How to handle toddler tantrums?

My four-year-old is having tantrums, and I don’t know how to stop them. Advice? Today was the first time I have EVER had to drag my daughter out of a store. She wanted a book, but I said no because she was acting up while shopping. When we got to check out, she was crying and screaming (on top of her lungs) so, I had my husband finish up because trying to diffuse the situation wasn’t working. While we went towards the exit, she attacked me! Full-on kicking, screaming, scratching, and pulling my hair. She has never done this in public. She never does this at home. She’s usually really good when we’re out, and I don’t know why today was different. I’m so humiliated. I cried the whole way home because I was so embarrassed. All the way home, she screamed, kicked, threw things, etc. She told me she hated me, was going to scratch me, she was going to run away, etc. I don’t know why she’s doing this. Please help!

4 year old have tantrums sometimes. Mine recently had one about getting his 4 year vaccinations. He yelled at me, in front of everyone about how I made him get his shots and he didn’t want them. I let him. His feelings are valid. When he and I were both calm again, we talked about it.

I didn’t want to comment on the Facebook post about this because of all the comments condoning spanking/“whooping ass”… nope, wrong answer.

In your daughter’s case, she was communicating her frustration that she couldn’t get the book. She was wrong to communicate it in that way, but she is still learning and you are her teacher! Show her how you resolve disagreements with love and empathy! Talk calmly with her about the reasons she couldn’t get the book and why her behavior was not okay.

Discuss better ways she could express her frustration the next time she is feeling so angry. Throw in some silly ideas, like “could I knock down this entire shelf of toys in the store?! No, that would be REALLY heavy, right?! And it would make such a big mess!” Then give reasonable reactions, like, “maybe next time we’re feeling angry, we can try to name our feelings and let mommy know that we’re feeling that way. Then mommy can help you with those feelings. I could do deep breaths with you, we could count to 10, or name three things we can see.” When she is calm again, talk it out with the reasons she can’t have or do something. Encourage healthy ways of showing frustration with modeling and verbalize it, saying things like, “mommy is really angry right now! I’m going to take a deep breath and count to 10 to try to feel better.”

I hope this helps. I can tell that you were really upset by this event in the store. What anyone else thinks of you as a parent or your daughter as a child does not matter. Maybe she was tired and couldn’t use her usual skills to show her feelings. She probably won’t be able to tell you exactly what was going on, but try to get some words of how she was feeling beside that she wanted the book. I’m sure there was something else going on too.