It can be very challenging leaving your home, a store, or the park with a toddler. When it’s time to leave toddlers become extra playful and wild or throw a tantrum. If you have a toddler or preschooler, you know just what I’m talking about.
Just remember, throwing a tantrum or getting out of control when it’s time to leave is just another stage of the two’s and three’s. Every age and stage has it’s challenges, but threenagers are no joke! My son is 3 and I’ve found 3’s can be especially challenging. Three year olds are learning to voice there wants and opinions and be in control. With that in mind, it’s important to keep some tricks up your sleeve when it’s time to head out.
Here are 9 ways on how to leave without a tantrum.
I tried to put a list together on different approaches to leave places with a three year old. Each situation is different so try to determine what the best fit is for your circumstances. Also, always try to switch it up.
- Give a time warning. This is the first approach I would take with a two or three year old when it’s time to go. Give children a time warning. “You have 5 more minutes left at the park. Three more minutes left. You have one more minute left. Do you want to go down the slide one more time?” As we know this doesn’t always help, especially once your child has turned three.
- Let them pick 1 more activity before leaving. This idea goes hand in hand with telling your child how many minutes they have left. Since children this age don’t exactly understand time try having them choose one more activity before they leave. For example, when my son knows it’s time to leave the pool he will say, “I’m going to jump in two more times and then get out.” or “I want to dive for 4 more sinking toys and then get out.”
- Have them help. If we are leaving school or a store, I will try to have my son help me. Toddlers are usually happy to help and if they’re busy helping then they’re less likely to put up a fight or be silly when it’s time to leave. Distraction is key. For example, “I have a lot of things to carry, can you help me hold your backpack?” or “It’s so windy, can you hold on tight to the grocery receipt on our way to the car?”.
- Tell them what to look forward to. Sometimes I’ll try to tell my son secretly what to look forward to where ever we’re going next. If you do it secretly it’s more exciting. For example, in my best secretive voice, “When we get home we’re going to dive for shark toys in the pool!” or “I have the science experiment all set up for us in your playroom!” Again try distracting him and give him a good reason to stick with you and head to the car.
- Play a game as you go. One of the most effective ways to leave lately for me, is offer to play a game with my son. For example, if I need to leave the house, even to walk my dog, it can often mean a whining battle. I try to combat the whining no’s with, “How about we play a game of Find It?” For example, as we walk the neighborhood we will decide on different things to look for, find 2 red cars and 3 blue signs. This way, he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on playing. The walk becomes about playing with my son and not about walking our dog. He also loves playing imaginary games such as pet shop, doctor, pool party, veterinarian, etc… The ideas are endless! If I suggest imaginary play he’s usually game for anything. Try to be creative to come up with games and variations.
- Play a game on the way to the car. Along with game playing. Try, “Lets skip, gallop, or hop to the car.” Now instead of him trying to play, “come chase me,” we’re skipping to the car together. Maybe even suggest a piggy back ride. You can save this one for a “special” occasion.
- Give him choices. Another idea is to give him choices. This suggestion fits well for walks again, but you can apply it in other situations too. My husband and I really enjoy the outdoors and going for family walks, but this isn’t always on my son’s agenda. We give him choices, “Do you want to ride your bike or collect leaves in your bucket?” Or options on what to wear, “Do you want to wear your hat or sunglasses?”
- Offer a snack. Who isn’t hungry after burning off a bunch of energy at the park? My son loves food, so it’s not surprising that a snack seems like a good option if we have to leave his favorite place. Both him and I have usually have built up an appetite when it’s time to go. Having a snack on our way home makes leaving the park a little easier.
- Tell them how it is. Lastly, I’ve been using logic recently with my son… I know logic with a three year old, sounds a little far fetched right? Worth a try though… Recently, explaining the reason why we should leave the pool, in a positive way, has been working with my son. So, using an explanation may work for a particular activity for you and your child. I’ll explain to my son, “It’s never fun to leave the pool! I don’t want to leave either.” I empathize with him. “But, if you whine and cry when it’s time to get out I won’t want to take you in tomorrow.” On the other hand, I explain, if you say, “Thank you for taking me in Mommy. I had such a fun time!” then I will want to take you in the pool again tomorrow. I usually have him repeat the words, so he can learn through practice how to show gratitude and model the way I’d like him to leave the pool. So far, it’s been very successful with this particular activity and I’ve been able to hold up my end of the deal by taking him in the pool more often. It truly is more pleasant taking him in the pool knowing he won’t have a tantrum when it’s time to get out. I usually remind him before we get out of the pool how we should leave the pool without whining so we can go in again tomorrow. This can be used for other fun places you visit such as the park or a friend’s house.
The great thing about the ideas I mentioned above is that it is really a win, win! You can leave when it’s time, without a struggle from your toddler and your toddler leaves happy too. Of course he’ll still have his moments, but these ideas have been a big help! Just remember (like I try to remind myself) the threes are just another stage. Just think soon we will have forgotten this stage, and be on to the next one 😉
I hope you find these ideas helpful with your toddler.
What are your tricks to leave without a tantrum?
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- How Children Learn From Parents: Making Daily Interactions Meaningful
- Chores for Toddlers can be Entertaining and Rewarding!
- Sandbox Toys for Toddler Entertainment, Exchanging Sandbox Toys