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How I Survived My Child's First Public Tantrum

Jessica, Chillicothe, OH; mom of Jada, 4, and Kobee, 2

Where it happened: In a department store. I went there with my kids, Kobee and Jada, then 6 months and 2, to buy Jada new summer clothes.

How it unfolded: Jada was excited to pick out some outfits. As we walked from the parking lot to the store, she asked if we could eat lunch at a fast-food restaurant nearby and I told her, "Maybe." She wasn't thrilled with my answer but seemed okay with it  -- until we got just inside the store entrance.

The tantrum: In a split second, she transformed into a ball of anger  -- there was no warning at all! She threw herself on the ground in the middle of the entrance, which was filled with people, and started to kick her feet and scream that she wanted to go for a hamburger. Everyone coming in and out of the store had to walk around her.

How I felt: Shocked, just shocked. I was too taken by surprise to even be embarrassed. She'd thrown some whopper tantrums at home, but never in public.

What I did: With Kobee in his carrier on the floor in between my legs, I bent over and tried to pry Jada off the floor. I somehow managed to keep my cool. I calmly repeated "No" about 20 times as I picked her up and carried her back to the car (she was in one arm, my baby in the other). We were about halfway there when one of her still-kicking feet got me right in the eye!

What happened next: She was still screaming when we got into the car, and the restaurant was just down the street, so I went to the drive-through and got her a burger. She calmed down right away. I know I shouldn't have given in, but it seemed like the only way to save my sanity.

The best thing I did: I stayed in control  -- I really didn't think I'd handle it that well. I was proud of myself.

The aftermath: Jada hasn't had another public meltdown since. But Kobee, now 2, throws tantrums all over town! I handle his differently  -- I try to prevent them by going out when he's not tired, and I always bring snacks. He usually starts whining and crying before reaching hysterics, so when this happens, I give him a choice: "If you calm down by the time I count to three, we can stay; otherwise, we're leaving." If he doesn't quiet down, I take him to the car to let it all out. I tell him that I know he was upset but that I can't help him until he behaves better.

Words of wisdom: Try to keep your wits about you  -- if you become angry, your kids will get even louder. And get out of there as fast as you can!