Stopping Temper Tantrums Before They Start

Scream Savers, p.2

Public behavior is an especially topical issue for today's dual-income couples. With time away from the office at a premium, many working parents are anxious to spend as much of that time as possible with their children. So they're taking kids into adult situations at a younger age, says Dr. Katz. Whether it's a quick trip to the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale's or a dinner party with friends, toddlers and preschoolers are now going almost everywhere that Mom and Dad go.

"We've seen a big increase in parents eating out with children," says Michael Mount, spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association in Washington, DC. "Both parents are working, and they want to be with their kids instead of having to spend time cooking dinner."

It's simply the law of averages: The more you take an independent-minded toddler out, the greater the odds of a full-on tantrum. And when you're in the awkward position of having to discipline in front of a crowd, it's easy to be struck with a form of parenting performance anxiety. "Sometimes parents are so worried about what others will think, they're afraid to exercise appropriate control," says Dr. Katz. That anxiety can turn into frustation -- and anger. Combine a frustrated child with a stressed-out parent, and you have a recipe for a two-way meltdown.

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