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How do you handle tantrums?
in public? private?


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#1 chookpea

Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:32 PM

I try not to make a scene, try to calm him down, and if that works then all good.  But today DS1 who is 4 had a major meltdown at a toy shop.  

DH was with me and he is a bit of a softy.  Likes to take the softly softly, let's talk and reason with him approach (to a screaming 4 year old...errr...no!).  I give him a stern warning, a threat (not the best idea I know but god it was full on screaming/flailing/writhing on the floor etcetc today).

So how do you handle a situation like that?  Ignore it?  Reason with him?  Give him a smack?

By the time we got home DS (and us!) were exhausted.  I've packed all his trains away as punishment and that's it.  I don't know what else to do.

So how do you handle tantrums and meltdowns while you're out?  We're not taking him to any toy shop for a while that's for sure!

#2 Feral Borgia

Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:39 PM

You poor thing..tantrums are awful, public tantrums are vile....

I think a smack would only make the situation worse...? When it happened to me (a couple of times) I just picked him up as carefully as I could and walked outside.....I didn't give in to his demands...usually we went home ...all the way I just wished a big hole would open up and swallow me...and him.

Yeh I avoided toy shops with him for a while too....


#3 two_ones

Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:57 PM

My friend has passed on to me her tip for tantrums (I have not had the need to use it though I'm sure that day is coming!)

When her DD would throw a tantrum at the shops, she would announce to everyone within earshot "Excuse me everyone, my daughter is having a tantrum because xyz..." And this would usually embarrass her DD into quieting down.

Worked for her but takes a lot of guts I reckon!


#4 ChunkyChook

Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:57 PM

We up and leave immediately if it turns into a full blown tantrum.

I t always starts with a sook and a whinge about something and escalates from there. I give 3 warnings of:

1. Stop, stop now.
2. I asked you to stop that behaviour.
3. I am not going to ask you to stop that behaviour again.

All in less than a minute. I will then carry her kicking and screaming from the shop/shopping centre if I need to.



#5 CupOfCoffee

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:03 PM

I wish I knew what to do with tantrums.

Yesterday my daughter started one in soccer (she is also 4).  I told her that she needed to stop before I counted to three or we were going home.  I counted to three, and I picked her up and took her home.

I am just exhausted from them.

#6 kahm

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

I've never had to deal with meltdowns on an ongoing basis, so (really, seriously!) pardon me for butting in.

My niece has meltdowns fairly frequently.  She's 4.5.
She's a lovely kid, and she feels things so much more deeply than she can express, so she looses it.  It's part frustration and it's partly her losing control of her own emotions.
Tantrums can start from just about anything, whether adults around can follow her logic or think she's just being really really silly.

She's not doing it to be disobedient or naughty, she's genuinely distressed and out of control.  So when I'm babysitting her, what I find works is to take her somewhere quiet (where her brother can't wind her up any further!) and help her to calm herself (it helps that she's a really cuddly kid, so she responds really well to touch).  
There's no point talking things over until she can be rational again and threatening punishments just scares the hell out of her - it's like she's already terrified of her own emotions and now she's in trouble too the whole thing just gets worse.

She's slowly learning the skills she needs to calm herself, but she needs someone to show her how, over and over again.

Not sure if that's your scene or likely to suit your situation, just thought I'd offer the (limited) experience.

#7 Madeline's Mum

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:31 PM

Watching this thread with interest. My 18 month old chucks huge Wobblies and nothing seems to help.

You can't really reason with an 18 month old so we've been telling him we would put him in our room or the corner and give him three warnings, now he doesn't care and just goes mental. sad.gif

Edited by Madeline's Mum, 24 February 2013 - 05:32 PM.


#8 Ice Queen

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:33 PM

I ignore generally in public.  I dont care about the embarrassment factor and just hold my head and keep going. My DD loves going and doing things so once we are in the car I will sya something and usually tell her that if she behaves like that then there will be no coffees, library visits, parks etc.  I make it very clear that behaviour in public is not okay.  But I find this is best done away from the public place.  I dont ever make a scene out and about.

When DD turned 3 she had a bad phase, it really was just utter frustration and tiredness.  i did used to hold her tight, she would struggle, but eventually collapse and I could kind of tightly cuddle her until she calmed.  Also empathising with her worked.  'I know you wanted to watch Play School but we really have to go out and I am so sorry as Play School is a great show but the shops are going to shut soon.'. IYKWIM.  Making her understand that I don't WANT to upset her but sometimes we just have accept things.

#9 baddmammajamma

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:44 PM

QUOTE (ChunkyChook @ 24/02/2013, 05:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We up and leave immediately if it turns into a full blown tantrum.

I t always starts with a sook and a whinge about something and escalates from there. I give 3 warnings of:

1. Stop, stop now.
2. I asked you to stop that behaviour.
3. I am not going to ask you to stop that behaviour again.

All in less than a minute. I will then carry her kicking and screaming from the shop/shopping centre if I need to.


Exactly this for any tantrums that my kids have throw.

For ASD-related meltdowns, we also up and leave immediately, if we can do so. With those, though, I don't do steps 1-3. I just try to get my daughter to a quiet place where she can come up for air.

#10 Cat People

Posted 24 February 2013 - 05:45 PM

QUOTE (kahm @ 24/02/2013, 06:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's part frustration and it's partly her losing control of her own emotions.
Tantrums can start from just about anything, whether adults around can follow her logic or think she's just being really really silly.

She's not doing it to be disobedient or naughty, she's genuinely distressed and out of control.  So when I'm babysitting her, what I find works is to take her somewhere quiet (where her brother can't wind her up any further!) and help her to calm herself (it helps that she's a really cuddly kid, so she responds really well to touch).  
There's no point talking things over until she can be rational again and threatening punishments just scares the hell out of her - it's like she's already terrified of her own emotions and now she's in trouble too the whole thing just gets worse.

She's slowly learning the skills she needs to calm herself, but she needs someone to show her how, over and over again.


This is a lovely approach.

No-one wants to tantrum.  It's awful losing control like that.  And the last thing we need is a punishment, or threat to frighten us more.  Just stay close, a cuddle or soothing pat if they like that (some don't), validate their feelings (only if they want to talk and your words are soothing them).

Controlling emotions/impulses IS a skill and like any new skill it takes time and patience.  You wouldn't punish or threaten a toddler just learning to walk for falling over would you?  After the tantrum is finished you could talk about ways of dealing with angry, frustrations, etc.

I like the very simple model of Circle of Healing


Mom/Dad, when I get upset (frustrated,
withdrawn, whiney, demanding, out of control):
My behavior
actually
means
that
I need
you.
I need you to:
♦ Be calm
♦ Take Charge
♦ Be kind
♦ Stay with me
until we both
understand this
feeling that
seems too much
for me alone
♦ Help me return
to what I was
doing, with a
new option  


#11 Penguin78

Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:00 PM

My DS throws the odd tantrum and when he does they are loud and on the floor. I ignore. Stay close, but ignore and if it's about something he wants after a short time if he hasn't stopped I offer an alternative that I am happy with. So if he wants a lolly pop I offer grapes . Or I start talking about something fun we might do at home once he has calmed down.

I am not one for punishing a tantrum, since I personallying think they are about control of emotions. But maybe if he was four... mm.. not sure.

Just don't ever give in or rewards. But I think you staying calm and taking him out of the shop or whatever if it doesn't stop is the right approach.

#12 bambiigrrl

Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:04 PM

you need a different approach based on age. a 2 year old cant help it and i will generally try distraction, ignor them or as a last resort put them in thier room for a time out. its a good idea to anticipate what situations might set them them off ahead of time and be ready with some sort of game plan. a 4 year old, imo should know better and be met with disipline. my 4 year old does not through tantrums anymore, she will whinge and whine and sulk for a while but never throw herself on the ground  she grew out if that ages ago.

#13 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:09 PM

I have 2 that currently throw tantrums, a 3 and 4 yr old.  Mostly I find they can be avoided by avoiding the places/situations that they are most likely to occur.  For example I wouldn't consider taking a hot, hungry, tired child to the shops because it would be guaranteed to end in one.
I try to plan things well so that we avoid them but sometimes they still happen and I just give them one warning to calm down and speak to me about the problem, give them an opportunity to talk and then see if I can work through it to resolve it but if they are just in total meltdown no talking will ever work s it's time to abort  mission and head home.  Most important thing for me is to stay calm and move on from it as quickly as possible, I don't linger/dwell on it or keep talking about it at home.



#14 bettymm

Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:04 PM

The best technique is to try to avoid them by not venturing to the shops when the child is hungry or tired IME.  I found the age 2-3 particular awful for the public meltdown, usually at a shopping centre.  If you do, or sometimes if you dont and the surprise one hits, best thing if u can catch it before it gets in to full swing by talking them down with a bribe or something (probably frowned upon here) but desperate times hey?!  otherwise its bundle them up and head for the nearest exit!!  I dont do punishment but will take her to a calm place when we get home and let her finish it if she is still going and then just try to explain why she couldnt have what she wanted etc. and do something relaxing together if you can like read a book or watch some tv.  Or down for a nap if needed.

At age 4 though, I would expect them to be able to hold it together a bit more (baring any medical issues or other changes at the moment) and would probably tell them Im disappointed in that behaviour and take a privilege away at home (after being warned that would happen at the place the tantrum took happened), like what you did with the trains.


I had to take my tired 4 year old to the shops today actually and while she doesnt tantrum anymore, she does get whingy/whiny "I want" .

#15 CallMeFeral

Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:20 PM

I try to reason with them, and can usually tell in the first few seconds whether they are open to reason or just losing it.
If they are losing it, I just ignore it until it stops, which it eventually does, either by then going completely back to normal, or at least stopping the tantrum and wanting attention which means they are ready to talk about it and reason. When it is without reason, paying them attention just seems to prolong it.


#16 BornToLove

Posted 24 February 2013 - 07:31 PM

Tantrums in public, we leave. No extra chances or empty threats.
DD is given the warning and then I pick her up and we leave if it continues. I've done it a handful of times now and she gets it, she will tell me the next time were out that she needs to listen or we go home. DD is young enough that leaving is a big deal to her, so we dont do anything after we leave. If she was older and not unreasonable that she be better behaved, she might be sent right to her room until dinner or something.
IMO a public tantrum will never end well and teaches a child that behaviour is okay in public. Be consistent and follow through when you say that you're leaving. Kids are smart and get it, you just have to have some meaning behind your words.

#17 Aquarium

Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

QUOTE (Madame Protart @ 24/02/2013, 06:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is a lovely approach.

No-one wants to tantrum.  It's awful losing control like that.  And the last thing we need is a punishment, or threat to frighten us more.  Just stay close, a cuddle or soothing pat if they like that (some don't), validate their feelings (only if they want to talk and your words are soothing them).

Controlling emotions/impulses IS a skill and like any new skill it takes time and patience.  You wouldn't punish or threaten a toddler just learning to walk for falling over would you?  After the tantrum is finished you could talk about ways of dealing with angry, frustrations, etc.

I like the very simple model of Circle of Healing


Mom/Dad, when I get upset (frustrated,
withdrawn, whiney, demanding, out of control):
My behavior
actually
means
that
I need
you.
I need you to:
♦ Be calm
♦ Take Charge
♦ Be kind
♦ Stay with me
until we both
understand this
feeling that
seems too much
for me alone
♦ Help me return
to what I was
doing, with a
new option


That's great, am going to print it out.


#18 TheWanderer

Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:18 PM

When the 4YO has had the odd meltdown, either in public or at home, I get out the camera phone and film it. Then once she calms down I play it back to her to show her how bad it looks and explain it is not acceptable behavior.  This usually gets met with embarrassment about what she did.

Regarding the idea of leaving the shops immediately... Well if we have other things to do then we don't leave, we just let the tantrum fizzle out then get on with whatever it is we are doing. A 4 YO does not get to dictate what the rest of the family does.

Edited by TheWanderer, 24 February 2013 - 08:21 PM.


#19 cinnabubble

Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:25 PM

For the two year old, I usually say "Go on. yell louder". She's so stubborn that she refuses. Same principle for when she hits the decks and refuses to move -- "don't get up. Stay there! Don't move!" She's so stubborn that she immediately gets up.

The older one used to have screaming fits. Often in peak hour public transport where I could do nothing. I used to remind her gently that she couldn't have or do what she wanted and let her yell for a short while. Then I'd ask her if she's ready for a cuddle. It would only take a few repeats of that and she'd collapse sobbing into my arms. She has big emotions and is prone to catastrophisation, so she struggles to self-regulate, even now at six.

One classic tantrum the older one had was when she was just over three. I refused to give her chocolate and she screamed all the way from Wynyard to Marrickville on the crowded peak hour middle of Summer non-air-conditioned train. As a bonus, I was heavily pregnant at the time. That was fun.

Edited by cinnabubble, 24 February 2013 - 08:26 PM.


#20 Kay1

Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:42 PM

DS1 was a shocker for this. I would always prepare him for what we were doing eg. "We are going to the cafe but I am only buying a coffee. So don't ask for anything and no shouting and crying".

If he did have a tantrum I'd pick him up and leave - go home if at all possible. At home we had a 'thinking step' where he'd have to sit for three or four minutes. It worked really well for him because it gave him a definite outcome and a way to resolve the standoff. It seemed to give him some sort of control over things.

I do try to reason and talk first but once they are beyond that stage I think there's little point.




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