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8 Ways to Handle Toddler Tantrums in Public

8 Ways to Handle Toddler Tantrums in Public

Do you have a toddler who throws tantrums in public?  We’ve all been there – our toddler is having a meltdown in public, and we are unsure how to handle it. 

That is why I will share 8 different ways you can handle your toddler’s tantrums in public!

In This Article

  • Plan & Prepare
  • Don’t Worry About Anyone Else
  • Set Clear Expectations Beforehand
  • Keep Consequences Consistent
  • Find A Way To Involve Your Child
  • Empathize & Acknowledge
  • Find A Private Place
  • Give Praise Often While Out In Public

8 Ways to Handle Toddler Tantrums in Public

1. Plan & Prepare

Planning and preparing is the first way you can handle your toddler tantrums in public. 

If you know that your toddler is prone to tantrums in public, or if you are going to be in a situation where there might be triggers for a tantrum, it is essential to plan ahead. 

You can do this by trying to avoid situations that might trigger a tantrum by having a distraction or a toy ready or even bringing along a favorite snack. 

2. Don’t Worry About Anyone Else

The second way to handle your toddler tantrums in public is by not worrying about anyone else. 

When our toddlers are having a meltdown, it can be tempting to want to try and appease them quickly so that we don’t draw attention to ourselves.

Everyone has been in your shoes. It’s not a parent’s job to make other people feel comfortable. Although parents may feel embarrassed at times when their child throws a tantrum. All you need to care for is your child at this moment.

Yes, people will stare but do your best to ignore it, focusing 100% on your child and trying to calm the situation.

3. Set Clear Expectations Beforehand

If you are going to be out and about with your toddler, it is important to set clear expectations beforehand. 

This means discussing with your toddler what is expected of them while you are out.

You may say something like

“We need to use our inside voices.”

“Today, we are not going to buy candy or a toy. Only what we need.”


“Bums need to stay in the seats while eating”

When setting expectations, make sure they are specific instead of generalized such as, “I need you to be good.” This is too vague, and toddlers need more specific and age-appropriate expectations set.

When you establish the expectations beforehand, you can reference them again if you need to give a warning or a consequence.

4. Keep Consequences Consistent

Try to use the same consequences you do at home when you are away from home. Just because you are not at your home doesn’t mean you have to give different consequences. Toddlers will more likely respond better when given the same consequence at home.

If your toddler at home starts throwing a tantrum and you and your toddler move to the couch or stairs to help them calm down. Then do the same in public and move to your car, a bathroom, or a nursing room. Wherever you can, find a calming and quiet place for your toddler while they move through their tantrum.

5. Find A Way To Involve Your Child

toddler tantrums in public

Some tantrums are caused by toddlers feeling left out or bored. If you can find a way to involve your child in what you are doing, it can help prevent a tantrum from happening.

You can do this by asking them to help hold the grocery list, talking about what they see, hear, smell or feel, talking about what you are doing, and even asking about colors and shapes. Toddlers love to feel included and like they are a part of what is going on. Involving your child in the process is a fantastic way to help prevent tantrums in public.

6. Empathize & Acknowledge

If your toddler starts throwing a tantrum in public, empathize and acknowledge their feelings. This may sound like, “I hear you are mad because you wanted that toy, and I said no.”

Once you empathize and acknowledge, you can remind your child of the expectation you set before arriving at the store by saying, “Remember, I only said that we were going to get what we needed today.”

Then continue with what you were previously doing. If your toddler is still throwing a tantrum even after you have empathized, acknowledged, and reminded your toddler of the expectation, you may need to…

7. Find A Private Place

As I mentioned above, you may need to move to a private place like your car, the bathroom, or a quiet area where you can allow your toddler to ride out their tantrum.

When parents give in to their toddlers’ tantrums and demands, they are letting their toddlers know that throwing a tantrum is a great way to get their parent’s attention or to get what they want. 

If you can not calmly help your toddler through their tantrum, take them to a private place where they can ride the tantrum out once it is over. Once you are calm, try and help your child calm down by saying, “can you take a deep breath,” or “do you need a hug?” then reinstate the expectations and continue doing what you were previously doing.

8. Give Praise Often While Out In Public

Toddlers don’t intentionally try to embarrass their parents or be bad. They are little humans trying to figure out life. When your toddler is following the expectations, make sure to give praise and acknowledge that they are doing an excellent job at helping you, keeping their bum in the seat, or whatever expectations they are following.

Toddlers live for praise and love feeling like they are doing a great job.


By following these tips, you will be on your way to helping your toddler through their tantrums.

If you are interested in learning how to set boundaries with your toddler, get your toddler to listen and how to become a gentle parent. Check out my book called Parenting Without Drama. 

If you are already doing gentle parenting, you can learn more gentle parenting methods that you may not be using! In my book, we dive deep into gentle parenting and how you can start incorporating it into your home and relationship with your child.