A public temper tantrum is many parents’ worst nightmare. It can be overwhelming to have other people watch and judge as your toddler cries and screams on the floor of the grocery store or at the park. You may be unsure of how to handle the situation. Let’s go over why they happen and what to do about temper tantrums when they occur.

Why Kids Throw Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums, you’ll be relieved to know, are a very normal part of your child’s development. Around age one, your child will begin to show some independence and have opinions about lots of things. Unfortunately, their language development lags behind and it can be difficult for them to communicate with their caregivers what they want or need. A temper tantrum is how they show that they are frustrated.

How to Stop A Tantrum in Public

Dealing with children’s tantrums in public is no different than dealing with one at home except that you may have an audience. Remember that all parents have been through this before, so there is no need to be embarrassed.

Here are a few strategies that can help if your child is throwing a temper tantrum:

Name the Feelings

Help your child learn to express their feelings in an appropriate way by naming what you think they are feeling. Saying “I know you are frustrated right now because you wanted to go down the slide first. We need to take turns.”

End the Trip

If you are somewhere for the child, like the park, simply end the trip. The child will learn that a tantrum means they can’t stay and enjoy the place they want to be.

Count to 3

Tell your child that if they don’t stop the bad behavior by the time you count to three, they will have to go to time out to calm down. With practice, most parents find this to be a good way to communicate that they are serious.

Ignore the Behavior

By ignoring your child when they throw a tantrum, you will effectively communicate that the behavior is unacceptable and that it won’t get them whatever they are seeking.

Which strategy is best will depend on the circumstances, but each of these options will help put a stop to a public tantrum. We know it can be tempting to just give in but it will teach your child that yelling and crying is a good way to get whatever they want. Standing your ground is difficult in the moment, but will be much easier in the long run.

Most children will outgrow tantrums as they build their communication skills, but if you have any concerns about your child’s emotional development, contact your pediatrician at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.