How to Deal With Your Child Screaming in Public


Inevitably, there comes a time in a parent’s life when this happens: you’re at the store, looking for groceries, pass the toys or sweets section and your child asks for a treat. You explain him or her in a nice and calm way that you can’t buy it, and the screaming tantrum begins. What do you do then?

child screaming in public

Child Screaming in Public

I gathered below a few pieces of advice on what would be advisable when child screaming in public, mostly in the supermarket:

1. Don’t buy them the desired object. This kind of behavior would feed itself from a parent’s fear of public embarrassment or, it may be that your child is just tired and looking for a way to draw your attention.

2. Do your best in keeping composure and showing patience and love. Bear in mind that your child has not yet developed ways to communicate, lacks control or coping mechanisms. She entirely relies on you to learn how to react to frustration, anger, etc. Their purpose isn’t to annoy you; this is just another step in discovering the world.

3. Consider leaving the store. The child may notice your embarrassment and only aggravate the behavior.

4. Once you are out of the store, try figuring out what is the real reason behind her behavior. Talk to your child as an equal, look into her eyes, give her a tight hug and explain in a calm voice why this kind of behavior is not acceptable. Explain the consequences if this would happen again (parents start going to the store without her, doesn’t get the toy etc.).

Because most of the times, prevention is healthier than dealing with the situation when it occurs, I have added some recommendations to follow before entering a store:

1. Build with your child a list of expected behaviors in a store (which you should repeat before entering). Examples include: we keep our voice low, we don’t touch the merchandise, etc.

2. Adding to that list, is creating an if-then scenario. If you start crying, whining etc., this will happen… Keep your word in taking away his toy, game (whatever the “effect” is) otherwise, she might think this is an acceptable behavior.

I read a comment on Quora about this topic, a wonderful example: A father was shopping with his child and the child was asking for candies. When the father said no, the child started screaming, kicking and crying. The father left the groceries and hugged the child tight. After a few minutes, her behavior turned into crying until stopped completely.

That is one of the most beautiful examples I have read, about a parent showing unconditional love to his child even in a time of anger. How do you deal with your child screaming in public?

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  • Reply Julie April 29, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    These are great tips! It is important to remember to stay calm because getting frazzled will escalate the problem.

  • Reply Janine Huldie April 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Great tips and yes have totally been there int he past with both my girls and agree with dealing with when it happens by removing them from the store first and foremost.

    • Reply Marina May 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Yes, I believe that is the best way to go. My daughter will soon be two, I think shopping tantrums will be like a daily routine to us. 😀

  • Reply Sarah Christie April 29, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Great tips, my two are older now and through this but I remember it so well, I totally agree don’t feed the behaviour and set expectations and it soon stops x

  • Reply Lauren April 29, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    great list!!

  • Reply Jamie April 29, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I used to get so embarrassed as a new parent…but 17 years later…with a grumpy 2 year old…I just let it roll off my back! Shake it off!! 😉

    • Reply Marina May 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      That is a great tip. When this first happened, I was so embarrassed, my face was so red!! I need to change my mindset to not be embarrassed about this!

  • Reply Aspen Jay April 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Oh boy do I have a screamer on my hands! I’ve had to leave a store completely a time or two due to it. I have found the ‘hug’ method to work well.

    • Reply Marina May 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Hug method sounds awesome! I think I will use it all the time 🙂

  • Reply claudia aguilar April 30, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I know I’ll need this sooner or later!

  • Reply Shannon Peterson April 30, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I know I’ll need this eventually! Right now, baby wearing saves me so much!

  • Reply Ashley May 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

    I love that example. I think the only other thing to add is that everyone has been there. So stay calm, and remember, you’re not alone. Great tips!

    • Reply Marina May 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      I think it’s hard to remember you’re not alone when that is happening – especially because everyone is looking your way!

  • Reply Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom May 1, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I love the example you shared of the dad. I get agitated when my child freaks but I try to stay as calm as possible. Speaking in a hushed calm voice usually does the trick. Although I once bailed from a store because I just didn’t want to engage in that behaviour and obviously that wasn’t the best time for my child to be out and about.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Marina May 3, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      I am also trying to stay calm, but sometimes is just too hard. I also love the hug method and I think I will try it next time 🙂

  • Reply Herchel A Scruggs May 4, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Definitely been there. I’ve had to leave Target twice because of tantrums–once for each child. I agree with all of your tips. Sometimes, the stimulation is just too much for threenagers!

  • Reply Natalie Busch May 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Such a great list. This is advice that anyone with young children could glean from.

  • Reply ShootingStarsMag September 28, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    All great ideas. I have two nieces and a nephew, so I definitely know about public meltdowns. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Debbie September 29, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Hi Marina, great tips, but will I get stoned if I say that I honestly can’t remember either of my two having a public meltdown?…. The secret was never taking them out in public or having a really bad memory!… Joking aside I’m not sure how we managed it, but I do thank my lucky stars as I would probably have reacted in a similar fashion!


  • Reply Sonya October 6, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Great tips!!! You definitely don’t want to give in to a screaming child.

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