How to Prevent Tantrums in Public

How to Prevent Tantrums in Public
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Written by Gladys González

Last update: 27 December, 2022

You’re out in public and your child begins to have a tantrum. You feel like all eyes are on you. The first thing you feel is embarrassment. You might even begin to question what you’re doing wrong as a parent. Don’t lose hope. Read the wonderful tips below on how to prevent tantrums in public.

Motherhood is full of marvelous moments. But there are also times that aren’t so great. For example, when our children want something they can’t have, especially when we’re in public. When that happens, our little ones are prone to create a scene that makes us uncomfortable, annoyed and frustrated… to say the least.

Sometimes it seems like our children are competing for the “tantrum of the year” award. And let’s admit, sometimes we lose control. Don’t feel bad about these situations! It’s normal for this kind of behavior to appear on occasion.

And fortunately, there are several tricks you can employ to avoid a spectacle. Don’t give in when your child starts crying. Yes, our role as mothers is to be there to help them. But part of that means teaching them that they can’t always get their way. 

Tips to prevent tantrums in public

Below is some good advice that you can apply in order to say goodbye to those awkward tantrums in public:

  • Make sure that your child has taken care of all of his or her needs before leaving the house. It’s always a good idea to organize your plans in such a way that allows your child to eat at a decent hour and take a nap at the usual time.  
  • Establishing a daily routine is key to keeping your child from becoming irritable. When you leave the house and break away from your child’s usual eating or napping schedules, he will likely become tired and short-fused in return.
  • Plan ahead and prepare your child properly. If you are going to the bank or some other place that is boring for a child, bring along a toy or game. If you are going somewhere warm, bring a cooler with fruits and snacks. This will help to keep you little one calm.
  • Be sure to clearly communicate to your son or daughter the things you are going to do together. Children are logical. If you tell your child that you are going to the bakery, he will logically conclude that he is going to get a donut.
  • In order to avoid conflicts, it’s best to explain just what it is you plan to buy. Establish clear limits about what choices your child can make. If you’re going to buy cereal, you can tell your child she can choose what cereal she wants.
Learn to recognize your child’s own limits. This information will help take on challenging situations the best way possible for both you and your child.

You need to know your child’s own limits 

girl clinging to dad's leg

Below are several more tips to avoid situations that may provoke those unwanted tantrums while you are out:

  • Tell you child what places you are going to visit, in what order, and how long you are going to take. This is an excellent strategy that will give your child the information he needs to manage his expectations.
  • Speak sincerely about the activities you will be doing while you are out. This will help your child prepare mentally for what’s to come.
mom wanting to prevent tantrums from her boy
  • Detect possible tantrums and be proactive. A thousand things go through a child’s head when we tell them the word “no.” The best way to deal with a conflict is to prevent it.
  • Take a minute to plan ahead before taking your child to her favorite place. For example, you are in the park and it’s almost time to go. You can call your child and tell her that she has 10 more minutes to play. This will let her know that you are taking her enjoyment into consideration. It will also allow your little one to process and prepare for the moment when you need to leave.
  • Another option is to redirect your child’s attention. Suppose your little one wants candy and can’t have it. You see his face getting ready to cry. Distract him by telling him it’s time to take the dog for a walk. Try to make this seem like a fun opportunity. Distract and conquer.

Choose your battles. Sometimes it’s okay to ease up. Other times, you really need to say no. Every situation is different and it’s up to you to choose the correct strategy and stance.

Once you have said NO, then it’s very important to stand your ground. If you change your mind in the middle of your child’s tantrum, you will be sending the wrong message. Your child will understand that his behavior worked to get his way. As a result, he will be motivated to have even more tantrums in the future.

Don’t change your mind once you’ve already said NO.

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.

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