7 Tantrum Tamers to Take Along While Running Errands

Family Matters on 05.07.12
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Photo: Camdiluv ♥ / Creative Commons

I had one of those pesky-little, thankfully-minor parenting FAILs today. I'm hosting a video series that's taping next week, so I had to go dress shopping with my almost-2-year-old daughter in tow - something I have avoided her whole life up until today. To give you the short story, we took a detour to tantrum town. The long story is that there are plenty of things I could have done differently to prevent her meltdown.

I usually go equipped with some essential Tantrum Tamers while we're out running errands, but today I goofed. I figured we wouldn't be out long enough for her to get cranky. WRONG! Thank you for playing, but it didn't quite work out that way. Here are the big 7 toddler tantrum tamers that I deploy on the days I'm using my head:

1. Books

Okay, so this is the only thing I managed to bring, but it's only because our car doubles as a traveling library. Apparently the selection I brought into the store wasn't riveting enough.

2. Toys

It's tough to choose toys that are portable enough, but I could have brought a toy cellphone, some Silly Putty or Play-Doh, or her Magna Doodle.

3. Beloved Doll or Action Figure

Alex has a stuffed dog she enjoys playing with now and again. Letting her grip that big fluffy dog often cheers her up. It also helps if I include the dog in conversations and occasionally play ventriloquist with the dog so he barks and talks to her; I don't care if I look like a complete weirdo.

4. Soothing Object

Alex has two different little stuffed animals that she sleeps with, as well as her binky. I try to limit pacifier use to the crib for naps and nighttime sleep. It's a real winner when I can produce a binky for her when we're out of the house and she's out of her mind.

5. Interesting Snacks

Sometimes if I know I absolutely need her to keep calm, I will time an outing with a meal and then ply her with her favorite snacks. Hungry child + favorite food = Nirvana.

6. Smartphone Videos

Ever since Alia posted 7 Videos to Distract, Entertain, and Calm Your Screaming Kid, I had it in mind to whip out videos of Alex's favorite TV show the next time she was exercising her vocal chords. Unfortunately, my phone had other ideas today. Navigation was painfully slow, and by the time I finally clicked on the video, my phone said I needed a flash plugin to watch it. DOH! Next time, I'll cue up some videos ahead of time rather than fumbling with my phone while Alex freaks out.

Here's a post-script on this one: if your child is going bonkers while you stand there transfixed by your cell phone, onlookers will assume you are a giant jackass. At least that's only what I can imagine went through anyone's mind who saw me today.

7. Your Singing Voice

Another tactic I turn to in desperate times is to sing a song. Sometimes I make up my own goofy lyrics, like, "When you scream in the grocery store, it makes me sad." That's a good little ditty. If I'm flustered and uninspired, then the no-brainer song I turn to is You Are My Sunshine.

I don't know where my head was today, because it did not occur to me to burst into song while we were in the dressing room and Alex was starting to lose it. The last time I sang to Alex to calm a tantrum, she said to me in her tiny, adorable little voice, "Great singing!" and my heart melted into a goopy puddle all over the floor.

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