Preventing Embarrassing Public Tantrums

Published by Vision Editorial Team | vision.org.au
Child throwing tantrum in shopping trolley

Robbo and Becci caught up with Brett and Kate Ryan, from Focus on the Family Australia, to get some strategies for dealing with tantrums…

What do we do when our children just respond in a way that we aren’t happy with? Brett says this is especially hard to deal with when we are in public. “We tend to worry about what other parents are thinking, and we feel embarrassed. But there are strategies that can help. We need to set a standard very early on, or we will have more problems later.”

Kate says that she always discussed what she expected from her kids with them before they went out in public. “I told them that if they threw a tantrum we would leave, and they would be disciplined at home. I did what I said what I was going to do. You have to follow through. Brett and I were really determined that we would do what said we would do.”

Brett agrees. “We didn’t make idle threats, we followed through.”

One of the great strategies that Brett and Kate recommend at home, is to take your child outside if you can. “Tantrums are frustration that children feel when they can’t verablise what they’re trying to say to you,” Kate says. “If you can, give them a little bit of space. Nature is a really good circuit breaker.”

Brett and Kate Ryan
Brett and Kate Ryan

Brett continues, “They need to regulate themselves. You reacting makes them react. Determine what you’re going to do beforehand in public, and pre-warn your child. Give them a narrative, and get them thinking through their actions before they get too worked up.”

Kate believes the best thing you can do is calm the situation, so nobody says things that they can’t take back. “You cannot have a rational conversation with anybody who is in a distressed state.”

Brett says that you have to listen, and reinforce that you understand. “As parents, we have to change the script and shape how our children should communicate. We need to teach them healthy ways to manage their feelings.”

Kate points out that adults have tantrums too. “We as parents need to be very careful how we’re responding and reacting in our relationships. We are always role modelling for our children.”

Brett and Kate agree that talking about tantrums with your child, and taking advantage of teachable moments is so important.

“One of the most effective strategies we can teach our children is how to manage their frustration in a healthy way”, says Brett.

For more ideas and tips on dealing with toddler tantrums, listen to the rest of Brett and Kate’s chat below.

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