Monday, November 19, 2012


 1. Have a plan – think ahead about your child’s needs.
- Are they tired before you start shopping?  Do they need a nap?
- Are they hungry – have you got food and drink with you?
- Are they in pain? Are they unconfortable - too hot - too cold?
- Have you got things to distract them?
- If they get agitated what will you do - do you have an exit plan?

2. Discuss Expectations - If they are old enough to comprehend, before you set off for the store tell them where you are going
and what your expectations for their behavior will be.

3. Treat or no treat? - Let your child know beforehand that if they behave as you have asked, you will reward them. Rather than a treat at the store (which is costly and sets you up for potential future meltdowns at the store) you could exchange the reward for something good at home.  "Because you have done as I asked; you walked without running ahead, you didn't touch things on the shelves and you didn't ask for a treat at the store, I am going to let you choose what you want for dinner tonight. Or, I am going to let you have more time playing in the bath. Or, I am going to read you two stories at bedtime."

4. Watch for the signs of agitation -  If you've checked all the above scenarios and the meltdown is already starting, try distracting them with fun activities like, "Who can spot the first person wearing a hat?" Or, "What colors do you see?" etc...If nothing is working and they are now having a full-fledged meltdown, remove them as quickly as possible. Calm yourself – count to 20 slowly. When your child stops crying, explain your expectations again. Depending on their behavior, continue shopping or take them home. Be prepared that you may have to cut your shopping trip short and deal with their behavior. It's a pain, but worth it in the long run.

5. Praise good behavior - Kids love to please you. Verbal praise is often more meaningful and longer lasting than treats as a reward for meeting your expectations. There's nothing wrong with giving store treats every now and then, but kids will often learn to expect a treat every time, which in turn, becomes bribery. It's important to teach kids from an early age that life is not like that in the real world. We are shaping their own set of expectations from day one.

What are some of the ways you have successfully prevented or dealt with a public meltdown?

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