Children learn self-control around the age of 3, tantrums in toddlers are inevitable. Nonetheless, following these steps can increase the likelihood of avoiding tantrums.
To avoid toddler tantrums, you must connect and be in tune. Model calm and positive behavior, as it begins with you….
First, let’s clarify what is a tantrum and what is a meltdown.
A tantrum usually allows toddlers to have some control of the situation. Have you ever witnessed a child stop crying, hitting, screaming, kicking as soon as the toddler gets the desired item? Cookie, car, ball or whatever item that caused the crying, hitting, screaming and kicking in the first place? I have. On the other hand, a meltdown is more uncontrollable. It is an overwhelming feeling of emotion due to a specific situation like pain or even fear. It usually evokes the fight or flight attack.
Regardless if it is a tantrum or a meltdown, there are some simple tips you can take to avoid these toddler tantrums in the grocery store. Take note your child is growing fast, and I am sure you have heard the phrase “infant brains are like a sponge. They are ready to soak up any information.” Well, it’s true. They are hungry for information, so take advantage of the opportunities around you to connect with your child and avoid tantrums and meltdowns, and here is how: Try planning your grocery store trip, provide expectations, make your child an active participant, and make your next grocery trip a positive one.
- Plan your grocery store trip: Make sure your child is not hungry, or tired. Be sure to remove any potential triggers that can create the perfect tantrum. The grocery store should be planned in a time your child is awake, alert, and ready for the outing.
- Provide expectations: Make eye contact with your child, and tell them about the trip. You can say something like: “we are going to the grocery store to buy you some fruits and vegetables, so you can grow healthy and strong. At the grocery store, you will get to choose your favorite snack.” In this example, you are informing your child the expectations and reward that comes with following expectations to avoid tantrums like kicking, screaming, and even hitting.
- Make your child an active participant: Have you ever stopped and looked at the world with your child’s eyes? What does he see? What does he hear? And, what does he feel? If your child is expected to sit strapped in the grocery cart, and do nothing, then the expectation is too high. Instead of telling them to do nothing, make your child an active participant by buying groceries together. You can do some of the following tips:
- Ask Questions: “What is your favorite snack?”
- Validate their opinions, even if they are just babbling. “I see you are happy.”
- Explore options: “Should we buy red apples or green apples?”
- Label the items around you. Name the fruit, name the color of the items, and name the category of the fruits and vegetables.
The idea is to connect with your child to avoid tantrums at the grocery store. You are building a positive relationship and teaching your child what it’s like to be part of your family. Be silly, be you. When you connect at the grocery store with your child, you are targeting various types of learning. You are exposing your child to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic styles of learning. By the way, if you have a picky eater, this is a good start to teach children to learn to appreciate all sorts of foods, but is another blog topic for sure. For now, back to avoiding tantrums at the grocery store. If you follow the tips above, you are creating positive neuro pathways in the toddler’s brain from a negative uninvolved and stressful relationship with tantrums, to a positive fun trip with the caregiver. Be sure to always conclude with positive verbal phrases and validate what your child did right. Do your best to talk and listen from beginning to end.
But, I must admit the most important takeaway from this blog is that parenting is tough. If you have ever traveled in an airplane, the flight attendant always says if you are traveling with an infant, and in the event of an emergency, the oxygen masks will fall from above. They kindly urge you to be sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then on your child. In order for you to not feel stressed with the ongoing parenting demands, with tantrums and meltdowns, I recommend you prioritize taking time to take good care of yourself first, then your child. Nonetheless, if you are experiencing extreme tantrums and meltdowns, you should consider seeking professional help.
I Love You Rituals (2000) by Becky A. Bailey Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Rituals-Becky-Bailey/dp/0688161170/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=I+love+you+rituals&qid=1630635216&sr=8-1
Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide (The Positive Parent Series) (2016) by Rebecca Eanes & Laura Dr. Markham Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Positive-Parenting-Essential-Guide-Parent/dp/0143109227/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=Positive+Parenting&qid=1630635335&sr=8-6
Whole Brain Child (2012) by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist, & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., a psychotherapist. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Whole-Brain-Child-Revolutionary-Strategies-Developing/dp/0553386697/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=whole+brain+child&qid=1630635402&sr=8-3
Disclaimer: These links are not sponsored, and no compensation is provided for such recommendations.