Top 5 Ways to Deal with Shopping Tantrums

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There are very few things more frustrating and embarrassing than your child having a tantrum.  But when your child has a tantrum while you are out shopping, it is the worst.  The child being overly tired can cause tantrums.  It can also happen because the child is frustrated over something they can’t do or aren’t being allowed to do.  Knowing what causes tantrums can help you figure out what you can do to minimize their frequency and severity.  Check out the Top 5 ways to deal with shopping tantrums.

  1. Ignore it: The child is acting out in order to get your attention.  While the child is frustrated they cannot be reasoned with when they are in such a highly agitated state.  It is very difficult to do, but you must turn your back on the scene that your child is making.  Continue to shop nearby and keep a surreptitious eye on your child.  Once your child realizes that you are not paying attention the tantrum should stop.  When the child stops throwing the tantrum it’s a good idea to wrap up the shopping trip and head home.  The child obviously could use a nap or some quiet time.  When the child is calm you can let them know that their behavior was inappropriate and should never happen again.  Sometimes what triggers the tantrum is important and other times it’s just a symptom.  Let the child know a more positive way to act if they are angry.
  2. Remove the child: If you are not in a place where you can let the child have the tantrum or if you just can’t stand the embarrassment you can remove the child from the store.  More than likely the child will continue to kick and throw a fit as you are trying to take them out, but stay firm.  Once the child is out of the situation they may calm down.  If they do not then let them have their tantrum where you choose instead of where they choose.  Most tantrums last less than 2 minutes so hang in there.  It will be over soon.
  3. Set expectations: If your child tends to throw tantrums at the grocery store then you need to talk with them before you go to the store and explain to them exactly what you expect from them and how you expect them to behave and to not behave.  Tell the child, “We’re going to go to the grocery store to pick up some food.  While we are there I expect you to sit in the cart and play with your doll until we are done.”  Or whatever you want them to do is what you tell them.  Tell them what not to do, “You will not scream and yell or kick at the grocery store.  You will not throw things.  People at the store do not like that kind of behavior.”
  4. Ask for the buy in: Once you have told the child how you want them to behave at the store and how not to behave at the store you will need to ask them questions and get them to agree to what you said. “So when we go to the store will you yell and scream?  The child should answer no or shake their head.  “When we are at the store will you sit quietly in the cart and play with your doll?”  Again, the child should answer and say, yes.  Making your expectations clear and then getting the child to agree to those expectation before each and every trip to the store or wherever the tantrums happen will reduce the occurrences of tantrums.  Don’t forget to do this every time before you go because on the times that you don’t your child will most likely go back to the tantrum behavior.
  5. Pin down triggers: Many times what triggers a tantrum will be pretty obvious.  Every time your child asks for candy or a toy and is told no, they throw themselves on the floor and throw a fit.  This is pretty clear as to what the trigger is.  The child is angry that they are not getting what they want.  To avoid this try to let the child know ahead of time what they will be allowed to have.  “Okay Johnny, we are going to the grocery store and when we get to the check out you will be allowed to pick out 1 small candy bar of any flavor you would like.  This is all that you may have at the store.”  Letting the child know ahead of time what they will be allowed to have will short circuit their pleading for other stuff throughout the store because they have been told that they will only be allowed to have 1 candy bar at the end of the shopping trip.  Be firm on this!  Do not give in or the child will not take you seriously.
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