Child Tantrums

Why are they a little angel at home but can turn into a nightmare as soon as he's at the supermarket? Kids and shopping rarely mix and it seems they always save the best tantrums for the most public of places.

Mother of three Bronwyn Tong, has a busy schedule at the best of times and has found getting simple yet necessary tasks like shopping done, became a war of attrition. " It was embarrassing and it was difficult for my older two who would stand there and I would get frustrated by his tantrum and they would feel my frustration as well. I would go right, I need to do a big shop. I'd have all the three kids and not at the most convenient time but it was something that needed to be done but the tantrums were embarrassing" said Bronwyn.

Bronwyn has just taken part in a world first trial in helping parents dealing with children's shopping tantrums. " I would love to say yes, 100 percent cured and I have perfect children but its not the case. We have many more better days than bad days. If you think about shopping from a child's point of view, its not exactly a fun thing to do to be dragged around 20 aisles a huge distance when your parents not talking to you".

University of Queensland Professor Alan Ralph runs the Triple P- Positive Parenting Program- and says while many believe tantrums are part of a child growing up, they don't have to be and most problems can be avoided depending on what parents do. "Over time, the confidence that parents had seems to have dissipated and parents these days are not confident about what to do when faced with something like a tantrum and so they fall back on the old method shouting and yelling or smacking the child which is now no longer accepted" said Professor Ralph.

Nor does it work. Professor Ralph says the best way to prevent a tantrum is be prepared for them. " If you know you are going to have difficulty taking the child shopping, the real thing is to plan it in advance and to ask yourself what can I do to make this experience more enjoyable with my child? First prepare them for the trip. Let them know what you are doing and explain the rules. Make sure they know what is expected." "Rohy listen, we're just going to do a little bit of shopping. No monster faces and at the end we have a treat. Does that sound alright little bit of shopping not lots of shopping" said Bronwyn.

Like most men, children too find shopping extremely tedious and boring. So spice it up a little. Communicate and engage. "Ok Rohy, we are going to go down this aisle and look for something that's blue is this blue is this blue". When they start to get restless be ready with a distraction.

"You are being such a good boy. Do you want your car now? Mummy's got your car now you've been such a good boy. Tip truck, you play with your tip truck". Praise and reward good behavior."There you go all done. Now you've been such a good boy. Now we'll go home and read wheels on the bus book you've such a good boy".

Professor Ralph says children even as young as two, are more perceptive and open to communication then most of us give them credit for. "The course is really designed for lots of situations that carry a high risk for parents. You know things are going ok at home but as soon as you go out they perform" said Professor Ralph. "I think I am much more tolerant of what they would like to do and the fact they can only walk so fast and they have only a limited attention span to sit in a trolley" said Bronwyn.

For Bronwyn, she says while participating in the trial hasn't cured all her problems, its certainly helped her and her children. "The thing is if it decreases my stress levels, then that helps with the kids behaviour as well".

The Positive Parenting Program is in the process of developing a course for parents who have trouble shopping with their kids and it will be available in the near future for more information go to their website at www.triplep.net