Elizabeth Lyons, mother of five, has weathered the meltdown in public. She says retreat and distraction make for fine strategy.
Look for the humor. Tall order, but if you're up to the challenge, it is the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down. (Thank you, Mary Poppins.)
Elizabeth does not recommend negotiation, if only because losing in negotiations ti a toddler is pretty demoralizing and they get way too much pleasure out of it.
(Transcribed from interview)
Tantrum: How Should I Handle My Child’s Meltdown In The Store?
When your child has a meltdown in public there are the textbook approaches and then there are the approaches that I recommend.
So when your child is flailing on the floor of Target, you know you can’t control what your child is doing, that’s what it boils down to. But you can control how you react.
So yes, I recommend from a logistical standpoint that you maybe try to get out of the store. Pick your child up if you have to and walk out of the store.
It’s always very uncomfortable for everybody around when a woman is standing there trying to negotiate with the child for hours on and the child is 18-months-old and it’s like who is going to win this battle?
But what I have found the greatest success with for myself is how I handle the situation.
So a few of my tips in that area are, one, I keep my sense of humor about me at all times. Number two, I do not worry about what anyone around me may be thinking or saying.
I can feel the eyes of the women around me who either don’t yet have children or whose children are so old that they don’t remember or they are in denial that they ever had a child behave this way.
But their eyes are on me like, it’s uncomfortable and I just ignore it because it matters not in that moment.
Sometimes I sing to myself. Sometimes distraction works great for kids. I mean, it really, it doesn’t matter if they are 8 months old or 8 years old, distraction works great.
So with my older kids I’ll start using funny vocabulary.