You’re in line at Target, five customers deep. Suddenly, your kid spots a checkout lane toy that she just has to have, and she’s relentless — please, mommy, pleaseeeeeee! It just gets louder and louder each time you respond, “No, honey, we don’t need that.” “But I want it, I do need that,” she screams. Yeah, we’ve been there too and it’s awful. All of the sudden, a trip for necessities turns into a lesson in parenting. Everyone around you is staring, listening and waiting to find out if you are going to be the overindulgent mom who gives in to quiet her child, or the not-so-nice mommy who probably never buys her kids anything at all. You go with the latter, feeling terrible that your daughter’s in hysterical tears, strangers think you’re neglectful or annoying, and you just feel defeated. So what can you do to stop these all-around bad feelings?
First things first: Temper tantrums happen, especially in children who are 1 to 4 years old. But experts at WebMD say there are a few ways to control temper tantrums before they start: Keep a routine schedule and try to steer clear of situations when you know your child is likely to melt down. Keeping your routine as, well, routine as possible is key. When that can’t happen, give your kid a 5-minute heads-up before you introduce them to something new.
Talk to your child. Start off the day by talking about what your child is going to do that day so she’s prepared ahead of time. Give your child some control. Let her make choices about what she wants to eat for lunch, what book you’re going to read, or what toy she’s going to bring in the car. Do yourself (and her) a favor and limit choices to two options. Pick your battles. No one, child or adult, likes to be nitpicked for every little thing, so before you get into it with your kid, think about the consequences. Things that keep her safe are important, but something like what color socks she’s wearing — maybe not so much.