I hate taking my kids out when they are grumpy. Honestly, if I can see that they are in a foul mood we try not to venture out at all. Why reward them if they are grumps anyway? And I surely don’t want to deal with their temper tantrums that are bound to occur when they are in that state of mind. But all my avoiding bad mood outings can’t prevent the occasional temper flare while out in public. Every parent deals with them, and all of us can agree they are frustrating, slightly embarrassing, loud, and are the cause of many headaches. As hard as it is, I have to keep my cool. If I lose my temper and try to fight with a young child, I will lose. Sadly. So instead I keep my wits about me, speak calmly, and deal with it low-key (at least until we get home). If we are in a grocery store, I give one warning. Stop acting silly or we will leave. Then I stick to it. Once we are home, I don’t argue, or lecture, or spank.  However when my child asks me for something (a reward), whatever it may be, I say no. No to that TV show, no to that game, no to that fun toy, etc. Basic reward and punishment seems to work wonders.  Especially with those little ones who have a hard time reasoning.

    If I lose my temper and try to fight with a young child, I will lose

    I may sound mean, but that’s what seems to work. When they ask me why I said no, I remind them plainly, “I didn’t like how you acted while we were out.” Even my two year old son responds. He doesn’t understand my lectures, but gets it when I say, “No cookie because you threw a fit at the store.” He has learned to equate not getting what he wants when he does certain things. My four year old’s whining has almost disappeared. She knows that whining will get her brief TV time taken away. Or result in no walk to the park. Don’t get me wrong, they will still ask for candy in the check out lanes, but once I say no, they know better than to cry or whine in response. This works at home as well, if my son kicks his sister he doesn’t get whatever reward he asks for next. Throwing a toy? No cookie. Taking a toy without asking, no juice (water is better for them anyway). You get the idea. It’s such a simple technique and requires very little from you, except for the discipline and consistency to stick to your decisions (also see our Playdate article “Dealing with Tantrums“) .