There are few things worse than being in the grocery store, ready to checkout and having your child throw a huge fit or sitting down at a restaurant only to have your child have a major mealtime meltdown.
In addition to dealing with your child, you’re often left dealing with the stares and comments of well-meaning strangers, wondering what’s going on with your wild child. The good news is that by following a few simple steps, you can avoid many of the situations that lead to major meltdowns when out in public.
1. Layout your expectations.
Children can’t live up to your expectations unless they know what those expectations are. When heading to the store or the diner, let your children know what you expect. “We’re heading to the store to get groceries. We aren’t getting candy, so don’t ask me to buy candy. The answer will be no.”
2. Plan ahead.
Set your child up for success.Avoid heading to the grocery store when your child is hungry or tired and don’t head to a restaurant after your child is already ready to eat. Instead, plan these outings around your child’s schedule to avoid situations that often result in tantrums. A hungry, overtired child isn’t as easily able to manage his behavior.
3. Mean what you say and say what you mean.
Usually you only have to leave your shopping cart in the grocery store isle once for your child to understand that you are serious about your expectations. Don’t make threats you aren’t willing to follow through with. Doing so will undermine your authority and encourage your kids to push the envelope when out in public.
4. Ignore, ignore, ignore.
While it can be tempting to alter the way you manage your child when he’s having a tantrum in public because people are watching, don’t. Being consistent and following through are the best ways to curb undesirable behavior.
When you are clear with your expectations, when you plan ahead, when you are prepared to follow through and when you are consistent with how you handle your child’s tantrums, you’ll be better able to avoid major meltdowns when out in public.