Toddler Tantrums in Restaurants Out of Boredom

Dear Dr. Laura,

I need suggestions. My husband and I are trying to really follow gentle parenting with our VERY strong willed two year old. One situation we are having trouble figuring out is how to curb his screaming. Mostly in restaurants. Just random high pitched screams. He'll do it in the car and also at dinner at home. We can't remove him from the restaurant because he looks at that as a reward. It happens out of boredom while waiting. We bring plenty of entertainment, but he'll sometimes exhaust those options and just decide he's done. There are no options to give at this point and I can tell him I won't let him scream until I'm blue in the face, but that doesn't stop him. Any ideas?

I hear how frustrating this is. I think you're finding out that we really can't ever control another human being. All we can do is help them WANT to cooperate. Your son sees no reason to sit in a restaurant being bored. He's two, and he wants to move. He may also be overstimulated, but since he does it at dinner at home also, he is probably bored. So he expresses his discontent in the only way he can, to get a response from you. Connecting with you should help extend the viability of the situation. And if you do 15 minutes of roughhousing with laughter before the restaurant or car, I bet that he will be able to handle it the situation for longer. But really, many two year olds simply can't sit for long. They are letting you know in the best way they can. I wish I had a different answer!

Good luck!
Dr. Laura

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