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  • Try This 4-Step Method to Stop Your Child's Tantrum in Public

    Dodge those stares and do these four steps to calm down your child.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Try This 4-Step Method to Stop Your Child's Tantrum in Public
PHOTO BY @maroke/iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Imagine being inside a restaurant with your toddler when something suddenly triggers her to bawl loudly, drop to the floor, and angrily kick her shoes off. As people begin to stare, you try all tricks in the book to calm her down, but she's just getting more upset by the minute. After more attempts at cajoling, you finally decide to walk away with your child, unsure whether to apologize to the strangers quietly judging you or try to put on your best "I don't really care" face. Either way, lunch is officially over.

    "It’s hard to be out in public when your child’s having a meltdown. You might worry that others are judging you,” says Dr. Wendela Whitcomb Marsh, a board-certified behavior analyst. “But remember, the meltdown is happening to your child, not to you. It’s usually out of their control, and they’re not doing it on purpose to ruin your outing."

    If you've ever been in such a situation, you know that nothing is as rattling to a parent as the sound of a screaming child (except a medical emergency, of course). Even though we know that toddlers are merely testing their limits (and their parents' patience) when they do this, it's easy to forget it when you're at wits' end.

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    Marsh says that when your child is having a meltdown, removing him from the situation is an effective way to quiet him down. So, in the example given above, stepping out to catch some fresh air would actually be good.  


    However, if that is not an option, Marsh suggests doing the 4S: Stop, Squat, Shhh, and Sing.

    One way to tame your your child's tantrum (hopefully)

    Stop. And pay attention. Try to find out what exactly is going on and what is causing all the screaming. Is he in pain? Maybe he's sleepy? Get to the source.

    Squat. Going down to your child's eye level is a trick many parents, even Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, utilize. Doing this catches the child's attention and encourages communication, which is what you want your child to do with you.

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    Shhh. Signal your child to calm down by smiling, slowing down, and speaking in a low voice. He might just take your cue, or stop the wailing so he could hear what you're trying to say. Either way, it's win-win.

    Sing. If talking quietly still doesn't work, try singing a lullaby or your child's favorite slow song. Hopefully, the familiar tune will comfort and soothe him to slumberland.

    Marsh continues, "If you can’t leave, such as on an airplane, hold your child in a comforting position with your mouth near their ear and whisper-sing, slowly and calmly, while moving in whatever way they find comforting. They need to feel loved and comforted, not squashed or smooshed.

    "The other people on the airplane have heard a child cry before, and they will survive."

    Let us know if the 4S works for you! 

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