We have all seen parents with those “unruly” or “spoiled” child(ren). You know, the ones with the child that is kicking and screaming in the middle of the supermarket aisle. The dreaded tantrum! Why can’t those parents just control their child(ren)?!?

Then there are those poor parents! They may not know what to do help their child. Tantrums are not the result of “bad parenting.” Parents, listen up! When you have strategies at your disposal to assist your child’s behavior you may be able to prevent some of these behaviors and have better control of challenges if they arise.

Let’s walk through 7 helpful tips to minimize tantrums in public.

  • Create a Social Story
  • Know Your Child’s Triggers
  • Model Acceptable Behavior
  • Implement “First, Then” System
  • Find Motivators
  • Avoid Scalding and “Giving In”
  • Understand and Validate

Create a Social Story

Social stories can be beneficial for helping kids to process changes in their environment. The goal is the child will understand and know what to expect even before a transition or event occurs.

Know Your Child’s Triggers

If a child has sensory issues, avoid bringing them to places that will trigger behavior. Consider using noise-cancellation headphones to filter sound. Similarly, do not walk a child that is sensitive to smell around the perfume counter at the mall. Be mindful of these details as they relate to the environment.

Model Acceptable Behavior

Have the child role play with their big brother or sister (or an older peer). Allow this individual set and teach the expectation so that the younger child knows what to do.

Implement the “First,Then” System

The “first, then” system is designed to help kids do complete tasks in order to receive a reward. The reward can be anything that is of interest to the child. There are expectations that need to be met prior to their child receiving the reward. I recommended parents start small and work their way up. This is really important because you don’t want to make situation even more overwhelming than it already is.

Find Motivators

Some children respond very well to motivators. A motivator is simply something that helps get children motivated to do something. For some it’s food; for others it may be a toy, a video game, or stuffed animal. It really doesn’t matter what the motivator is, the goal is to find something that will prompt the child to be on his or her best behavior.

Avoid Scalding and “Giving In”

If your child is having a difficult time, try not to make them feel bad about it. It’s difficult to know what the exact trigger might have been, especially the if the child is nonverbal. On the same note, one should not simply give in to the behavior. “Giving in” potentially gives the perception that the maladaptive behavior is okay and might escalate the behavior in similar settings.

Understand and Validate

For children who are verbal, never ask them why are behaving this way in the moment. After the behavior has de-escalated be sure to go talk with them to see what may have been the trigger.

Parents, navigating temper tantrums can be difficult. You have permission to not apologize for your child’s behavior. You have permission to not explain or reveal information regarding your child’s health or diagnosis. You have permission to do what’s best for your child in the moment. Don’t be embarrassed or overwhelmed by the stares, gasps and pointing. Unless someone has gone through what you’ve gone through it might be difficult for them to understand. Don’t take it personally Continue to what you know best — love and support your child!

I want to hear from you. Let me know your experience implementing these tips. Feel free to comment below or to our social media pages @bebalancednd.

If you need additional support, take advantage of our Autism Behavior and Nutrition Discovery Session!

Author Dr. Shyron Alston

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