How do you manage tantrums, especially if it is coming from your child?

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is managing your toddler’s tantrum in public.

Most times, when kids don’t get their way, they throw tantrums.

If this happens at home at least, you can walk away or simply ignore the episode.

But when the tables turn- you’re in public- may be a mall, under the scornful gaze of strangers; and your child insists on having an ice-cream cone and screams as though he or she has been beaten, you will become so embarrassed.

Scroll down to read our tested and trusted tips to help you manage tantrums in public

Have A Pre-game Plan

Before you step out of the house with your toddler, you need to be prepared and have only reasonable expectations.

Really, no matter what excuses you try to come up with, no toddler will spend four hours with you at the popular Balogun in Lagos and not throw a tantrum.

So, before you both leave the house, make sure you two aren’t leaving the house near his or her naptime and is also well-fed. Don’t forget to go with toys and snacks; anything to keep your toddler happy and engaged.

Also, give clear expectations about how you want your toddler to behave in public.

Reiterate it to your toddler like an anthem before you go, as you go, and when you arrive at your destination.


This is an effective pre-tantrum strategy. As soon as you sense a tantrum coming, use your ultimate Mum super-power of distraction and deflection.

The truth is: no matter how well you prepare, your toddler might just lose it somewhere out there at some point, unannounced.

This doesn’t mean you’re bad at parenting, no, your kid is only being a kid.

So, suck in a breath and act. Take to drama- ask your toddler to help you search for something ‘important,’ like your mobile phone or car keys.

Ask an odd question that makes them laugh; glide from one drama to the next, until your toddler forgets he/she was about to throw a tantrum or two.

Speaking of distraction, you will love this  post on effective ways to stop your child from disturbing you while driving

Don’t Lose Calm

If a tantrum occurs, the last thing you want to do is scream “shut up” in your kid’s face in an attempt to get them to be calm.

In fact, this might just make things worse. Tactics that will fail you include; public humiliation, threats, public punishment, yelling, begging and crying louder than them.

Set Expectations Before Heading Out.

It’s highly important to dictate clear expectations before you leave the house. “We’re going to the supermarket to buy bread, toothpaste, and milk. We are not going to buy pizza or ice-cream today.” Have your child repeat the information back to you, and keep discussing it. “We are not going to buy ice-cream. “I am not going to scream or cry”. “Are you going to scream or cry?”

Lots of repetition will help make your point and will have your toddler repeat the words. It will also help register it in the child’s subconscious.

Involve Them

Boredom can also inspire a tantrum.

If you’re shopping or running an errand, keep your toddler’s mind and body busy so he or she won’t have time to be bored- when little hands are busy, little minds get less upset.

Let your child help you pick out the groceries, canned goods, cookies, etc. at intervals, throw in phrases like, “I want you to help mummy get this”, “pick that or finish shopping”. This is a great way to manage tantrums.

Attempt Negotiations

What this simply means is that you’re not really negotiating. Instead, you’re performing a kind of children’s mind trick.

Put up a couple of limited choices to make her feel she doesn’t have a choice at all.

For instance: going to the car to calm down versus staying in the store to calm down, but either way, the end result is they need to calm down.

Do you get?

And if perchance, your toddler is strongwilled, here’s how you can manage his or her behaviour

Remain Calm And In Control And Manage Tantrums

Chances are: you want to scream louder than that child, but train yourself to always keep your voice calm when handling tantrums. A soft solemn voice will save you more than it won’t. You can throw in phrases like: “I know you’re upset, but it’s time to calm down.” Stay in control and if your toddler doesn’t calm down, take him or her out of the vicinity where the tantrum occurred.

This is how you can correct your child without yelling

If your toddler won’t walk, yank him or her onto your shoulders and move away. Once there, hold him, look him in the eyes and say, “I know you are out of control. I am in control and I need you to hear what I’m saying.

“I understand you are really upset because you want ice-cream (or whatever else prompted the tantrum), but here are the reasons why you can’t have it.

“We can talk about it more once you calm down. But until you do, we are going to sit here, doing nothing.” It is not ‘oyinbo stuff. Eventually, your toddler will get bored sitting there and keep quiet”.

Ignore All Judgmental Stares

You prepped, you planned — and somehow it didn’t work outright.

Now you’re stranded in the middle of a store with a screaming child, a cart full of groceries, and a sea of unfriendly eyes fixated on you and your child dramatizing.

What do you do?

The first call, remember that strangers are just that — strangers. They don’t know you and vice-versa, they don’t really matter.

So, toss them out of your mind, and concentrate on your toddler.  It helps too to remember that although we often think everyone is watching us when in reality, most people are actually far too self-centered and are occupied thinking about themselves to focus on anyone else; even a child throwing a tantrum.  Also, some of those parents have been in your shoes before and totally understand what a tantrum is.

Be Consistent With How You Manage Tantrums

If you are used to handling tantrums effectively at home — I mean, ignoring them and not giving in — they’ll eventually lessen when you’re in public. There no doubt will be days when the urge to give in and let your toddler have his or her way will be so overwhelming but having it at the back of your mind that you will only be encouraging the behaviour should do well to have you not compromise.


Kids get unhappy and they express it as they deem feat but tantrums become an issue when parents give in to the child too soon/too often; teaching the child that a tantrum is an effective way to get what they want, so watch it! Do what you need to do, get your child out to the car or back home, and let your toddler know how disappointed you are.

Also, never respond to a tantrum with anger or raised voices. Instead, deflect with humor, stay optimistic and empathetic, and negotiate when you need to downplay the tantrum in public.