Nightmares Before Christmas: Avoiding Holiday Tantrums

Mall Meltdowns

Your kid's never loved going shopping, and now that you've got a million gifts to buy, he's whinier than ever.

Prevention pointers: You know the drill. Plan to hit the stores when your child is well rested and well fed, and bring toys and books to keep him entertained. Make sure you don't get so focused on your shopping list that you barely talk to him, since he's more likely to get cranky if he feels ignored. And prepare to be extra-vigilant -- when kids are bored they're more likely to wander off the moment they spot something that interests them, like the mall's huge holiday decorations.

Fast fix: When the crying starts, get some fresh air or take a rest in the food court for a few minutes. "Have a snack or sing a song, and give yourselves some time to regroup," says Dr. Panaccione. But if your kid is truly unhappy, head home.

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