Choo Choo Train

Ways to Defuse a Child’s Tantrum in Public

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You made a grocery list, you talked to your child about what to expect at the market, and now both of you are at one of the aisles. Things were good until your child started to stomp or cry or yelling kicks because he or she was upset that you didn’t want to buy that toy. Or your family was at the park, or the beach and your child was wailing because you said it was time to go home. Planning ahead and preparing your child for a successful public outing can reduce the chances of your child having tantrums but they can still happen. And there are some ways you can try to stop them. 

Stay calm, and try not to react. 

Defuse a meltdown by staying in control. If you give a big reaction, it may teach your child that this is the right way to get your attention. Take a breath and look at your child without saying anything first. 

Focus on your child, not the witnesses.

When you are calm, ignore the people who are looking at you and get down to your child’s level. Validate your child’s feelings by connecting with her or him: “I know you are upset, that is why you are crying.” Then, redirect your child to find a solution together: “What can we do to make you feel better?”  

Give your child a task.

Once your child is able to listen to you, give her or him a task to survive the remainder of your public outing. At the market you can ask your child to find things for you: “Can you help me find the apples please?” At the park, you can ask your child to collect some leaves or stones to make art with later: “Can you collect some leaves to bring home?” At the beach, you can ask your child to collect shells, obviously: “How about we collect some shells before we go home?” 

Delay the no. 

No is a common source of tantrums for children. A strategy you can try is to delay the request. At the market, if your child asks for a toy you can say: “Let’s get our groceries first. Then we can go home and play with your toys.” If your child asks for candy you can say: “Let’s get our groceries first. Then we can go home and have a sweet treat.” 

Consider a yes.

Sometimes, your child may not request something you need to buy. Instead, your child may request something you need to do. For example, she or he is tired from walking and asks to be carried. It is understandable so consider a yes if you can handle it. 

Tantrums happen frequently at Choo Choo Train Baby & Child Care Centre. While it is not a public situation, the witnesses are fellow young children so the strategies also involve removing the child from the classroom full of other children to somewhere quiet and private, away from other children until the child is ready to return to the activity. We hope you have found these tips applicable, mommy and daddy!