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Dealing with your child’s tantrums

It can be incredibly embarrassing when your child has a complete meltdown in public. Not only is their disruptive tantrum on display, but so are your parenting skills. Here’s some advice on how to get a handle on the situation.

Toddler tantrum

Nearly every parent will have to deal with their child having a temper tantrum in public at some point. While you want to die of embarrassment and pretend the kid’s not yours, take solace in the fact that parents witnessing the scene know where you’re coming from. And since you can’t exactly run and hide until their tantrum’s over, here’s some advice on how to handle the situation.

Stay calm

Get down to your child’s level and talk in a soothing voice. Acknowledge that they’re upset, but let them know that it is time to calm down now. You can ask them to voice what’s bothering them and see what compromise you can come to; or, you can be straightforward, noting how upset they are but requesting that they give you just a bit more time to finish the task at hand. This talk may be enough to distract them; just in case, a toy from home kept strategically in your purse may be enough to distract a younger child. Even picking up your child and moving them to a different spot may be enough distraction and get them to quit their meltdown.

Staying collected is key. If you lose control and start yelling — well, who do you think your child models their behaviour after? They’ll learn that shouting is an appropriate way of communicating.

Be firm

Once your child calms down, don’t reward their behaviour — not with praise and certainly not with whatever they were demanding (a chocolate bar, for example, that they saw in the grocery store). You don’t want to reinforce that this is how they can get what they want.

Call it quits and head home

You’ve acknowledged their distress, you’ve tried to calm them and they’re still acting out. At this point, if nothing else is working, you may need to simply call it a day and head home with them — where you’ll give them a time-out until they apologize.

Praise them when they’ve been well behaved on outings

To help prevent tantrums from occurring , on the days your child has been well behaved, be sure to let them know how proud and happy you are with them. This may help reinforce their good behaviour.

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