How do I Handle Toddler Tantrums in Public?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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Parents of toddlers often know what to do when their kids throw a tantrum. Most choose to ignore it, as it is a normal part of the terrible twos. When the toddler tantrums are in public, though, they can't always be ignored. There are several ways to handle public toddler temper tantrums.

As soon as a tantrum begins to show its evil head, give your toddler a stern warning. Let her know that if she has a tantrum, you are going to leave. Be prepared to act on that warning if she throws a full-blown tantrum, as she will never quit if you don't follow through. If the tantrum continues, make a hasty exit.

When toddler tantrums occur at a restaurant and leaving isn't an option, take your toddler to the car. Let him know that his behavior is unacceptable and he is going to stay there until he calms down. Buckle him in the car seat and stand outside the car until his tantrum ceases. When he has calmed down, calmly explain to him that the way he behaved was unacceptable and invite him to try again.

Toddler tantrums often occur during play dates or at friends' houses. Attempt to put your toddler on a time out. If this doesn't work and the tantrums persist, apologize to the host and leave. Children will never learn to control their outbursts if they are allowed to stay and continue playing.


It is always best to try to prevent toddler tantrums in public. When taking your toddler out in public, plan ahead for the trip. If you are going grocery shopping, bring a couple of toys to entertain him. When going out to eat, bring snacks to curb his appetite until the food arrives. Many toddler tantrums are caused by hunger or boredom.

Plan your outings around nap and bedtime to avoid the toddler tantrums. A toddler is unable to control her outbursts when she is tired. If you are going grocery shopping, plan it for the early morning or the afternoon, right after nap time. Children are the most cooperative after a good rest.

Temper tantrums are a normal part of being a toddler. When the tantrums occur in public, some people may try to put the blame on the parent. Just shrug it off, as people without children may not understand. Somewhere close by, though, there is likely to be another parent who has been in your shoes and understands that it's all part of the terrible twos.


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Post 1

I really like the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block for dealing with toddlers and tantrums. It talks about how to short-circuit a tantrum by connecting with your child and respecting his or her feelings.

It's awkward to do in public because the book advises talking to your child in "toddlerese" as you reflect back her feelings. "You want a cookie! You really want a cookie! You say cookie now!" But I found that it was pretty effective once my child was starting to become verbal.

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