The first time my son threw a tantrum about leaving a store, I was so thrown off guard I reacted in the only way I knew how. Red-faced, I picked him up and carried him kicking and screaming through the store. In the car, he continued this tantrum. My sweet little boy! What happened? I have to be honest, I didn’t calmly talk him down from his perch. I took his tantrum and raised it a level. Not smart. Don’t join the natives! 🙂
After picking up a few tips and tricks from my mommy friends, we finally learned how to leave a park (or anywhere else) without tantrums, tears & screams.
Here’s what to do:
- Have a schedule for your day and share it with your child. They need to have something to look forward to!
- Have a reason to leave. If your child has a hard time leaving a park, leave lunch and snacks at home. This is a good incentive (not bribery) to leave. “Now we can go home and have lunch!” (note: never make a nap the incentive, that only works for moms or dads! :)) (Bribery would be, “If you will stop screaming I will buy this for you or give you a piece of candy.” That, moms & dads, is training them to scream.)
- Remind them before you get to the park that you are staying for a set amount of time. “After the park, we will do _______.”
- Give them a 5 minute alert before you are going to leave. This helps them to adjust to what will be happening and prepare emotionally. Yanking them mid-way through building a sand-castle would be tough for anyone!
- Meanwhile, gather all the items so you are able to hit the road quickly. Standing around will only give them more time to work up a good tantrum.
- Tell them firmly, “it is time to go! We are going to do _________ now.” Don’t make excuses or beg them.
- If they start to lose it, the one thing I would say to them would be, “if we can’t leave nicely, we won’t be able to come back.”
- If they do a full-out tantrum, keep your cool, ignore the tantrum. No attention for the misbehavior. And keep your word about not returning to that park the next normal time you would go.
- If they handle themselves well, praise them for how nicely they left the park. Add an extra park day (or another small perk) because you are so proud of them. Nothing beats positive affirmation.
This worked wonders for my kids! I hope it does for yours as well!
Have a happy summer,