Distraction beats anger

ONE OF THE MOST FRUSTRATING behaviours for an adult to cope with is a child’s tantrum, especially in a public place. They’re embarrassing for the adult, and the recourse is often to get more and more stern until you end up with a yelling, furious adult and a screaming child.

Tantrums may be a bad experience for adults, but they’re much worse for the child. Rather than trying to frighten them out of it, which rarely works, instead try distraction.

In a supermarket, you could point out an oddly-shaped vegetable, or an unusual variety of soup—or just make one up. “Hmm, potato and squashed lizard,” you might say. “I’m not sure I fancy that.” More often than not, the child will be so intrigued they’ll forget whatever was bothering them to come and take a look.

Nothing entertains and distracts a child more than an adult behaving in a silly way. Put a lettuce on your head or, in a restaurant, a napkin. Wear your glasses upside down. Keep missing your mouth with your fork. Get them laughing and they’ll forget to cry.


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