6 Ways to Avert a Toddler Tantrum at the Supermarket
Uh oh. She starts to grumble a little bit. Tiny things that shouldn't upset her make her imitate the sound a balloon makes when you release its air slowly. Words melt together. "I don't want to," becomes "IDONNAWANNA". It's an impending tantrum. You know it's coming. Your kid knows it is coming. Here are five things you can toss in the toddler volcano to try and calm it down.
I call this the "Oh look! Something shiny!" technique. For me this usually involves some form of slapstick comedy. Let's say my daughter is about to explode into a ball of screaming snot tears because I said we couldn't by ALL of the Goldfish Crackers. Oh look, I (accidentally) tripped and hit my head on the shopping cart. Laughs are had. Goldfish Crackers remain unpurchased.
I like Goldfish crackers too. Maybe we do need 35 bags of them. What's the shelf life? How close is Halloween? Is a cupboard full of orange and white bags of cheese fish crackers worth preventing Toddler Mount Vesuvius from erupting all over aisle seven of Walmart. Probably not, but it is an option. Never take a tool out of your toolbox.
I usually will offer something they are going to get anyway – because toddlers are dumb.
"Sorry honey, we can't get the Goldfish crackers, but tonight I will make you dinner and read you one book before bed."
"I want two books."
"Ok two books."
"Yay!! Two books."
Blame the Spouse:
My wife and I have a prearranged agreement that either one of us can use this technique whenever we want. As long as we both use it and equal amount of times, neither one of us comes out looking like the better parent.
"That's a great idea honey. I'd love to buy all the Goldfish, but Mommy says no. I'm sorry. I'm sad too."
Bait and Switch:
This only works with single items, but I've used it plenty of times. Let them put the item in the cart. Later, when they are not looking, take said item out of the cart and leave it on a random shelf somewhere. I am sure this only works up to a certain age, so use it while you can. Sure retail people hate it when you leave random stuff on random shelves, but it is that or let them deal with your screaming kid. Which brings me to…
Let Her Freak Flag Fly
You've done your best. You've tried all of these techniques, and possibly others. You've asked nicely. You've asked not nicely. You have a cart full of groceries and exiting the store is not an option. People can deal with some screaming. Sure, you might get some looks from people who think you're a bad parent. Those people can go to hell. You're an awesome parent. And hey, maybe there are some teenagers around who can hear the chaos, and maybe they'll think condoms aren't so bad after all. So really, you're helping prevent teen pregnancy. Good job.
And if I am in the market, and I see your kid flipping out, I am going to smile at you and give you the nod. You know the nod. It's the 'I've been there' nod. It's the 'I feel your pain' nod. It's the 'This too shall pass' nod. Then I'll leave you to tend to your kid, and I'll to go home to try and finish the 32 bags of Goldfish crackers I have left in my cupboard before they expire.