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How to Discipline Your Toddler Anywhere: 10 Simple Ways to Handle Your Child's Tantrum

Everyone has been there - your toddler decides to have an epic meltdown in the middle of the grocery store as you're halfway through your big shopping trip for the week. What to do? Try these 10 simple tactics to tame a tantrum!
How to discipline your toddler when they're having a tantrum
Updated: December 1, 2022

It's inevitable - you have a cart full of groceries, winding your way through the aisles of the store, when your sweet, gentle toddler decides to throw a raging tantrum. Knowing how to discipline your toddler in public can be tricky, especially if you get embarrassed easily. However, with a few of these toddler-taming tactics in your toolbox, you can manage your child's outbursts, no matter where you go.

Tantrum Tip #1: Bring Snacks

how to discipline your toddler bring snacks

Photo source: Flickr/Heather Morris

Think about it, we can all get a little cranky if we feel hungry. The same idea might hold true for your little one, especially if they're surrounded by the sights and smells of the grocery story. To avoid hunger-related tantrums, plan ahead by packing a few snacks in your purse.

Tantrum Tip #2: Create Distraction

how to discipline your toddler create distraction

Photo source: Flickr/lpnphotography

Toddlers have a short attention span, and if you catch a tantrum at just the right time, you might just be able to distract your child completely. Wherever you go, bring along a few small toys or books, then bring them out right when your child starts to lose control.

Tantrum Tip #3: Get a Breath of Fresh Air

how to discipline your toddler go outside

Photo source: Flickr/Rebecca Weaver

A breath of fresh air can change anyone's attitude. So when your toddler has an epic meltdown that seems inconsolable, try taking them outside. Feeling the breeze on their skin, the sun on their face, or even a slight sprinkle could possibly help calm a crying fit in no time.

Tantrum Tip #4: Don't Forget Nap Time

how to discipline your toddler naptime

Photo source: Flickr/substitutemommy

If you try taking your toddler on an outing during nap time, you might be setting yourself up for disaster. Don't neglect nap time, even if that means rescheduling an appointment or missing out on a field trip. When your little one feels well rested, they could be less likely to get overwhelmed by little bumps in the road.

Tantrum Tip #5: Empathize

how to discipline your toddler empathize

Photo source: Flickr/outdoorstudios

When your child feels like they're not being heard, a minor outburst could quickly escalate into a total temper tantrum. It's possible you can catch it early by empathizing with your toddler's feelings. Whether they want a cookie or want to explore an area that's off limits, let them know that you understand and that you wish you could give it to them. You'll be amazed how quickly this can calm an upset toddler.

Tantrum Tip #6: If You Can, Ignore It

how to discipline your toddler ignore it

Photo source: Flickr/Debs1968

Let's face it, sometimes toddlers will try screaming their heads off in order to convince you to give them what they want. One possible solution -- ignore it. Utah State University suggests, "In a situation like this where parents don't have time to quiet the child, or to take the child back home to time-out, the single best thing to do is just ignore the tantrum, walk away and go on with your business." Obviously, this method won't work very well in a quiet place, like a library or in church, but if you're able to ignore your toddlers tantrum, he/she might just give up on the game.

Tantrum Tip #7: Use a Calm Tone of Voice

how to discipline your toddler use calm voice

Photo source: Flickr/imnOthere0

It's easy to lose your temper when you have a screaming toddler out in public. You just want them to stop! However, if you can maintain your composure and keep a calm, relaxed tone of voice, it could help pacify your child's outburst more quickly.

Tantrum Tip #8: Avoid Punishment

how to discipline your toddler don't punish

Photo source: Flickr/cliffschic

Toddlers and tantrums go hand in hand, and it's important to remember not to punish your little one for having one. Your child is still learning how to interact in the world, and doesn't understand why they can't have what they want at all times. Avoid any type of punishment when dealing with toddler tantrums, like taking away toys, yelling, or spanking your child.

Tantrum Tip #9: Don't Give In

how to discipline your toddler

Photo source: Flickr/mudry

Possibly the worst thing you can do when dealing with a tantrum is to give in. Try to avoid letting your child have her way when he/she is having a fit. Often, this reaction will only cause your toddler to think that throwing a tantrum will result in achieving his/her goal.

Tantrum Tip #10: Remember, It's a Phase

how to discipline your toddler

Photo source: More Good Foundation

Although some days it might seem like your toddler will continue to throw tantrums forever, keep in mind that this type of behavior is only a stage that will pass. Pretty soon, and with a lot of patience, your child will gain a natural understanding about the appropriate way to communicate his/her emotions.

Still trying to find out how to discipline your toddler in public? Try these 10 ways to deal with temper tantrums.

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