A few guidelines to help prevent complete meltdown. This is especially helpful when you’re out and about, doing shopping or trying to enjoy a nice vanilla latte in a coffee shop.
Going out with your toddler doesn’t have to be a nightmare, for either of you. You just need to remember a few easy things, to ensure it’s actually a pleasant experience. And no, you don’t have to bribe them with new toys and treats to get them to behave!
I go to coffee shops, a lot. In fact when I sometimes ask my little one what he would like to do, he says he would like to go to a coffee shop. I don’t remember the last time he had a meltdown in one… I don’t think he ever has. His tantrums are few and far between, but he is only three so obviously it still happens. Here are my tactics I use to minimize these tantrums.
- Keep them fed – I know a lot of adults who get really unpleasant when they’re hungry, so it makes sense that a hungry baby, toddler or child is going to be cranky too. I take a lunch box where ever I go, I use this Yumbox I got on Amazon. It’s actually leak proof (DO NOT put it in the dishwasher, it’ll break this seal) so it’s great for all sorts. It’s also easy for little hands to open and close. Sandwiches, cheese, raisins, dried fruit, fresh fruit, crackers, ham slices and sweetcorn are just some of the snacks you could use.
- Keep them well rested – Again, tired adults make for right assholes, so your kid is allowed to be difficult if they’re tired. When we had to start phasing out naps in the day, it was a tough transition as he wasn’t really ready for it, but we had to so I had to endure the long weeks of an unhappy little guy. If you’re planning a day out, make sure you plan in a nap. If you’re planning on popping out to the shops, work it around their nap.
- Keep them entertained – I personally struggle with boredom quite a bit, so I naturally always made sure that I took toys everywhere I went, since he was born. The other mothers were always borrowing something to keep their little ones entertained, because everyone knew I was always prepared. Pick toys that are appropriate for the activity you’re doing. Smaller toys for table tops for a coffee shop, slightly bigger ones that can’t be easily lost if you’ll be doing lots of walking around. I have a stash of colouring pens and a book in the front zip of each of our bags.
- Patience – Kids are just kids. They’re easily distracted, get bored easily, they fuss and they can’t quite process their emotions. They require patience from us. Understand that they have needs and feelings and wants and most importantly, understand that they’re just little people and they’re entitled to these things. I do not easily allow people to force me into doing things I don’t want to, so I offer the same option to my toddler. And because I let him make a lot of his own decisions, I find he usually does things for me he doesn’t really want to like putting his toys down long enough to brush his teeth or helping tidy up.
- Give them choices – It’s important to let kids feel like they have a say. The attitude of kids need to just do what they’re told without complaint or question, is terribly dated and I personally think a very detrimental way of raising kids. I’ve seen the results of this type of parenting and it’s really no wonder this world is in the state it’s in. Start your day with letting them decide what to wear, give them a choice between outfits if you’re set on controlling this aspect of their lives a little more closely. Give them choices between cereal types, milk or water with breakfast, shoes, which toys/colouring books to pack for the trip, which type of cheese for the lunchbox, which juice to take with, brush teeth upstairs or downstairs, etc. This will help them to be more independent, teach them to be self sufficient, help them gain more confidence and also has the added bonus of making them happy. They’ll feel like they have control over things, which is important for them to grow into well balanced adults.
- Give them ‘me’ time – I personally really like browsing the electronics section… my husband loves to just browse everything that I find totally boring in a shop. But we allow one another time to do just that. Equally so, I spend a solid 5 to 10 minutes in the toy section so that my little one can browse all the cool toys. He will sometimes pick them up, look at them, turn the box over, look at the pictures and then puts it back. He will also put misplaced toys back in their spot. So long as I let him look, he is happy. Sometimes he’ll ask for something, I almost always say no. This is usually received ok, sometimes he gets sad. He’s never thrown a trantrum because of it. If we are about to go into a shop and I know he’s a bit cranky, I always remind him that he can look, but we aren’t buying anything today.
- Know their limits – There’s only so much you can do before anyone finally has enough. Keep in mind I’ve always used the above tactics and I can spend an entire day out doing pretty much what ever I want, while my kid has a great time. But I am in tune with him, I know what his limits are.
Try reading our post on the naughty corner for some tips on discipline. Consistency is the biggest tool a parent has and really needs to make sure you remain consistent.