4 ways to keep your cool and survive a toddler tantrum

There's no point going head-to-head in the crying stakes with your beautiful, furious, baby.

Dad knows how to calm him down

It started as a perfectly peaceful trip to Bunnings, with the kids enjoying the trolley ride down each isle as we grabbed what we needed.

But somewhere down isle 32, when we were looking for some pots and supplies for a new herb garden, they just lost it. And I mean zero to 100 in an instant. No warning, nothing.

Most of us have been through the public meltdown with our kids, or at least seen it  bubbling like a volcano ready to explode at any given moment.

I don’t know about you, but it has a real impact on me.

So after our kids lost the plot next to the potting mix, I just wanted to get out of there.

It didn’t matter to me that we still hadn’t got the pots we needed for the herbs. My partner, on the other hand, has this magical super power where she can block out the kids and stay calm.


Because I had started losing the plot as well, I snapped at my partner because I wanted to bail ASAP.

Tensions rose, my tone probably wasn’t the best (hindsight is a wonderful thing), and bang … we have arrived at Argument City.

On the drive home I wondered how am I meant to stay clam in those situations? How do I deal with the kids and not end up in a meltdown myself?

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Here’s what I have since learned:

1. Breath

Have you ever noticed the difference between the way you breathe when you feel relaxed versus when you’re stressed?

Everyone handles stressful situations (like your kids having a public meltdown) differently, but for most people their heart rate skyrockets and their breathing shortens.

One of the most effective ways to quickly get your heart rate under control is to take a few deep breaths.

Now, the essence of time wasn’t really on my side during the Bunnings meltdown, however, had I stopped and taken a single deep breath and then tackled the situation I would have been so much more likely to make a rational decision and effectively deal with it.

I know it’s hard, and the immediate thought is to do anything humanly possible to stop your kids from having a meltdown, but just breathe.

2. Change the scenery

This sounds so much easier that it actually is, but sometimes just moving from your current location can make the world of difference.

We need to understand that kids can lose the plot for no reason. They’re good at it, too.

But changing the scenery means they become exposed to new colours, shapes and smells. Which, as a result, distracts them from why they were throwing a tantrum in the first place.

Had I just pushed the trolley around to the next isle and let my partner choose the herb pots, both kids would be in a totally different space, causing them to look around and possibly overt the crisis.

3. Loosen the reins a bit

Let them run wild. The non-child-wranglers in Bunnings should be fully aware that they run the risk of confronting little monsters when they hit the gardening section.

Sometimes our kids can lose the plot because of us. They might not want to sit in the pram, hold our hand or do exactly what we say. Let them explore and work through the tantrum themselves.

If I think back to how the whole thing played out, both kids were in the pram and it was disgustingly muggy. They were probably just over being stuck in the same spot and wanted to roam around like Mum and Dad were. Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

4. Don’t take it personally

This probably rolls the previous three tips into one. In a nutshell, we shouldn’t take public meltdowns too seriously.

I mean, who cares. Seriously, kids are going to lose the plot no matter where they are. I have far greater empathy for parents when I see it happen now.

I might utter the words ‘thank god it’s them and not me’ but at least the thought is there.

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty or out of control because your kids have a momentary breakdown. It’s important to keep in mind that your kids’ actions are not so much directed at you as they are simply a show of their own frustrations.

The magic solution would be to apply all of these simultaneously if you want to survive a public meltdown unscathed, but the reality is it’s stressful when the kids lose it so try for at least one or two.

And whatever you do, do NOT take your frustration or emotions out toward you partner. God help you if you do.


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