knowing what’s coming next…even our smallest humans.
So creating a plan for the day with your kids and letting them know what to expect is key to preventing tantrums.
By knowing what’s about to happen, they feel more secure and less likely to fall apart when things go differently than what they expected.
And if a plan has to change…communicate that with your child.
Staying Cool During a Tantrum
Now the truth is that even if you prep and plan everything, your child still might end up in a tantrum.
Now, when tantrums happen we have two choices.
We can get mad and angry and throw gasoline on the fire…and potentially make the tantrum worse.
Or….you can be the calming waters that help your child find calm.
But staying calm when your kid isn’t, can be super hard…especially out in public when everyone is watching.
So here are some tips to stay calm and cool…
If you know you’ll be heading out in public with your child and you know they might have a hard time, practice what you’ll do beforehand.
Imagine the situation. Where are you? What is your child doing? How will you respond?
Think through the situation before and practice, in your head, how you’ll stay calm and respond.
This way you’re prepped and ready if a tantrum happens.
Make a plan with your group
If you’ll be with a group or another adult, make a plan with that adult.
Say, “Hey, if one of the kids starts tantruming, you go take the other kids and I’ll stay with the struggling child. I’ll text you and meet up with you when we’re calm.”
That way, you don’t feel the pressure to make tantrum stop quickly for the rest of the group.
Change your mindset about the tantrum
When your child is having a temper tantrum, they’re obviously having a really hard time about something. Tantrums happen because your child is triggered and upset about something.
When you start seeing your child melting down and having a tantrum, recognize that your child is struggling. When you think about their behavior that way, you’re going to be able to stay calmer.
Versus if you believe that your child is having a tantrum because they’re being vindictive or manipulative or to get back at you, you’re going to jump to anger.
Remember…your child is having a hard time, not giving you a hard time!
Forget everyone else
No one’s really watching you.
And if they are, they’re either watching and commiserating…
“Oh my gosh, I’ve been there before.”
“That’s so hard I feel for that mom.”
or they are judging…
“Man, that woman needs to get a kid under control!”
I’m sorry to say that there are those people out there.
But do you really care about their opinion of you? They’re judgy and you’ll probably never see them again…ever. So don’t let their judgment interfere with how you respond to your kids.
Whenever you’re feeling like everyone is watching and judging, remind yourself…
- Most people understand and have been there.
- None of these people matter.
- All the matters is my child.
Stopping the Tantrum
When tantrums happen, a lot of parents go straight into trying to fix or stop the tantrum.
We think, Why is this happening? How do I get to stop? How do I fix this? What does my child want?
We want to go straight into fixing because we think that will make the tantrum stop quicker.
But getting logical and trying to fix will just make the tantrum worse.
If your child is emotional, and their brain is functioning in an emotional place, not a logical one.
Their brain can’t get to logic when they’re spun up in emotion. So we have to meet them in an emotional place.
And the best way to go about doing that is to acknowledge that they’re having a hard time and acknowledge their feelings.
“Wow, you’re really mad right now!”
“You really wanted that and couldn’t have it. That makes you so sad.”
Let your child know that you hear them, that you get just how mad they are and why.
When a child feels heard and understood, they will get calmer. Plus, they don’t have to show you how mad they are…you already get it.
So if you want to de escalate a temper tantrum and big behaviors, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge their feelings until your child can get to a calm place.
Sometimes our kids get overwhelmed, over stimulated, hungry, tired, and stressed. All these feelings are like pent up energy. Then one tiny thing happens and they explode.
The best thing we can do for our kids is to hold space for them to cry, vent, and be upset so they can get some of that energy out.
Holding space for your child is key to getting them calmer.
When you’re child is having a tantrum, move to a safe place where they can be emotional.
Getting calm first is a MUST because you can not solve a problem when your child is functioning an emotional place.
Then move into problem solving with your child.
I know that’s hard when you’re in public and people are watching you…I get it, I’ve been there.
It’s embarrassing and can bring up all sorts of feelings of inadequacy inside of us.
But remember a few key things.
- You child is having a hard time, not giving you a hard time.
- The calmer you are, the quicker your child will get calm too.
- You can either be the gasoline that fuels the fire, or the calming waters.
- Meet emotion with emotion, not logic.
- Change your mindset about the people watching.
Every child’s gonna have big emotions, they’re going to cry, they’re going to fall apart. It’s part of being human.
But it’s our job to stay calm and cool for them so that we can help them through those big emotions.
Now, if you’re struggling with getting your children to listen to you, and you don’t know how to be that calming waters for your child, check out my free workshop called, The 3 Mistakes Parents Make When Trying To Get Their Kids to Listen.
It’s free and you can watch it whenever you’re ready….and yes, it has a pause button.
Just sign up below!