Ah, the terrible twos. Okay, so it’s (usually) not as bad as you thought it would be. But, once in a while, your mini Dr. Jekyll makes his grand appearance — in public. The mid-mall meltdown, the “cookie now” freak out when you’re having dinner out and the “carry me mommy” cry-fest eventually strike even the best parent-child pairs. When your tot’s whaling, all eyes are on you and that sinking, “Do they all think I’m the world’s worst parent?” feeling starts setting in — DON’T panic! Every mom has been right where you are. Before you break into tears too, check out five things you can do to tame the dreaded public toddler tantrum.

Grocery shopping mother son

1. Pick up and go. This is by far the easiest solution to a public tantrum. If your toddler has suddenly decided he’s ready to go home and has hurled himself onto the floor of the chic new cafe, you may wonder if you (and everyone around you) can hold out a few minutes while you finish up your meal. But there’s no talking your kiddo down. Sometimes you have to make a trade-off, and in this case, it’s your yummy lunch out. Put your food down, pack it up or do whatever it takes to free up your hands. Pick up your little one and carry her out before the meltdown gets any worse.

Angry little girl wearing bunny ears toddler tantrum

2. Pay attention to the right thing. There’ll be times when your young child throws a tantrum with one sole purpose: to get your attention. You’re chatting up another mom in line at the coffee house, and your child’s mad that they’re not the center of your world at that moment. The key here is to ignore the TANTRUM, not your CHILD. They get your attention, without mention of the crying, screaming and thrashing.

3. Be aware of what sets your toddler off and prepare. You know that your child absolutely, positively needs a snack every day at 10am on the dot. So when you realize her mid-morning snack time conflicts with a doctor’s appointment, you know there’s a 100 percent chance that your toddler will melt down if she doesn’t eat on cue. Stop the tantrum before it starts, or as it’s beginning, by bringing along her favorite snack. In general, pay attention to what scenarios set off your toddler and prep ahead of time.

toddler tantrum mom daughter

4. Ignore judgy people around you. You know who we’re talking about — THAT mom who acts like her kid has never, ever had a public tantrum. Well, he has. No one’s perfect, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to handle each and every situation with the grace of June Cleaver. After all, sometimes we all Betty Draper out. Forget the judgmental eyes and focus on your child. Yeah, she’s screaming. But, she’s a toddler. It happens. Don’t let anyone’s horrified stares at the playground or grocery store make this moment even worse for you. They don’t know your child, and again, it’s pretty normal for toddlers to throw their weight around (literally… on the ground) tantrum-style.

5. Deal out an immediate lesson on respect. Real scenario: Your child just flew off the handle in the middle of Target. Redirection is a far-off fairy tale during this meltdown moment, and your calm (but firmly gentle) words are only making matters worse. Exercise tip number one and pick her up, leave your cart and head to the car. If you strap her into her car seat and suddenly she’s calm, take time right then to talk about what just happened. There’s no need for a 20-minute lecture here (anyway, she’ll lose focus after the first few minutes). But, you should get to the point of the matter — it’s not okay to throw, hit or scream in public — or anywhere for that matter. Have this short convo now, before you do anything else. Waiting until you get home makes the public meltdown a distant memory that she may not connect with your focused words.

What’s your secret tantrum-fighting trick? Share your ideas and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)