Preventing shopping mall meltdowns

Child having a tantrum at a shopping mall

You’re headed towards the check-out counter when your toddler spots a colourful candy display. You quickly try to focus his interest elsewhere, but it’s too late. He asks for candy and you explain that he’s already had a treat today, dreading what is likely to come next. He arches his back and starts to wail as you look nervously at the shoppers around you and brace for a shopping meltdown.

When your child has a tantrum in public it’s hard not to have a meltdown yourself, but there are things you can do to try and avoid these blow-ups.

Remember that shopping can be really overwhelming for young children. They can be over-stimulated by stores and may become more difficult to manage in response to this.

It’s not always easy to discipline a child while others are watching. However, it’s important that you try to be consistent with what you would do at home. Often it may seem easier to look the other way or give in to a demanding child, rather than deal with it right there. However, inconsistency may encourage even more demanding behaviour in the future.

Our experts have put together some strategies you can try when going out, in order to prevent your child from having a tantrum:

  • Try to remain calm and maintain firm limits from the beginning to the end of the trip.
  • Talk to your child while you shop, run errands and so on – engage her attention. Ask her opinion, and ask her to help you find what you are looking for.
  • Allow your child to participate in what you are doing. For example, if you are shopping, let him help pick out the fruit.
  • Don’t go on an outing when your child is tired, hungry or ill.
  • Try to keep trips short.
  • Bring a snack along to make sure your child does not become hungry, and so you won’t be tempted to give your child a treat in an effort to stop a tantrum.