Could toddler tantrums in Wisbech town centre become a thing of the past?

Horsefair shopping centre, Wisbech has taken advice from a child psychologist to help shoppers deal

Horsefair shopping centre, Wisbech has taken advice from a child psychologist to help shoppers deal with temper tantrums - Credit: Archant

Toddler temper tantrums while shopping could be a thing of a the past in Wisbech if tips from a child psychologist help ease mini meltdowns.

TV’s Dr Sam Wass has worked with NewRiver, that manages the Horsefair Shopping Centre, to offer advice on how to cope.

Dr Wass, who appears in Channel 4’s The Secret Life of Four Year Olds, said: “Most children throw tantrums at some point, but of all the times when they might misbehave, shopping is one of the most common.

“Children tend to be more up and down in their moods than adults and more affected by moving from a calm environment to a stressful one,” she said.

“Shops tend to be full of unfamiliar people and can be quite unstructured and unpredictable. Children can feel they have no control over what happens next which can cause anxiety.

“A quarter of UK parents confess to using sweets and other bribery tactics but this can be counter-productive.

“The more presents you buy, the more presents or treats they ask for. This might calm a child in the short term but in the long term can lead to further oppositional behaviours and naughtiness.

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“Instead of costly gifts, try buying healthy snacks.”

Other advice includes:

• Give your child a clock or timer to help them feel in control. Agree a time limit for being in the shop,

• Give your child a shopping checklist to tick off, understanding that once the list is complete it’s time to go.

• Ask your child to help find items they like.

• Plan regular breaks with intervals of play or refreshments.

• Offer rewards for good behaviour - most effective when they are predictable, consistent and the child can see them coming in advance.

• Look for early warning signs and pre-empt the problem with a break or healthy snack.

NewRiver is developing a Kids Club and as part of that will train security teams in ‘tantrum taming’ as well as launching treasure trails, free play areas and children’s activities.

Dave King, centre manager at The Horsefair Shopping Centre, said: “Most of us have experienced our kids having a meltdown or felt the pain of other parents struggle to keep their toddler happy while shopping.

“We’ve been working with Sam to come up with tactics to make shopping more fun for small children. Our Kids Club will offer free events for children throughout the year, special offers for parents who sign up, and a ‘child safe’ scheme giving parents peace of mind when out shopping.”

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