How to deal with a toddler tantrum *in public, of epic proportions

Today was my worst parenting day to date.

On the plus, this means the probabilities of tomorrow being just as bad are very slim. It also means I get to share my lovely experience with you all, and hopefully prepare the future toddler owners amongst you. Also anyone that has been through similar can nod along with me and if you are so obliged, comment below to make me feel better.

Take heed of the ‘sign’

Thinking about it, things didn’t seem right from the outset. Toddler woke me up with a whining noise. I tried to ignore it, with a cheery “Good morning darling!!!” Toddler responded with another whine. And then another. “Oh come on give me a big cuddle!” I said, to which she reciprocated. I forgot about the whine. Until reflecting upon it at the end of a numbingly horrible day. It wasn’t a whine. It was a SIGN.

A sign that, in exactly 8 hours time I would be bawling my eyes out in the street, whilst another mother looked on, open mouthed with shock. If someone had told me that, I would not have gone out the house. I would have set up with Mr Tumble and all the other CBeebies crew (with Sooty, Sweep and Soo on DVD to break things up a bit) and not got us out of our pyjamas. But today was to be my first big toddler hurdle.

On reflection I wouldn’t change anything I did (apart from go out in the house in the first place). So, knowledge is power. I have lost my dignity in front of the general public all in the name of research.

Please note: in the lead up to this tale was a challenging morning, you know, the usual: toddler trying to pull the baby’s legs off, eating soil from the plant pot, ripping up the post before I have opened it…the plan was to “get out”. It was a good plan. A safe plan. It would make everyone happy.

Once upon a time…

Tale of a Toddler Tantrum *of epic proportions

The setting: a small village park with slides, see saw and swings.

Cast: Mummy (me); Baby, Toddler; Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe; Curtain Twitcher; Hero-Mum; Mum-With-Family.

Act 1

Toddler has been playing in the park for half an hour. It’s time to go to the clinic a few metres down the road to get the baby weighed (there is a playgroup running for toddlers at the same time).

Mummy: It’s time to go now. We’re going to play with lots of lovely toys inside! Would you like that?

Toddler: NO.

Act 2

Toddler is continuing on play equipment, satisfied that her “no” has put an end to that, thank you very much. I approach again.

Mummy: Ok, after you have been on that slide, we are going. Last time.

Toddler stays at the top of the slide.

Act 3

Having coerced toddler down the slide, I try to hold her hand. Toddler squirms free. Toddler is now zooming from slide to see-saw, to swings, like a wasp swatted at a picnic. She knows the fight is on. I attempt contact again and describe to toddler how wonderful the haven of indoor toys is.

Toddler: NO!!!!!!

Act 4

Toddler runs away to the other side of the park, towards the gate on the main road. Baby and I race after her. Toddler has odd expression on her face: she’s not finding it funny anymore. The heat is on. I grab toddler and try to pick her up, jovially.

Mummy: “Come on, silly!”

Act 5

I have been kicked in shins several times but we made it to the gate of the park, whilst carrying toddler with one arm and pushing baby in pram. So far tantrum level is normal. It should stop once we get outside the gate; once toddler knows we are really leaving the park.

Act 6

Toddler is blocking the pavement, lying on the floor, eating gravel and screaming. Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe approaches, so I politely peel my child off the floor to allow him to pass, gently replacing toddler on her feet. I catch his eye: is he judging me or sympathising? Neither – I think he just wants to pass safely. My daughter immediately crumples to the floor and increases the decibels of screaming. I glance at the bungalow opposite. A curtain twitches.

Act 7

I have now never seen anything like this, and yes, we have had a tantrum before. I decide it is still best to walk the few metres down the road so that when toddler sees what a beautiful world I have led her to (one of glitter play-doh, shredded paper, dribble covered sticklebricks and dollies with no hair…), she will be fine and will also understand why I wanted her to leave the park. It’s not simply because I am a horrid kill-joy.

Act 8

Toddler starts walking beside the pram. Progress!!! At last – off we go.

Act 9

Toddler is still screaming – whilst walking! She appears to be going slightly mad. Confirmed when she takes a quick turn into the road with a car approaching.

Act 10

After deserting baby (and apologising to Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe who has turned back and now has his pathway blocked by my buggy) and rescuing toddler from car, the aim has now changed. I need to get us back to the car: it’s the safest option.

Act 11

Trying to carry toddler in rage whilst pushing pram with other hand. Her coat is pulled off and she slides on the floor. I am mortified – this must look so bad. There are health visitors at the clinic – what if one reports me for this upset? 

Act 12

I pull toddler aside and ask her to sit down and have a drink. She screams LOUDER! A woman with a baby approaches me:

Hero-Mum: Would you like any help? I can take your baby then you carry the toddler?

Mummy: turns to Hero-Mum with intention to say “thank you so much” but ends up bursting into tears.

Act 13

Toddler and I are now bawling our eyes out in the street.

Act 14

Hero-Mum pushes baby back to my car. Toddler and I follow, crying uncontrollably. We pass a Mum-with-Family. She does not hide her shock: her mouth is wide open like she has never seen anything like it before.

Act 15

I hug random act of kindness stranger Hero-Mum. She quickly gets back into her car.

I don’t blame her.

Act 16

In railway station carpark, sipping lucazade, surveying my puffy red face and texting any friends that will understand, whilst the children are asleep.

Act 17

Home with tea and (x5) biscuits.

Act 18


Act 19

Bathtime (5.30pm). Story (6pm). Bed (6.30pm)

Act 20



(PS. Thank you, Hero-Mum of South Brent.)





7 thoughts on “How to deal with a toddler tantrum *in public, of epic proportions

  1. Thank you for sharing, well done for surviving and thank goodness for hero mum!

    We dared to approach the play area at Pennywell farm the other week when 19 mo daughter was already very tired (first visit with her walking round on her own…on reigns!) currently obsessed with slides, 1 go was never going to satisfy her and I ended up scraping her up out of soft wood chipping surface, mid tantrum, trying to explain she was tired and we needed to go. Kicking, crying and hitting, I somehow carried her away, barely making eye contact with others and made our getaway! Asleep in car within 5 minutes! Thank goodness! The drive home is only 25 minutes…seriously not long enough for a child who regularly sleeps 1.5-2 hrs in the afternoon…I carried on driving!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha I don’t blame you carrying on driving! Thank you for sharing your story Liz it’s good to know we are in it together. I was thinking of Pennywell the other day but not sure I want to brave it on my own with them both…last time we went toddler ‘collected’ the chicken eggs, ie. dropped them all on the floor and wanted to stay on the tractor when we had to go. If I remember I carry chocolate buttons in my pocket for bribery- a bit like having a dog. Obviously had an empty pocket yesterday though!! Thanks for reading xx


  2. Oh noooooo…. Tis indeed the most dreadful tale of woe!! I really do feel for you, sometimes just a random act of kindness is enough to push us over the edge and the tears come flowing… I don’t know who these toddlers think they are, I think we need to set up toddler reform school asap!!!! I once had a terrible incident at a music group. I thought my littlest had gone to get a drink while I was paying-which is what he usually did. But instead of doing that, he rugby tackled a little girl and bite her on the face… The mum went absolutely mental at me-she literally silenced the room with her shouting, and everyone was staring at me-I wanted to die… When it came to leaving, my eldest had the hugest meltdown, requiring 2 members of the groups staff to help me pin him into the pushchair. When I got home, I burst into tears-and was telling the man painting our house all about it… He was really sweet though!! I still remember that day and shudder, and feel quite sick… Well you survived! I’m sure the wine has put everything into perspective, and today will be a better day!!!!! Xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Lucy! Goodness your tale of woe is awful too, I feel for you then! It’s always unfair if the mother takes the blame (like the recent John Lewis tantrum in the news) – most of the time we just cannot control these little people! I also find that my daughter has a very different personality to me, fiesty and determined (as opposed to my quieter nature-I hate arguments) which perhaps doesn’t help either of us. Thanks for sharing your story and for the ghost hugs!! ☺️ next time you have a hideous day – I’m here! Xx


      • Ps. She couldn’t have been more adorable today if she’d tried. Beautiful behaviour and so many hugs for me. Held my hand voluntarily when we went for a walk!!!


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