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How to pick up/carry/deal with tantrumming toddler in public?

(74 Posts)
cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:09:10

Just had awful awful experience in town and left in tears and really shaken. My just turned three year old has always been prone to the occasional tantrum but it has really escalated. Yesterday, when he refused to move and lay down on pavement, I pretended to walk away as he always follows me (eventually) but I was aware it looked like he was on his own crying and felt uncomfortable with it as people were looking and may not have known I was nearby.

Today was AWFUL. He wanted to go to a pizza restaurant and I said no so he started tantrumming and tantrumming on the pavement. I had already arranged to meet a friend in another cafe but as he was being so awful, told him we would not go there either after he refused to get up off floor.

I had read that rather than try to remove them, it was best to just stand there, be calm and ignore them which I did (despite lots of strange looks) but he just carried on and on so I had to try and carry him as he was in the way of people but with heavy shopping bags and handbag swinging, it was so hard with him fighting- tried to be calm but was so mortified with everyone staring and he kept slipping down, fighting me, (I was hurting him trying to cling on) and running off towards 'cafe'.

I did then lose it and shout at him and threaten him as was so desperate and I am aware I probably did the wrong thing constantly- told him he could not have his new toy (for being good) unless he walked nicely but that just made his legs buckle and tantrum even more.

A friend arrived who he loves and she tried to be stern with him and pick him up which made things worse as he screamed for me but then still would not walk. He only stopped when I threatened to phone the police then called up my partner and said what was happening and as he thought I was talking to the police, he got up, started walking very nicely and apologised! This approach is not the best I know but at that point I was so desperate I didn't care.

Sorry for essay- need a vent. So scared there will be a post about the awful mum on another section on mumsnet!

So what is the best thing to do next time it happens? Being calm and ignoring just prolongs the misery and can't always be done ( eg if I am on way to work and his childminder or he is in way of people and he is liable to fall asleep from tantrum exhaustion)

I am too physically weak and small to just scoop him up over my shoulders if I have bags and he is kicking. Threats make him even angrier.

I have written too much- sorry. Arrrgh!

JuliaScurr Fri 07-Feb-14 14:18:02

oh, you poor thing brew

it's awful when they do that. and other people watching makes it worse. A sympathetic smile might have helped

you could try 'penny in the jar' for every half hour of good behaviour, 10 gets a little prize
worked with dd

maybe don't try to move him? It won't kill anyone to walk round, you can apologise as they pass

keep calm if poss
give yourself a prize

littlebluedog12 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:18:49

You have my sympathy it's an awful stage! I have always just left them to it, wherever possible, and sometimes have done the pretending to leave thing too!

I guess the best way (but not always achievable) is to try to anticipate the situations/routes that might lead to a tantrum and avoid them! Eg not walking past the pizza restaurant, not taking him shopping with you. Also talking about it in advance eg 'we're going to the park now but when it's time to go I expect you to come when I tell you.' Or bribery! 'If you're a good boy in town we can get a treat in the corner shop on the way home'. Or a sticker chart?

Good luck and ignore the people staring, they probably all went through it too!

JuliaScurr Fri 07-Feb-14 14:19:05

smile from the people, I mean, not from you

littlebluedog12 Fri 07-Feb-14 14:20:37

Oh, and if I were you I would use the police tactic again now that you've set the precedent wink

plantsitter Fri 07-Feb-14 14:25:09

tbh if the cll to the 'police' worked I don't think it's a bad solution at all.

I try never to go shopping with DD2 but if I do I go very early in the morning wwhen she's not tired and I take the pushchair, which we still have for the school run. That way I can threaten her with the pushchair or just put her in it if she's having a tantrum. If you need to be somewhere and don't have time to stand and ignore, it's the only solution really.

cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:31:45

Thanks for replies- I did get some sympathetic smiles but a few people looked at me in horror as it looked liked I was abducting him when trying to carry him! Will try a penny in the jar- he is an utter angel mostly with his childminder and dad and seems to save the hideous tantrums for me as daddy can just scoop him and carry him home.

It is impossible to work out what can cause a tantrum as well littlebluedog12 It can range from him not being able to put his socks on easily but refusing help to the wrong shape of ice cube in his drink.
I did all the talking in advance and talking about the right behaviour and thus earlier he I bought him a wand for good behaviour around the supermarket, he was angelic but when he loses it, he is gone and does not care about stickers, pennies, threats or rewards.
Next time, I will not move him as it becomes a battle of wills and escalates things further.

Thanks for understanding- feel like worst mum ever- utterly hate hate hate a public scene. The best bit was the young guy with what smelt like a spliff giving me a wink and a thumbs up!

DeWe Fri 07-Feb-14 14:40:48

Rugby ball, sideways across you, with them facing outwards. One hand across their chest, and other round their bottom.
That way they can't hit, kick or bite you easily. Unfortunately they make up for that in noise. grin

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Fri 07-Feb-14 14:42:26

Anyone looking in horror is not worth worrying about, honestly.

Mine is still in the buggy (he's 2) but i used to have dn every weekend all weekend when she was a toddler so I've sat out my fair share tantrums.

I used to just sit down nearby, on a bench or on the pavement and pretend to read a book / look the other way till she calmed down. Then i'd ask her to come say sorry.

It'll pass, it's no reflection on you and nobody should judge you. Little ones sometimes struggle with emotions. We would talk it out / argue - they're not able to so it comes out in an angry tantrum

It'll pass,

cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:46:01

I tried a vague version of that DeWe but had bought a very heavy but very reduced slate plate with bowl set from Sainsburys along with other shopping which kept sliding down arms and thwacking us. Going to go for a rucksac next time instead of my very naice designer bag and shopping bags. But yes, will def use your advice next time- trying to memorise it now!

cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:53:08

Thanks BobPatSamandIgglePiggle I probably would have judged me and been horrified a year or so ago if I had seen me today! I did try it today but my friend arriving to try a different strategy probably did not help and the 78th scream of 'want 'afe want afe' made me finally lose it as he just did not calm down and I was so desperate to just get home.
He is now zonked out on sofa and does normally have a nap easily. He is quite good with discussing emotions normally but when the mist descends, there is no way of contacting him until it finally passes or I threaten to phone the police!

ouryve Fri 07-Feb-14 14:53:10

If he needed moving away from the source of his tantrum (some kids can't stop until you take the possibility of what they're screaming for away) then the best thing for your friend to do would have been to take your bags so you could manage him. Crouch down, hook arm up between legs, so he can't twist, use other to lift him across your body, so his centre of gravity isn't pulling you forward and march!

cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:53:51

does NOT normally have a nap easily

cyberfairy Fri 07-Feb-14 14:59:00

Thanks ouryve We had moved on from sight of initial tantrum but he was then screaming about going to any cafe which the high street was full off and then even in the cafe free road was hysterical. Will try your advice- feel more confident now I have some proper strategies in place.
Many thanks again

murphy36 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:02:36

Suggested to me has been to tell them that if they don't stop and do XYZ before you get to three, then they'll be punished. Repeat a couple of times so they get it and then slowly count to 3.

Most times they stop before you get to three as their ideas of what you'll do. You also have a bit of time to think of a suitable piece of discipline.

DS isn't at this stage yet so not sure it works. I do highlight 'treats' are for good behaviour in general, not in slots, but 'treats' is just anything I know he likes and doesn't get everyday.

murphy36 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:02:36

Suggested to me has been to tell them that if they don't stop and do XYZ before you get to three, then they'll be punished. Repeat a couple of times so they get it and then slowly count to 3.

Most times they stop before you get to three as their ideas of what you'll do. You also have a bit of time to think of a suitable piece of discipline.

DS isn't at this stage yet so not sure it works. I do highlight 'treats' are for good behaviour in general, not in slots, but 'treats' is just anything I know he likes and doesn't get everyday.

GlitzAndGiggles Fri 07-Feb-14 18:18:19

I've left a shop in tears because of dd's tantrums! She was running into freezer doors then heading for the wine aisle so I was chasing her with a shouty security guard chasing me and shouting to leave it was awful. Usually I just leave her to it on the floor and slowly walk away and smile at the freaks giving me dirty looks grin. It amazes me how many people forget they were once a tantrumming child

MarjorieChardem Fri 07-Feb-14 18:33:11

I have one of these, you have my sympathies! Unfortunately I can't physically move mine either as am 7.5 months pg and he is fecking huge and v heavy.

Today has been one tantrum after another, and what's worse is I can't even have wine! confused

No advice but lots of sympathy.

stealthsquiggle Fri 07-Feb-14 18:33:16

A fireman's lift is an alternative approach (over you shoulder, your arm firmly wrapped around one leg) for a toddler too big/fighty for the rugby ball approach. It would probably still require your friend to have carried your bags though.

MiaowTheCat Fri 07-Feb-14 18:52:09

I go for the under the arm like a roll of carpet hoiked up onto my hip approach myself - free from leg and arm flail potential. Hand through legs if they're trying to do the slippery toddler or toddler ironing board manoeuvre to get them into position.

Gloria1969 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:53:16

I usually find that kisses and cuddles sort them out!

stealthsquiggle Fri 07-Feb-14 18:54:14

lucky you, Gloria. Doesn't work for all (or even most) tantrumming toddlers IME.

Pimmsbear Fri 07-Feb-14 19:20:04

If only it were that simple Gloria!

I sympathise, my dd aged 2 has been pulling off epic toddler strops since she was about 12 months old. I swear it's pay back for all the judgy faces I pulled in Sainsbury's (pre-child) at tantruming toddlers. Of course I was never going to let my child behave like that when I had

invicta Fri 07-Feb-14 19:25:10

As long as your child is safe and not in danger, then I would let him have his tantrum.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 07-Feb-14 19:31:09

arf at kisses and cuddles. If only!

I used to use the over the shoulder and quick exit. I feel your pain about the breakable shopping, what a nightmare.

Don't worry, this phase will pass. Sounds like you handled the situation ok, some days are just a nightmare.

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