By Mary Beth Sammons - May 4, 2012
It's a familiar scenario for many moms: You're pushing a full cart through the grocery store when suddenly your toddler starts screaming. Now what? As Circle of Moms Rita L. wonders, “How can I be patient when my child throws himself on the floor?”
To help you keep your cool — and your sanity — during a toddler meltdown, here are five smart strategies from Circle of Moms members.
1. Stay Calm
As tempted as you might be to raise your voice, yelling will likely only aggravate your toddler's tantrum. “It’s important to stay calm and collected,” explains Jeanie T. “Whenever parents scream or yell, it is monkey see, monkey do and the kids get worse. If you stay calm and use a time-out and a gentle [approach] (sit down holding the child in your lap for a time out together) you’ll stay calmer and your kids will be more emotionally balanced.”
2. Don’t Worry About What Others Think
As Katrina B. realized, there's no sense in worrying about what public observers think. “I was crying myself at the cash register when my three-year-old had a tantrum because I got so many looks from people in the store that day because of her screaming,” she recalls. “I realized that I was letting her win by getting so upset and in the future [I shouldn't care] so much.” Suzanne S. strongly agrees: “Don't worry about what other people think, stand tall in your choice on how to deal with them,” she says. “Anyone with kids would relate and people who don't won't understand.”
3. Just Leave
Another tantrum survival strategy many moms employ to keep from coming unraveled is to simply leave the store. When Kim L.'s son has public tantrums she removes him from the store until he calms down: “I bend down pick him up and walk outside. We talk about it and if I can't control it we go home.” Helen W. agrees: "Why do [other customers and employees of the store] have to listen to your screaming child out of control? I have three kids and when they had tantrums I just left and took them home.”
4. Create Distractions
The distraction is a more covert ways to keep your calm while trying to turn the screaming off, moms say. “Instead of getting irritated one should try and distract his attention and get him to focus on something else,” says Misha S.
5. Ignore It
Another key trick to keeping your wits during a toddler meltdown is to remember who has the power. You can stay in charge, insists Rachael B., by pretending it isn’t happening: “Just ignore him and if he sees that you aren’t going to pay him attention when he acts like that he will stop."
Kristi W. had a similar experience with her daughter: “My two-year-old went through the tantrum phase but when she realized that I wasn't giving in or giving her attention she stopped. Even if you are telling them to stop that is giving them attention. What I did was walk away and don’t give in."