18-Month-Old Uncontrollable in Restaurants and Stores

Asked July 23, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT

I have a child I work with who is 18 months old. The child's mother is frustrated because it is so stressful to take her anywhere. She won't sit in the cart in grocery stores, and in restaurants, she will not sit in the high chair and wants to run wild and act up. What suggestions do you have for handling a "wild" child in these situations?

Livingston County Illinois

1 Response

How is the child with you? We know that some of this kind of behavior is not unusual for 18-month-olds—she might be a bit more extreme. Although the mother probably just wants these behaviors to stop, her job is to help the child learn self-control and how to manage her own emotions and impulses. The mother can do this by

  • learning what "typical" behavior is for an 18-month-old, and why the child is acting this way (see the resources below);
  • planning outings so that the child is not tired or hungry and bringing snacks or toys that can occupy and distract the child if she becomes restless; and
  • learning how to set limits on behaviors, letting the child know what is acceptable, and then praising and rewarding appropriate behavior.
You can pass on the following resources:
If you are a child-care provider you might share some observations about Livia's behavior in your care, and how you manage "wild" behavior!