How to Deal with a Screaming Child While Shopping

Your kid’s having a major meltdown in a store? Here’s how to take back control without losing your cool -- or your mind.

You will need

  • Advance planning
  • A cool head
  • Self-control

Step 1 Reduce the chances of an outburst Reduce the chances of your child having an outburst in the first place by making sure they’re rested and well fed before setting out.

Step 2 Set a good example Set a good example for your children by keeping a lid on your own temper or you’ll send the message that angry outbursts are okay.

Step 3 Set expectations Set expectations beforehand so children know going in what they will and will not be getting and doing. If they know what to expect, they’re less inclined to go bonkers.

Step 4 Cut it off at the pass Try to stop temper tantrums before they start. Offer a snack; start a silly game when they start to squirm with boredom; give them a little task to focus on if they’re becoming overwhelmed with sights and sounds.

Step 5 Remain calm No luck in thwarting a major meltdown? Don’t make the situation worse by having your own. Tell your child in a soothing voice that you’re sorry they’re upset but they need to calm down.

Step 6 Respond according to their age Your next move depends on your child’s age. If they’re three or under, distracting them often works. If it doesn’t, or if they’re older than three, remove them from the store — even if you have to abandon your shopping cart — and give them a time-out.

Step 7 Explain consequences Explain the consequences of them continuing the tantrum, like you’ll take them home or they won’t get something you promised them.

Step 8 Be soothing Speak softly and tell them that you understand their frustration. If they’ll let you, hold them. Don’t expect them to calm immediately, but follow through with the punishment if they continue to pitch a fit.

Step 9 Talk things over Later, once your child is totally calm, explain that you’ll no longer be able to take them shopping with you if they misbehave. Then hug it out; it’s important that your child know that even if you don’t like their behavior, you still love them.