Tantrums in Public: 9 Tips on How to Respond

Tantrums are something that can cause parents to lose their cool, but if they're in public, even more so. Here are some tips to help you deal with tantrums in public.
Tantrums in Public: 9 Tips on How to Respond

Last update: 20 January, 2021

Without a doubt, at some point we’ve been at the supermarket with our children or gone out for a walk and, for one reason or another, had to teal with tantrums in public.

Yes, this is a common occurrence with children and it’s something that’s normal and part of their development. Our little ones are growing up and emotions are something new for them. Since they don’t know how to express them in any other way, they appear in the form of tantrums. But I don’t have to tell you that – you’ve all experienced this firsthand.

Our attitude as parents is very important in the face of tantrums in public

This is a situation that often occurs, especially in children between 2 and 4 years old. When children are upset, they often express themselves by means of a tantrum. They throw themselves on the floor, scream, cry, kick, etc. Many times they get out of hand and we’re not able to reason with them or even comfort them.

Tantrums in Public: 9 Tips on How to Respond

This is completely normal and we shouldn’t worry. However, it’s clear that this is an uncomfortable situation and that, on many occasions, it causes us to lose our patience. But this is precisely what we can’t allow to happen: We must never lose patience.

It’s important that we remember that children are children and their way of expressing what they feel is through tantrums. Often, they don’t even know how to talk yet, much less put their frustration into words.

Our attitude as parents

When our children have tantrums in public, we parents have to stay close to them and show them that we understand them. We must always keep in mind that what’s important isn’t the tantrum the child’s having, but how we respond. What do we mean by this?

Every time a tantrum appears, we have the opportunity to teach our children to deal with the sensations they’re experiencing. If we just get angry and scold them for crying or screaming, we’re not addressing those emotions. Nor are we teaching them tools and resources that they can apply the next time they feel upset. This is what our little ones really need from us.

9 keys to knowing how to act out tantrums in public

When our little ones have tantrums in public, when the child wants something they can’t have, they’re prone to have an aggressive reaction. And it’s at that precise moment when we need to be sure not to act in the same way.

At that moment, if we get angry and shout like them, we’ll only be teaching them that this is the way to solve things. Because we’re their mirror. The tips below will help us get control of the situation and also improve the problem in the long run.

Stay calm

With children, it’s always important to react calmly, but during a tantrum it’s even more important. So, we’ll try not to get upset even if our child cries, screams, or kicks in a public place.

Act as if nothing has happened

Tantrums are nothing more than cries for attention and the children use this resource to get what they want, even if they’re not aware of this intentionality. Therefore, it’s imperative that we ignore this attitude in order to avoid this implicit form of blackmail.

As much as possible, and as long as it’s safe, leave them alone

It’s clear that we can follow this advice as long as the child’s in a safe place, otherwise we can’t do it. Besides, even if we leave them alone, we’ll still be watching them without them knowing. Tantrums are like a play, and if there’s no audience (us parents), they have no purpose. When the child realizes that they’re not getting their parents’ attention, they’ll calm down.

Take them to a quieter place

When we’re out in public and our child has a tantrum, the best thing to do is to take them to a quieter place so that they can calm down. Sometimes, moving the child to a different place helps them to calm down or to forget the reason for their anger.

Stand your ground when it comes to tantrums in public

We mustn’t give in to their demands, no matter how tired we are of their tantrums. If we do, we’ll be reaffirming their strategy and they’ll continue to repeat the same behavior.

Let them know that tantrums aren’t going to do them any good

If, despite having left them alone, your little one continues with the tantrum, we’ll tell them that we won’t talk to them until they calm down. After that, we’ll continue to ignore the tantrum until it stops. Don’t insist or give them the attention they’re looking for.

Listen to them, but only when they’re calm

If our child already knows how to talk, when the tantrum is over, we’ll talk to them so that they can explain to us the reason for their anger. This way, they’ll understand that they can express their anger and frustration in a better way. Not giving in doesn’t mean that we don’t listen to them or explain how they should act. We must always do this.

Tantrums in Public: 9 Tips on How to Respond

Don’t make a big deal of what’s happened

When your child is calm and able to reason, we have to encourage them to ask for forgiveness and explain that aggressive attitudes won’t get them anywhere. This is the way to put an end to tantrums, so that the child understands that, no matter how much they kick, they won’t get their way.

Remember to lead by example – whenever you lose your cool or make mistakes in front of your children, be sure to ask them for forgiveness.

Accept their apology

When your little one apologizes and is willing to ask for forgiveness, forgive them, support them, and forget about what happened.

As far as tantrums in public are concerned…

As we’ve seen, tantrums in public can happen more often than parents would like. But, if we follow these tips, we can get out of the complicated moment and, moreover, improve the situation in the long run as well.

One important thing to keep in mind is that prevention is an essential tool to avoid tantrums from happening. How? By establishing certain limits before leaving home or doing an activity.

If we go shopping, before leaving the house, make it clear what you’re going to buy and that we’re not going to allow certain behavior. Also, when possible, avoid taking your child out when they’re tired, hungry, etc. Above all, remember that patience and affection always work.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Freud, J. K. (2014). El reto de ser padres. B DE BOOKS.
  • Jové, R. (2011). Ni rabietas ni conflictos. Madrid: La esfera de los libros.
  • Pernasa, P. D., & de Luna, C. B. (2005). Las rabietas en la infancia: qué son y cómo aconsejar a los padres. Pediatría Atención Primaria, 7(25), 67-74.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.