It’s a scene we know all too well. You’re in the supermarket with a full trolley when your little one throws a big tantrum on the aisle floor. They're howling, you’re horrified and everyone is looking at you.
Besides pretending they’re not yours (which can be tricky), it’s hard to know what to do when your kid’s about to go nuclear. Here’s some survival tips from our Kinderling Helpline expert Chris Minogue for pulling bub back from the brink and avoiding it altogether.
1. Choose your time carefully
Gone are the days of just going shopping when you need to. Chris says it’s important to be mindful of your child’s limitations and choose a time that suits their schedule and energy levels.
If possible, avoid shopping just before nap time or late in the day when they’re tired and witching hour is approaching. Also, don’t expect the child to sit in a trolley peacefully for too long – they’re just not built that way.
“You have to take in the needs of getting the shopping done but it has to be reasonable to the age group of the child,” says Chris.
“Generally, [tantrums] only happen in the wrong timeframe for the child. So if it’s 4:30pm in the afternoon, and you’ve just picked them up from daycare, thinking ‘I’m just going to whip into Coles to pick up six things’, it could be the longest ten minutes of your life.”
2. Pack some food
Stop them getting distracted by food on the shelves by bringing your own. Chris recommends packing a quick sandwich or taking advantage of some supermarkets’ free fruit to keep little hands full of food, rather than reaching for something else and getting upset when you say no.
3. Distract them with fun and games
Going down the chocolate aisle with a small child can feel like running the gauntlet, with tears all round. Yes, you could just skip it and give up chocolate but that’s just silly talk, right?! Instead, when rolling down one of these risky aisles, Chris suggests playing a game, like Peek-A-Boo or Eye-Spy to keep their eyes off the prize, so to speak.
4. If in trouble, ask for help
If it’s all going to hell in a shopping basket, Chris suggests taking a deep breath and getting assistance. Ask a fellow shopper to watch your trolley while you console your child, or if the situation is unsalvageable, consider getting your groceries home-delivered instead to reduce your time out.
Check out Chris' book Bringing Baby Home on the Pan McMillan website.
Have a question of your own? Get in touch with Kinderling Helpline, and tune in Mondays at midday.
Robin Barker's guide to toddler tantrums
What to do before your little one blows a fuse.
Mini-meltdowns: how to tackle kids’ temper tantrums
The bigger, scarier relation of the toddler tantrum is the small child tantrum.
How to negotiate with a toddler
Sometimes parenting can feel like you’re a police negotiator and your sanity’s being held hostage. Here's how to defuse the situation.
I keep my kid's teeth in a jewellery box. Is that weird?
If you’re a fan of the tooth fairy then you’ve got some decisions to make, writes Shevonne Hunt.
Parents of Australia, feed yourself breakfast first!
Self-care for parents start with how we feed our bodies, says nutritonist Susie Burrell.
“Mummy, say sorry to Daddy” 7 phrases of discipline my kids use against me
Proving they do listen sometimes!
How same-sex couples divide home chores and kids-raising duties
Same, same but different...
Why primary school is the next hurdle for an anxious parent
Just when I thought I had this parenting thing sorted, my daughter started school, writes presenter Shevonne Hunt.