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Learning to Manage Difficult Behavior

One day, you have a sweet and smiling baby. The next? A terrorizing toddler that you can’t control. You’ll usually discover this while you’re in the supermarket doing as you always have done though suddenly your child morphs into this crazy little person shrieking loud enough for everyone in the entire store to hear.

Between the ages of 2 and 5, tantrums are very normal. Children at this age are still developing mentally so there’s no reasoning with them. That’s not to say that you must endure this behavior until this phase ends. But you can take some steps to handle it.

Don’t freak out

It’s very embarrassing when you’re out in public and your child throws himself on the floor and goes into a full-on tantrum. But most people you’ll encounter have been there before, and if you look around, you’ll see many sympathetic faces. If you’re lucky enough to be at home when a tantrum occurs, it’s less embarrassing but still just as stressful. The key is to remain calm at all times. Your child will come to calm down himself thanks to your air of calmness.

Get out of dodge

Okay, so you’re at the store and the tantrum happens. Keep calm and tell your child that this is not the way we act when we’re in public and that if she can’t calm down, you will have to leave. Then, make good on it. Sure, it’s no fun to ditch a cart of groceries without buying them, especially when you need food, but it likely will not happen more than once beyond this as your child will learn you mean business.

Don’t give in

You’re on line waiting to pay when your child flips about a cookie or candy. It’s really tempting to let her have it, but don’t. It only teaches her that this behavior will get her the things she wants and she’ll just keep acting out. Stay strong!

Don’t lecture in the moment

While you should absolutely talk to your child about the bad behavior, doing it mid-tantrum will just fall on deaf ears. Wait until she’s calm later on and get to the root of it so you can find out how to help her.

Be prepared

When you go out with your child, is it during nap or snack time? If so, try to plan your outings around those events. So if your child gets sleepy in the afternoon, run all your errands in the morning. This way, she won’t get cranky. Feed snacks before you go and always keep a stash of shelf-stable individually-packed snacks in your bag just in case. Same with juice boxes too. You’ll be so happy you have them when a tantrum is just on the verge.

Help them burn off energy

Sometimes the bad behaviors from our kids stem from them just having a ton of energy to work off. Take them to play at the park or in your yard. If you can, go swimming together too. It will make them happy to spend time with you and it will exhaust them so come bedtime, your kids will sleep well very quickly.

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