When Your Child Throws a Fit at the Store
Of all the embarrassing situations to find yourself in as a parent, being in public when your child throws a fit is one of the worst. Temper tantrums are normal from time to time for most children, but when your child has some sort of special need, the problem is compounded. It can increase the frequency and severity of these tantrums, and yet the condition itself is invisible to others. They look at you with judging and annoyed glances, as if you can control your child’s tantrums every time.
Before you consider individual techniques to use, you have to remember to keep the proper mindset. These techniques require you to be cool, calm, and confident about your parenting abilities, and to ignore the judgment from strangers. Your child knows the most efficient way to get your attention is to throw a tantrum in public, so that you get embarrassed and give in to whatever he wants.
Children throwing tantrum typically simply try to get what they want, but sometimes it can have deeper psychological context. But tantrums resulting from sheer frustration or fright are different, and this technique should be used for attention-seeking tantrums only (assuming he is getting enough attention at home and this is not a result of emotional void). If your child is anxious about something, frightened, or frustrated at his own limitations, empathy or immediately leaving the store may be a quicker and healthier way to respond.
1: Control him physically first
Children tantrum is often expressed both vocally and physically. Children who are in the middle of a fit are prone to running away, flailing and hurting themselves, or accidentally hurting other people. They might seize items on shelves or cause destruction if they have violent tendencies, too. The best way to control your child so he won’t harm himself or others is to firmly hold his hand. If he drops down to the floor and thrashes, continue standing and holding his hand.
2: Give him another option
Anger and anxiety in children makes it impossible for parent to reason with the child. Tell him that when he stops throwing a fit, you will speak to him. This is the “way out” for him to recognize both logically and emotionally when he calms down. Don’t say anything else except this, and don’t keep repeating it. If he has heard it, repeating it will only give him more attention. And attention is what tantrum children wants the most.
3: Wait for him to calm down
This is the most agonizing part if you are in public, but for the method to work, you need to be very firm in how you apply it. Giving in will only reinforce that fits work, and even if he reasons that he’s not screaming loud enough and intensifies the tantrum at first, he will eventually realize that they don’t work if you don’t give in. Turn your face away, and if you must carry him out of the store, do it robotically without showing frustration, anger, embarrassment, or any other emotions, then put him down as soon as possible.
4: Reward him when the tantrum stops
The moment he stops screaming or speaks in a normal tone of voice, resume all your normal attention. Look at him, make eye contact, behave lovingly, kneel to talk to him, and calmly explain why he can’t have what he wants. If the bad behavior resumes again, start from the beginning.
Throwing a fit in public is often a child’s last resort to get what he wants. If you can learn to thwart this attempt, you may find yourself with a better-behaved child in just a few weeks.
Tagged temper tantrum