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Strategies for Dealing with a Public Toddler Meltdown

February 07, 2017

Strategies for Dealing with a Public Toddler Meltdown

We’ve all seen the public toddler meltdown, sympathizing with the tired parents trying to calm their children as they are crying their hearts out in the middle of Aisle 4. When your children enter their toddler years, you start to gain an even deeper appreciation for the public meltdown experience. Here are some tips to help deal with these situations and prevent them from escalating.

Do Not Acknowledge the Meltdown

When your child is having a tantrum, often reasoning with them will not have any effect on calming your child. Trying to reason with a child in this state will not do anyone any good – and in fact, could propel the tantrum further. Doctors suggest this is because when a child is experiencing a tantrum, the part of their brain that handles reasoning is not engaged; the tantrum is emotional, taking over decisions and judgements. In this instance, one option to try to calm your child down is to not acknowledge the meltdown. Ignoring your child’s outburst may be difficult and result in public stares, but it could be your most effective strategy.

Distract Your Child

When your child is having a meltdown over something short-lived, like not buying the shiny toy at the store, or not buying the colorful box of cereal at the supermarket, creating a diversion could help extinguish a meltdown in development. Children have short attention spans, which makes this strategy effective. If you carry toys in your purse, this would be the time to pull them out! If you don’t have any tricks up your sleeve, change the subject with something equally exciting to your child – perhaps talking about your next activity for the day, or talking about the dessert you will have after dinner tonight, etc.

Offer Food, Drinks, Blanket

Two of the most common triggers for toddler meltdowns are being hungry or being tired. It is likely that every parent has experienced recurring meltdowns when your activities have prevented your child from having their lunch or naptime on their normal schedule. Try to stick to your daily schedule as much as possible to prevent these meltdowns. And if you know you are going to be out longer than usual, make sure to come equipped with snacks and a cozy stroller blanket.

Remain Calm, Offer Firm Hugs and Support

Sometimes all your child needs is a nice firm hug. Though it may not feel like the most obvious choice when your child is having a meltdown in the produce section, this feeling of safety and security and reconnecting with you could help calm them down, out of their escalating meltdown.


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