You’re in the grocery store with your child when he or she begins to fuss and throw a tantrum. Maybe they’re tired and want to go home or see something they want and can’t have. Either way, it’s embarrassing and you may not be sure what to do. How do you avoid these situations in the future?

Show That Actions Have Consequences

It’s important to teach children early on that actions have consequences. If your child loses self-control, have them take a time out. Explain why they are going into time out and be sure to talk to them after it’s over to reaffirm what happened and why. If you’re somewhere where time out isn’t feasible, like a restaurant, remove them from the situation and explain why they won’t be getting dessert.

When teaching your child that their actions have consequences, follow these essential rules:

Ignoring these rules will only make things worse by escalating the situation. Instead, be firm and to-the-point. Lead by example. If your child sees you lose control, they must know that it was wrong and you should have acted better.

Teach Them How to Recognize Their Feelings

Impress upon children that what they are feeling when they are upset is normal. However, in order to control themselves, they must be able to identify what they’re feeling. When children know what they are feeling and why, they can learn how to act appropriately when upset and be in better touch with themselves.

Reinforce Good Behavior

Give consistent, positive feedback when your child exhibits good behavior like remaining calm in a situation where they might have otherwise lost control. Consistency lets children know where you stand and won’t have to test you. While criticism can be healthy, it must be balanced and appropriate to the situation at hand.

For example, teach children early on about how to look critically at their actions in order to improve upon themselves in the future. Reward good behavior with praise and phrases like, “I’m very impressed by how you handled that situation.”

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