Help! I usually do the shopping on Saturday while my wife has a well deserved rest. I take our 2 year old daughter and 4 year old son. The last few times we have been, my daughter throws a tantrum when I refuse to buy her sweets. This is embarrassing for my son and me as she lies on the floor in the middle of the aisle screaming until I pick her up and promise to buy her the sweets she wants. I don’t like to give in to her but what else can I do?
Mark, Norfolk, UK
CG: Tantrums are natural for this age group- sometimes referred to as The Terrible Twos. Children of this age experience a lot of autonomy (compared to their babyhood). They are exploring the world around them and naturally test the boundaries. All children need clear and consistent boundaries; it’s just that they don’t necessarily know they do. It is important you don’t give in to your daughter’s demands otherwise it is she who will be in control, not you. Buy her sweets by all means, but in your own time, not as a result of blackmail, which is what this is. Talk calmly and firmly to your daughter if she is having a tantrum. Explain why she can’t have the sweets (I assume there is a good reason and you are not simply exerting your control) then, if necessary, pick her up and leave the store. Once she has calmed down explain what she did wrong then move on from the subject. Assume she won’t do it again but if she does, stand your ground, as before. She will soon learn you will not be manipulated and that good behaviour is the way to earn a reward not a tantrum.