Friday, 10 March 2017

Coping with Public Toddler Tantrums

We've all been there, and if you haven't yet been there, I'm sorry to tell you, it's coming.  The dreaded, moment your child has THE meltdown of their life to date, in public.  You can feel the eyes on you, everyone is looking, watching, judging, some emphasising watching not only your child scream, shout and throw themselves around like they're being murdered but you.  They're watching to see how you're going to deal with the situation, particularly, to see if you're going to handle it the 'right' way.

If you're anything like me you'll be able to sense when it's coming, the humiliating moment a public tantrum hits I can feel my heart beating faster, my anxiety and stress levels go through the roof, I get hot and sweaty and just want the ground to swallow me up.  To be fair, we haven't had many of said episodes, but they have happened none the less, and I'm sure there are more in the pipe line, from both children.  We seemed to go through a spell of it happening frequently and now (get ready for me to curse myself) it doesn't happen as much.  It's led me to think about toddler tantrums and how I react to the situation.  Is it possible to positively resolve a tantrum in public?  Can we prevent it from happening in the first place?  If Emelia is tired then there is no stopping the eruption, but I think in some circumstances maybe tantrums could be prevented.

Here are ways I deal with/try to avoid the public tantrums:

Avoid Situations Where They'll Get Stressed 

Not always possible I understand, however, if I know a particular situation or place is going to cause Emelia to get stressed, resulting in some form of tantrum, I generally try to avoid it.  If it's something I need to do, for example go shopping, I try to plan it at a time when she is at nursery or when Brett can look after her.  If it's unavoidable, mentally prepare yourself for the tantrum that may happen at some point while you're out. 

React As If You're At Home

Try to always react to a tantrum as you would at home.  Children are very clever, if they see a change in your reaction to their behaviour they will test and test you.  As hard as it can be (and trust me I've been there), try not to worry about what other people think, it'll make you even more stressed, your child will pick up on it and is likely to react to it. Depending on the situation and the scale of the tantrum, sometimes ignoring it and doing nothing is the best remedy.

Stand Firm 

No matter what, do not give in to your child.  If a child gets what they want by screaming or throwing themselves on the floor (sometimes both) they will only do it again, probably louder.  Children don't really understand rules and explanations until they're around 3 years old, so there's little point in trying to reason with them in the heat of a tantrum.  When Emelia has had a melt down in public we move her to a place where she isn't going to hurt herself (or anyone else) and tell her (calmly - even if you're too screaming inside) that we will stay there until she has calmed down.  She doesn't associate this with the naughty step and it's not designed to be, it's just a safe place which usually helps to calm her down pretty quickly.  

Always Hug 

The most important part of dealing with a tantrum is to always hug them when they've calmed down. It's so important for children to feel like they can come back (say sorry if necessary) and move on.  Giving them a hug and moving on also teaches them that you don't hold grudges, I think this is so important for their self esteem. 


Just breathe.  It might sound silly but deep breathe throughout the tantrum, it certainly helps me to stay calm! Try and take a step back from the situation for a moment if you're feeling really stressed and angry.  Forget about anyone else around you.  Once I start focusing on my breathing I'm able to deal with the situation in a much calmer way, which ultimately calms Emelia down much quicker.  I always tell my self to ACT not REACT. 

Have you got any tips for dealing with tantrums in public?  Please leave them in the comments below! 



  1. These are such great tips to bare in mind! I dread what Amelia will be like hahaha!

  2. I'm dreading this. It's bad enough when he cries in public! Xx

    Glossy Boutique

  3. Great tips!! I've seen public tantrums handled really badly before, so I think I know what not to do!! ha ha