Toddlers like control, and you can empower them by letting them choose certain things at the store. Dr. Brown suggests discussing those things up front before your errand. "Then they know that these are the things that they're going to be in control of for the day," she says.
Gerry Gordon recalls an incident with her daughter at the grocery store: "I was buying potatoes and my 2-year-old wanted to hold them. They were heavy, and I said no. She got very fussy and started to scream. I just ignored the fact that my toddler was causing a disturbance and walked out of the store. I later realized she just wanted to help Mommy. My advice: pack a bag small enough so they can help too. They love to help and be a part of whatever Mommy or Daddy is doing."
Yet what if the tantrum has already started? Dr. Brown says, "Tantrums and whining are not forms of communication, and if you respond to them, they become forms of communication—so you do not respond to them. Matter-of-factly say 'I see you're having a tantrum. That's not OK; let me know when you're done.' And you walk away."
Dr. Brown explains that a toddler having a tantrum and whining is seeking attention negatively, and if you respond with yelling, the toddler wins.
Is your toddler constantly trying to make deals with you that only benefit him? Turn the tables! Devise your own deals that include acceptable choices. For example, Dr. Brown says, "We need to get going today, you can choose: do you want to put your shoes on first or your hat on first? You can pick which one you want to do first." This way your toddler feels he is still in control and is getting a deal—and so are you!