It was a textbook public tantrum: a pile of mashed potatoes on the floor, tears streaming down our son's face, and screams pouring from his mouth. Meanwhile, nearby patrons shook their heads at the couple that couldn't keep their child in check.
That's how my family spent a "quiet" family dinner recently. Our son continued his tantrum, and we took a detour to the Meltdown Zone.
Our solution? I took our son outside to walk it off.
The family that recently got booted off a flight when their toddler threw a tantrum couldn't voluntarily remove themselves from the situation. They paid for their child's tantrum with a costly inconvenience. However, there are ways to try and deal with those inescapable moments when your pride and joy morphs into an uncontrollable, inconsolable mess.
Play a game, sing a song, ask them to dance. When they're young, they're easy to redirect. Enjoy it because it won't last.
2. Be Silly
This might be uncomfortable for some parents to do in public but so is listening to your child unleash a bloodcurdling scream in the food court. Talk in a funny voice, do a cartwheel, or act out your favorite cartoon character. Do whatever puts your child in his/her happy place.
3. Ignore It
This may not be feasible everywhere, but it will work in some places. Kids thrive on the attention they get from a tantrum, so don't give it to them.
4. Grab Your Go-To Toy or Snack
Always keep a favorite toy, book, or snack in your bag or pocket for this reason.
5. Break the Rules
Forget that rule you have of not watching videos. Fire up your smartphone and turn on a show that will soothe your child.
6. Pre-Emptive Strike
If you know something is coming up — an outing or a trip — that might upset your child or disrupt their schedule, prepare them for it. It might not prevent a tantrum but it can't hurt.
7. Keep Your Cool
When you lose it, you're only reinforcing your child's behavior. And, remember to breathe. Often.
When your child's voice rises, lower yours. Talk in a soft voice and make them quiet down to listen to you.
The last resort is to remove yourself and your child from the situation, if you can.
One last thing — the people staring at you and your screaming child probably aren't judging you. They're empathizing with you. Every parent has been there. Now, it's your turn.