Avoiding holiday shopping temper tantrums

We’ll all be shopping more in the next few weeks.  If we take our preschoolers, there is always a possibility of a temper tantrum.  WHAT!  NOT MY CHILD!  NO, NO, NOT EVER!…STAMPING MY FEET WITH STEAM COMING OUT OF MY EARS :)

Realistically speaking though, here are three easy discipline tricks that really work.

  1. Make a game out of what must be done: Sing a silly song, make funny faces, say the ABC’s in a high/low voice.  This works for things like buckling up the seat belt of the car seat (don’t all children hate that), leaving the toy store, putting on a jacket or hat.
  2. Be matter-of-fact: Don’t ask, “Do you want to put on your jacket?” or “Shall we put that toy down because we are ready to leave?”  Just say, “We are ready to leave and we are putting on our jackets.” (and maybe start singing a song about now we are putting our jackets on, jackets on, jackets on, etc.)  Or, “It’s time to leave the store and put the toy back…which shelf are we putting it back on, the top shelf or the bottom shelf?” (always make sure that when you give your child a choice, BOTH choices will lead to the goal YOU have in mind)
  3. Warn, distract, and then proceed with what needs to be done: Children like to know what the plan is…and they need to realize that what you say goes and that there is no discussion or negotiation.  It helps, if possible, to give a warning.  For example, when you need to leave the store, give your child a warning in a friendly upbeat tone of voice, “One more hug for mister bear and then we will put him back on his shelf and go and get a drink at the water fountain on our way to the car.”  After the hug, help your child put the bear back, scoop him up, head towards the water fountain, singing a song about bears or water or whatever.  Or, if you are at the library, you might say, “You can turn two more pages and then we will take our books to the librarian to check out so we can go home and read one of them.  Again, scoop up your child (if there is any question he disagrees about your plan to leave), and head towards the library checkout.  Let your child know you understand how he is feeling, “I bet you wish you could stay in the library all day, but it’s time to check out.  You can hold the library card and give it to the librarian.”

One of the hardest things about dealing with preschoolers is that they are easily distracted and often cannot stick with one thing for very long.  This distractibility is a blessing in disguise, however.  No matter what they are involved in: looking at a book, playing with a toy, having a temper tantrum…they can almost always be distracted from it if your are able to turn their attention to something else.  I am not really a very good singer, but when my children where little, I sang ALL the time…when I buttoned up their jackets, put them in the stroller, washed their hair.  Silly songs, happy songs, high songs, low songs…it really worked!   I can remember only one temper tantrum…one of my children (I won’t say which one) wanted a candy bar as we were checking out at the grocery store (don’t you LOVE how they put all those tempting sweets right at child-level?) and, being busy putting up the food on the counter and trying to watch the register read-out as the items were being scanned, I “ignored” my child’s rising whine of “I want a candy” and soon I had a 2 year old laying flat on the floor, kicking his feet.  Had I been paying attention and intervened at the start of this candy demand, I think I could have distracted him and avoided the temper tantrum altogether.

For more parenting help during the holidays, you can check out Katherine Lewis’ blog carnival:

About Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD'S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING. freelance writer, picture book junkie, love to travel, hike, cook, play Monopoly with my 5-year old grandson and go fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on November 24, 2010, in children, Holiday shopping with kids, kids, parenting, preschoolers, shopping with kids, temper tantrums and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great points and something all parents need to keep in mind during this holiday season… Phew! My kids are older now but I remember the terrible twos…
    I am following through on our connecting on BloggyMom. Glad to connect via our WordPress blogs. Looking forward to reading more and vise versa. :-)
    Happy Holidays!
    Elizabeth

  2. Wonderful post.

    Some tips even work for adults gone “haywire.” If we are kicking and stomping our feet, we can learn to distract ourselves . . . by focusing on our breath, counting to ten, or looking for something more positive to focus our attention on:

    Oh, look, chocolate! :)

    Thanks, Vivian

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