What do you do when your terrible 2 has a meltdown in public??

United States
February 12, 2007 10:39am CST
Last week we were in Walmart. They were giving cookie samples so I let my 2 year old have a peanut butter cookie, her favorite. After she finished it, I tried to clean her hands and face, but she was not having any of that. She started screaming "cookie, cookie", "I want cookie..now!!". I told her that she could not have any more and she went nuts. Total meltdown. Crying, kicking, trying to hit me. I pushed the cart a little away from me so she could not kick me. Then I just stood there looking at her. A few times I asked if she was finished having her fit. A few times she yelled "NO, not finished", then she screamed and cryed louder!!After a few more minutes, I looked at her with a mean face and said "that's enough, knock it off now". The crying got quieter, but did not stop. I actually had to buy a small package of cookies at the check out. I never reward bad behavior, but I was getting worried that she was crying so much. It was getting close to lunch time and I knew she was getting hungry. We rused home and she a ate lunch. What would you have done differently???
8 people like this
30 responses
@apky12 (775)
• United States
13 Feb 07
I think that was a good response on your part. The only thing I would've done differently is I probably would've picked my son up, strapped him in the cart and checked out right there. I also have done two other things. If my son is throwing a full fledged fit (I have 2 of them that could do this at any time) and it's outside where I can't get a handle on the situation and it might be dangerous I tell him if he gets up and stops screaming and acts like a good boy he gets a treat. That seems to work a lot of the time. I feel like I'm not really rewarding bad behavior. I'm rewarding him straightening up and getting out of the bad behavior. The other thing I have done is sometimes I start walking away. I won't let him leave my sight though. Sometimes that works and sometimes it just makes them angrier.
• United States
12 Feb 07
You HAD to buy cookies? No, you did not. You chose to buy cookies. Had that been my daughter I'd have taken her out of the cart and we'd have left and gone home immediately. Temper tantrums do NOT get rewarded. Your daughter had a fit because she wanted cookies...you bought her cookies. What did she learn? Fits get you what you want.
1 person likes this
@shaz6611 (951)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Must say I have to agree with this, all your daughter learned was that if she throws a fit, in the end I will get my own way.
• United States
13 Feb 07
I agree with this. We've left the store with a whole cart full of stuff before (only once). They got the hint real fast that their behavior was way out of bounds.
• United States
12 Feb 07
The first time my kid had a fit in the store I took him into the bathroom and spanked him. It has never happened again! If you don' believe in spanking, then take them out of the store and take away any priviledges for the rest of day.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
I TOTALLY agree with a direct approach!
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Feb 07
I have been through a simular situation with my daughter. It was close to christmas and we were looking at a barbie laptop for her. She seen us looking at it and started throwing a fit about wanting it. Crying, screaming and even some bad words came out. We did not purchase it and took her out of the store right away. We later went to the store without her and got it but did not give it to her untill christmas which was about 2 weeks later. This is not the first time, before that incedent, I have had to leave a store with here. We were in a checkout line at walmart and she started throwing a fit about something and she just would not stop. I left the full cart there and walked out of the store with her. Personally if it was me, I would have taken her out of the store imediatly and done my shopping later. As soon as we got home, she would have sat in time-out while I prepared her lunch. I certainly would have NEVER bought her a package of cookies right after a fit like that. That's showing her that she will get whatever she wants by throwing a fit, that's not right. You need to stand up to your daughter NOW so she doesnt walk all over you later. At 2 and 3 years old, she is going to be testing you very hard to see what she can and cant get away with. If you let her get away with stuff like that now, it will only get worse. Good luck!
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
Have you ever watched "Charlie and the Choclate Factory"? If you're not careful, you're going to be raising a "Veruca Salt" child.
• Canada
12 Feb 07
actually me and my wife had a fight because of that. she told me that our 3 year old son went balistic because he want this certain toy in toys r' us and my wife told me she have to buy to stop him from making a scene. i told her that would be the last thing i would've done. she told me it's just a toy but i told her. yeah, it's just a toy for now. but as they grow, their wants change to something more expensive. you have to handle this kinds of things while you can.
1 person likes this
@DaEntity (122)
• United States
13 Feb 07
So very well said! As a kindergarten teacher I see this all the time. Kids yelling and screaming until they get their way with their parents. Then they try to do that with me, and they get a reality check, that stuff like that doesn't fly.
• United States
12 Feb 07
I probably would have used a snack in the diaper bag instead of buying the cookies, but we're on a tight budget. I would have started by letting her clean herself up, though - it's so fun for her to use the wipes that she forgets about more cookies.
1 person likes this
@shaz6611 (951)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
redirecting them is a great way to avoid any tantrums.
@cherhost (1073)
• United States
12 Feb 07
No I would not have done anything different. THe one thing I do which is bad... when we are in public and my 19month old does that I just give her something to eat right away. That way I can nip it in the bud. I usually bring a snack with me instead of buying more.
1 person likes this
@catjane (1036)
• United States
12 Feb 07
Cherhost, you are teaching your child that eating solvers problems, and you are right, it's not good! It could cause her to have eating prblems when she gets older and she will learn to control you with food. Try and use other forms of discipline like "time outs" to stop the behaviour other than treats.
1 person likes this
• Canada
13 Feb 07
It sounds like you handled it well. You didn't get mad at her, and you didn't get emotionally invovled - you calmly told her she needed to stop behaving this way and apologize. I may not have bought the cookies, or I may have - depends on the day. I think you did reward her apoligizing, not her tantrum. I would say that you may aant to reconsider your stance on never carrying snacks with you, as they can come in really handy. Growing kids can be very hungry all of a sudden, as you have seen.
@SageMother (2277)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I would have pulled the cart away from the bakery area, and not asked her if she was ready but told her I am going to wipe your face and you will be still or you will never have a cookie in the store again. If she had persisted then I would have removed her from the cart, removed her from the store and taken her home. She wouldn't be going back with me. She would have NEVER had a package of cookies at the check out stand either. You are allowing her to dictate what goes on so you need to assert your parental authority. She will be a total tyrant by the timie she is 3 if you don't put your foot down now.
@vmoore709 (1102)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I have heard of people "walking away" from the cart. Not going too far and always keeping an eye on it and just continuing to do what they were doing. I on the other hand keep going. I'll finish shopping, pay and go home. If I ignore it long enough it usually will stop.
1 person likes this
@Proj1423 (35)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I can't speak to experience because my little one is 3 months, but I love to read the responses because I'm nervous for when that time comes. First thing I'd do is walk away from the cookie lady as fast as I could! I think I would have tried distracting her with something else. If that didn't work I'd offer her a piece of fruit or some other healthy snack I would cary along. I'd tell her this is all we have and you can have it if you want. I hate seeing responses that try to tell her she handled this wrong. There is no wrong answer here. Every child is different. Maybe I'm stubborn, but I'll be darned if I'm walking out and leaving a full cart. To me, that is letting my child trample over me. I like the ideas about leaving the cart with an attendent, but I wouldn't leave. That teaches her that if she is in an unpleasant situation or gets bored, she can scream and be home in 10 minutes. I think it's fine that she bought the cookies after the tantrum stopped. I'd make sure that she understood that she is getting rewarded for calming down and continuing to shop. Because she was a good girl and apologized and asked politely, she could have the cookies. Buying the cookies and getting a sample are different things. She won't be able to enjoy her reward until after she gets home. The sample is immediate gratification. There are a hundred ways of approaching this situation and I'm looking forward to hearing them all.
• Canada
12 Feb 07
When my son was 2, he did that once a month. Total meltdown in the mall, grocery store.. you name it, he had a meltdown there. I left my cart(no matter what was in it) picked him up and walked out. I left and took him home. Later, when someone was available to watch him, I went back and finsihed my shopping. I have a no tolerance policy. You want to freak out in public.. you leave, end of story. That's how I could ahve handled it. I would have picked her up and left.
1 person likes this
@neonanda (344)
• India
12 Feb 07
well i would have give her another thing to eat or for playing
• United States
12 Feb 07
The first thing I do when my daughter starts up is I try to distract her with something to get her mind off of whatever has upset her. If that doesn't work I say to her this is not acceptable behavior. If she continues after that we leave the store that minute. I will leave the cart full of food if necessary. Personally it wouldn't have mattered how sweet my daughter behaved after the temper she would have never gotten whatever it was she wanted. I feel my daughter needs to learn that the word sorry doesn't fix every problem. But I will say this, you can only raise your chilren the way you raise your children every parent in the world thinks other parents do things wrong, you did the best you could at the given moment.
1 person likes this
@catjane (1036)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I've been in that situation and I know how you feel. I don't think there's alot you can do with a child having a tantrum, except to take them out of the store and put them in the car until the behaviour stops (never alone). I wouldn't have given in and bought the cookies. Your child now knows how to get her own way. You have to be firm and tell them that their behaviour is unnacceptable, mind you saying that to a 2 year old isn't that effective but it's a start. You could have told her that you will buy her some cookies and she can have them when you get home after she has lunch type of thing.
1 person likes this
@XxAngelxX (2832)
• Canada
13 Feb 07
It's very difficult when our children throw temper tantrums in public but we have to remember most parents have been there before. I would simply have picked her up and walked out of the store and returned later to do my shopping. Although this can be very annoying, it does get the point across. I would not have bought the cookies either, I'm sorry to say. I think basically your daughter ended up getting her own way in the end. I realize she probably was getting hungry if it was close to lunch time, but I still would not have bought the cookies. I'd have just taken her home.
• United States
13 Feb 07
This was the first time she ever behaved like that out of the house. I bought her the cookies because her meltdown had ended and she had been her sweet self for more than 15 minutes. She said sorry to me and ash asked for the cookies very nicely saying please. I rewarded her good behavior. I think if your child is older and very loud then, ok, take them away, but when it is a baby who is not loud and is only trying to get her point accross, I see no need to take them away. My son is 6 and he knows better. I never had to take him out of any place. I live 40 minutes from the store we were at and I am alone with her until next week. She needed milk and I refuse to leave and have to go back later. That would be showing her that she can make me do that and that she is in charge, which she is not.
• United States
13 Feb 07
I would not have bought the cookies for her at all. She was throwing her fit because that is what she wanted and you gabe in to her, what she learned was if she throws a fit long enough she will get what she wants. I would of asked her to stop one time and if she did not then I would calmly put my cart back and picked her up and taken her home. All it would take is a couple of times with doing this and she will learn that you will not tolerate any kind of fit throwing while out. My children learned after the first time of me doin this. We should never reward our children for misbehaving though.
• United States
13 Feb 07
I did not, nor do I ever reward bad behavior. The meltdown had ended and 15 minutes had passed with her acting like the sweet child she is. When we were checking out, she quietly asked me for cookies and I rewarded her changed, good behavior. But thank you for your oppinion.
• Philippines
13 Feb 07
She's still a kid and doesn't have much idea about what's right or wrong. You should have given her some cookies right away to keep her from having a public meltdown. Kids show what they feel in that manner, so it shouldn't have shocked you. She's really hungry or she just liked the taste of sweets. When she's grown up, you may want to ask her if she remembers anything in Walmart.
@DRoddy77 (1778)
• United States
13 Feb 07
if she did that then that would just teach her daughter that every time she is in a store and sees something she wants she can throw a tantrum and get it! It would just make the situation that much worse because she will throw a fit every time they go out anywhere!
@rainbow (6763)
13 Feb 07
I would have bribed her to behave by saying she could have "A" treat if she stopped screaming and calmed down or we'll see if you stop behaving this way. I would have then offered her a treat I prefered, smaller or healthier and given her the choice that or nothing explaining why I thought the cookes were a bad choice. If possible I would have made her wait until back in the car or after the next shop for her reward. If her behaviour improved until you left the shop where the paddy occured she would get a treat but not the one she wanted, otherwise she has won, she has to learn to conform and compromise, you get less screaming, she gets a treat for a lesson learned. I know not everyone will see it this way but sometimes you just have to give in before they make themselves ill. I started to do tiny steps towards this when Roo was 2 so that these situations become easier to control, now he's 3 and although he sulks once the bribe has been thrown down I can control him a lot easier. Let's face it we all like a treat out of the shopping after all!
@34momma (13895)
• United States
13 Feb 07
As a mother of three children and currently a 2yr old, i would not have any of that. my lil girl does not do that with me. i have this wonderful mother look that my mother passed down to me and when she sees that face knows momma is not playing games. even more so in public. i just lay down the rules before we leave the house and then again when we get to where we are going. don't touch anything don't ask for anything unless i ask would you like something. it works for me because i have never had my children have tantrum out in public.