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The 12 Worst Ways To Respond To A Toddler Tantrum

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I’m no parenting expert, but I have a 2-year-old toddler so I’m starting to understand (and even get a handle on) toddler meltdowns. I’m a bit of a sucker for them, actually. My son has these round, wide eyes, so whenever they fill with tears I basically turn into a puddle. Still, I know that giving in every time isn’t what’s best for either of us long-term, so I’ve practiced various methods of managing and diffusing tantrums. In the process I've discovered some of the best and some of the worst ways to respond to a toddler tantrum since, as you can imagine, some ways of dealing with flailing arms and legs and flying toys and overall disaster are better than others.

Of course, tantrums can strike pretty much anytime or any place, though if kiddos typically within earshot are any indicator, stores with aisles are frequent culprits. Grocery stores, drugstores, and even Target (dang it, Target, you sexy, fluorescent-lit siren. I can’t resist you, even though I know chances are good that at least one member of my party will be in tears at some point during the excursion.) are all potential locations for full-on meltdowns. In other words, nowhere is safe.

Public tantrums are indeed the worst, so while some of these responses are bad everywhere (hello, first two on the list), some of them are especially awful when we’re out in public. If you've yet to experience it for yourself, just read the following and take my word for it (and know that I'm forever jealous of you).

Committing Violence

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Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall way? I’ve got no actual commentary here other than this is the number one worst thing ever and let’s quickly move on before we all get too sad thinking about it...

...but not before enjoying this puppy gif as a palate cleanser.

Threatening Violence

If someone could get banned from twitter for saying it to a stranger, it’s probably best we not say it to our kids, don’t you think?

Plugging Your Ears And Going "LA LA LA"

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I may need to save this one for his teenage years when he’s old enough to really be annoyed, because right now he might actually take it as an invitation to cry louder.

Growling Or Shouting Over Them

Unless your kiddo is someone who thinks seeing mom growl, typically signs of aggression from the animal kingdom don’t work well on distraught kids. (Or so I’ve heard.)

Sobbing Back At Them

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Sometimes you can’t help it and, trust me, I understand. In the end and after a a particularly difficult and trying day, we all need a good cry.

Usually, however, the pasta aisle isn’t the best place for that.

Laying Facedown On The Floor

Note: this one actually isn’t the worst thing ever, if you happen to be in the comfort of your own living room and if said living room was recently vacuumed. Otherwise, I don't recommend it.

Laying Faceup On The Floor

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This one forces you to face your fears, and potentially make awkward eye contact with passing strangers, so proceed with caution.

Hiding In The Next Aisle At The Grocery Store

Just a fair warning though, you can usually still hear their crying from one aisle over. It takes a good four or five aisles of solid distance before their cries start to blend into the background.

Ripping Your Shirt Off And Going “NOW YOU’VE REALLY DONE IT”

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I recommend always wearing at least an extra layer or two when your kiddo is between zero and four years old.

Knocking Over A Store Display As A Diversion And Then Running In The Opposite Direction

Toddlers are quick when they want to be, though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Asking The People Around You, “Do You Know Who’s Kid This Is?”

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Be warned, if your kid is able to say “Mama,” you won’t get too far with this one.

Taking Your Shoes And Earrings Off And Then Saying, “You Really Want To Do This? Let’s Do This Right.”

What? Don’t we all shop barefoot and earring-less? Why is everyone staring at me?