There are few things more challenging for a mom to deal with than their child having a tantrum in public.

It is just one of those things that marks your memories and your motherhood for good -especially if your little one goes all in.

We all have these stories to tell in safe spaces. Like the one where your three year old kicked your glasses off of your face in the grocery store simply because you were trying to put him into the cart.


Girl, we have all been there. Or close to there.

And, it’s fine.

A public toddler tantrum doesn’t make you a good mom or a bad mom, it just makes you a mom.

Because truly, the toddler tantrum is less about you and more about your toddler.

Now, how you react is about you.

If you let the toddler tantrum turn you into a screaming, yelling, sweaty mess who is dragging her toddler from the store while looking like more of a monster than your toddler did five minutes ago, that part is on you.

We don’t want that for you.

Here are some things to help you face that evil and win.

The Public Toddler Tantrum: How to Survive

The Toddler Tantrum: How to Deal with a Public Tantrum

Plan Ahead

What we all know about toddlers and little people is that they are super sensitive to all manner of physical things. They need to be well rested and fed and not overwhelmed by sounds and sights and emotions. If they are, they might be slightly more amenable to a trip to Target after nap time. The thing about them that matters most though is that they are wildly predictable. Rare is the time when a mom is truly shocked by a public tantrum. We feel them coming, we see them brewing, and we almost always have the power to avoid the major blowup. That doesn’t mean we will or can -sometimes, we just have to get grocery shopping done at nap time. But for those other times, plan your outings to correspond with baby’s happy times.

Learn to Look for Cues

And then respond to them appropriately. Most kids don’t go from 0 to 60 on the tantrum scale. They aren’t super happy one moment and then kicking your glasses off of your face the next. They have to work up to it. Which means you have a little time in there to encourage a change. Look for signs that your child is reaching his limit and then alter your activities accordingly if possible. You can’t always avoid a tantrum, but you can always anticipate them and tailor your response and behavior accordingly.

Maintain High Expectations

If you teach your child what appropriate in public behavior is and then expect him to do it, he is much more likely to meet your expectations. If you never tell your child that kicking your glasses off your face is an absolutely unacceptable behavior, he will probably continue to do it as he sees fit. Show them what is appropriate and then require them to behave as such. They may not be successful every time, but they will learn your expectations.

Be Consistent

And keep your cool. The last thing your toddler needs is you kicking his glasses off of his face when you lose your crap in the Target parking lot because he lost his crap in the Target checkout line. No one benefits from this insane behavior. Instead, tell your child no, in a calm voice, continue to tell them no as they misbehave, place them kindly in the car when you exit the establishment (since, if your child is kicking people in the face, now is a good time to vacate the premises) while continuing to use your calm voice. Don’t yell, don’t scream, don’t beg, don’t bribe. Easier said than done, but totally necessary.

Pick Your Battles

There is a time and a place. And, honestly, sometimes, you just have to come in hard with the snacks and the stickers and the drinks and the iPad. Nothing to feel guilty about. You have to pick your battles and sometimes winning a battle means ensuring your child’s needs are fully met (and by that we really just mean bribe them, just don’t call it that).

Looking to connect with other moms in the trenches, the app is a great place to start.

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