Avoiding Public Meltdowns with a Toddler

Today is the day that things have to go right.

You have to be get out of the house and do some errands but your toddler has been…difficult…in public as of late. You’re packing things up and watching her carefully, trying to figure out what to do to ensure that this absolutely vital trip out of the house happens. She has that look in her eye. Thy one she gets before she completely loses it. You know if you get her to the car now before she gets really upset, you’ll at least have a chance.

I just love a good public meltdown--hysterical screaming, snot strings, and kicking/flailing...

OK, wait no, I actually hate that.

Avoiding toddler tantrums is sort of like avoiding air or sunlight. But like sunscreen, we can at least try to be prepared against the worst effects of them with this little list. 

You’ve got your keys.

You’ve got the bag.

You’ve got the baby.

And now you have your checklist for avoiding public meltdowns. I like to call this little list: The five ‘S’s” of avoiding tantrums:

Snack

Exactly how many baggies of puffs, cheerios, and a whatever exciting and usually-not-allowed yummy snack do you have in that bag? Double it. Low blood-sugar is one of the biggest culprits behind unexplained tantrums and a growing toddlers' blood sugar can spike up and down quickly.

Try to include snacks that have a little fat and protein and not all carbohydrates, as these can contribute to sugar spikes. Bottom line though: If all they will eat is puffs, then just make sure you have several interesting varieties on hand.

Shiny

I am not an advocate of buying toys every time you go to a store to pacify your child. I am however, an advocate of thinking ahead and buying small and inexpensive fun toys to bring out for strategic situations. I call them “Shiny” because they will quickly capture a little one’s attention and hold it for a few minutes. I keep these toys on lockdown and pack them for things like doctor’s appointments, long car trips, or any situation where I need my kiddos to happily play on their own for a just a few minutes while we are out of the house. A “shiny” should be brightly colored, an interesting or novel shape, and new to the child. Plush books are great as are crinkle books or books that make sounds! 

Sleep

This should probably come first in the list, but if I had put it there you probably would have written the list off because it’s the one you can’t really control. Who can control or predict the sleeping pattern of a toddler? Not this gal. But while you can’t control that, it bears mentioning that one thing you can control is when you do these errands. Try with all your might to time them at your toddlers best and most cheerful time of day, when they are well rested. This will make ALL the difference.

Sing

This one is a bit silly but my personal testimony is this: Whenever my kids are fighting in the car or being whiny or there is just general chaos building when we are away from home, I start singing “The Wheels on the Bus” quietly to myself. After a few seconds I hear my two year old babbling his version of the words along with me and then my five year old joins in too. By the time we are done, everyone is eerily calm. I don’t know if this will actually work for anyone but us but it has worked so often that I’m wondering if there is a secret to it. Try it! What can it hurt?  

Stop

Probably the most important thing is to realize is that at some point in this day, you might need to just stop, park the cart or the car, pick up your baby, and take a five-minute cuddle break to reconnect and look at each other. Sometimes, when we are stressed or over stimulated, it helps bring us back to center just to walk about from the situation for a minute. For a toddler, you can create this relief by picking them up when they begin to show signs of wear and giving those feelings your full attention. This little five minute gift of validation, even for little ones, can make a huge difference in releasing pent up frustration. So, as you plan your day, try to include some rest time like this as you go from place to place. 

With these tips in your corner, I hope your days are more peaceful and your errands drama free! Here’s to fewer meltdowns and more loving connections and still getting things checked off your list in the process! 

Lauren resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is a birth worker and an aspiring writer. In her spare time, she loves to work out and spend time perusing old and new bookstores.

 

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