Public tantrums are the stuff of nightmares for parents. It can be soul-destroying to watch your child kick off in the middle of a public place. Most attempts to defuse the situation fail and in my experience, often make the behaviour worse.
I have made no secret of the fact that Mia’s temperament lulled me into a false sense of security. Her early years were a breeze, she has been incredibly chilled from day one. Theo is the complete opposite. He does it all, the foot stomping, the huffing, the kicking and hitting and the classic sticking out of the tongue. The children have an incredible bond and are utterly hilarious together, but they couldn’t be more different if they tried!
Those who know me personally will know that I have very little patience.
Public tantrums often trigger my social anxiety, causing me to panic. My panic means I’m always incredibly tempted to succumb to his demands. However, despite my temptation I know that if I give in he will believe his behaviour is acceptable.
It’s taken nearly 5 and a half years, but I think I’ve finally cracked it. Nowadays public tantrums, although infuriating, are much easier to manage. If I sense that Theo is heading towards an almighty kick off, the first thing I do is take a deep breath. It’s a simple but effective way or preparing your mind and body for tackling a difficult situation.
Once I’ve taken a deep breath, I get down to his level and make eye contact with him. I explain why he can’t have/can’t do whatever it is he wants. I find remaining above him only infuriates him further. Explaining before the tantrum is in full swing usually means we avoid the stomping feet and wobbly bottom lip.
When this fails, I try to reach a compromise with him.
I offer to get him a blind bag if he behaves for the remainder of the day and apologizes, or explain that he can earn some pennies helping me around the house to save up for what he wants. Theo absolutely loves earning his own money doing simple jobs like helping me weed the garden or wash up, so this technique works well.
If he continues to make demands I pick him up, without making eye contact or speaking to him, and remove him from the building/room. When this happens, he knows I am not particularly pleased with him and after five minutes of time out I am given a big cuddle and a resistant apology.
Dealing with public tantrums can be difficult, especially for those who suffer with anxiety. It’s so hard to remain calm when your fuse is short. The techniques I’ve mentioned above will only work if you remain consistent. Do not give in on a tough day, no matter how much you want too. Eventually they learn that they are not in control, Mummy/Daddy is!
If you have any tried and tested methods for dealing with public tantrums please do let me know in the comments below.