Child behaviour expert shares ‘mistake’ to avoid when kids have tantrums at supermarket

Parenting coach and child behaviour expert Elizabeth O’Shea joined Courtney Pochin for a Facebook Live on Mirror Mums, sharing advice for dealing with tantrums and kids lashing out

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare…

You are nipping around the supermarket, stocking up on all your essentials for the week, when suddenly, your child is on the floor of the sweet aisle, kicking and screaming at the top of their lungs because they want something and you’ve said no.

Every other shopper is staring pityingly at you and you wish the ground would swallow you whole so you could avoid their gazes.

Your child isn’t having any of it and nothing you say seems to calm them down, so you’re tempted to just given in to what they want if it will shut them up.

But according to child behaviour expert, Elizabeth O’Shea from Parent 4 Success, this would be the biggest mistake a mum or dad could make in this situation.

Speaking to Mirror Mums during a Facebook Live, Elizabeth, a mum-of-four, explained: “If they have a tantrum, you have to say ‘Oh what a shame, we might have been able to get that but now you’ve had a tantrum we can’t do it, just in case that’s the way you think you can get what you want’.

“Never, never give them what they want. If you give in, you are feeding that tantrum and it will happen again next time as the child thinks I just need to escalate my behaviour and make it worse and worse until mummy gives me what I want – not a good lesson.”

She continued to share the importance of instead staying calm when they are kicking off, despite the circumstances: “When everybody is watching, that is the hardest time to stay calm as it’s just so embarrassing, so preventing a tantrum would be much better than dealing with it.

“If you know your child tends to have tantrums, talk to them beforehand say ‘We’re gonna go to the shops later when we go what will you need to do? How will you remember to stay close to the trolley? If you pass the sweets what’s the rule? So will we be buying sweets? No, that’s right. If you’re really good in the supermarket what can you eat on the way home?’

“So you preempt it and just before you enter the supermarket, spend half a minute just doing it again, then when they’re in there that’s going to be in the front of their mind so they’re less likely to have a tantrum.

“But just say you have your child in the sweet aisle, lying down crying, in that moment, stay calm and empathise, saying ‘You would really love to get some sweets, it’s so hard not getting sweets today, I get that’.

“Keep going for a couple of minutes, even up to two minutes, then just sit by your child. Don’t walk off, because all that means is ‘I can’t deal with your bad behaviour’ and the child thinks that you’re not there for them.

“They’ll get up and they’ll follow you but they won’t learn the lesson, which is that I can help you calm down here then we will carry on the shopping but don’t give them what they wanted.”

Elizabeth is a parenting coach, author, speaker, child behavioural expert and the director of Parent 4 Success, which she set up eight years ago.

She is considered to be one of the leading parenting specialists in the UK and regularly appears on TV and Radio.

She has previously been on BBC Breakfast, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Sky News.

Elizabeth offers busy parents bespoke parenting courses using tried and tested effective methods, face-to-face or online.