If you thought three-year-old leave tantrums behind them with the terrible-twos, think again. Children know the power of a well timed tantrum in public. It is most likely to send their parents scrambling to satisfy their every need. But it makes taking your kids out a stressful affair.
Here are some ideas that might work to contain the next explosive temper tantrum and prevent it from happening too frequently:
- Prevention Better Than Cure: Always make sure your child is well fed and well rested before setting out. If you expect to be out for a while, pack snacks, a picture book or a small pad and crayons. Sometimes tiredness, hunger and boredom all fuel your child’s fit of temper.
- Nip It In The Bud: If you know that your child is likely to demand a toy that you don’t want to buy them, or will cry about sharing with their cousin, let them know in advance what their expected behaviour should be. Give them an incentive for containing their temper. For example, let your child know that if they are calm and well mannered in the store, you might let them watch an extra bit of TV or spend a little extra time on the tablet. Then, keep your word. If they make a scene about the toy, and later demand the extra time on the TV, remind them that they did not earn it. Similarly, if they do exercise self control, reward them with praise and the promised time on TV.
- Distract and Avoid: This might not work on the most tenacious three-year-old, but it is worth a try. As soon as you see your child get ready for battle, steer the child out of the area and direct their attention elsewhere. Then avoid the topic that triggered the tantrum earlier.
- Affection:. Sometimes a tantrum is less about what they want and more about how out of control they are feeling. Sometimes, all they need is an adult who can bring them comfort. A long cuddle and kisses calms them down quickly.
- Leave: When you are in public and your child decides to bring the roof down, simply gather your screaming child and head out of wherever you are. Walk completely out of the area and wait till your child calms down fully. Once they are back to normal, explain that they have one more chance and if they cannot manage their temper you will both simply have to leave. This method only works if you are fully committed to it. In all likelihood, your child will test you and throw another tantrum. In that case, keep your word and leave. Yes, go straight home.
No matter what method you choose to employ to tackle the next public tantrum, remember that nothing works unless you are consistent. It is important for children to learn that tantrums are powerless because they cannot get you what you want.