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By kristen andersonSpecial to the Herald TimesRBC I It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. You’re at the grocery store with your toddler and suddenly, for no apparent reason, the screaming begins. Was it that you said “no” to the candy or the marshmallow/chocolate cereal? Or the toy they wanted in aisle 11? Or are they simply testing your limits to see how far you can be pushed before you have a meltdown?You feel your blood pressure rising and your patience diminishing. You try your best to reason with your child, telling him/her that if they just quiet down you’ll go back and get the toy/cereal/candy. Your child does not seem to hear you and the tantrum worsens. You consider leaving your cart full of groceries in the middle of the store and plan your escape. Does this sound familiar?Many parents are faced with situations very similar to the above scenario. As a parent, you may question yourself and how you “should’ve/would’ve/could’ve” handled a situation. Why do children have these public tantrums? Some children may do whatever it takes to test limits and see just what they can get away with. Situations may be manipulated by children based on your previous reactions — “It worked before, so maybe it will work again.” The best thing you can do is to begin to set your child up for success when faced with potentially unstructured or seemingly chaotic environments (grocery stores or shopping centers) or even with changes in everyday routines.Have a plan in place and be prepared for those instances when they do decide to test limits. Stay calm. Reasoning cannot be accomplished when you and/or your child are upset. Let your child know ahead of time the expectations you have for the place you are going. One way to do this is to ask your child what their behavior should look like in the store, at a friend’s house or in another environment. Appreciate and acknowledge the good responses they give. Be positive, specific and realistic in behaviors that you require. A better way of saying “be on your best behavior” or “be good” would be “when we go to the store, you need to ride in the cart or walk with me.”Another approach would be to make a game of the grocery shopping experience. Ask your child “what is the fruit that has a yellow peel and where would it be?” Have the child lead you to the bananas. This “game” can work for almost all items in the store. When going to the store, be prepared with a list of exactly what you need. Get in and get out. Have your child cross items off the list, it will keep him or her occupied with a “job” to do. It may seem to be more time consuming but the payoff of a pleasant experience with your child will be worth it.Behavior is learned and becomes habit. Once negative behaviors have begun and caregivers attempt to gain some control in a particular situation, negative behaviors will often intensify and actually become worse. For every year a behavior exists, it will take at least one month of consistent reinforcement to change the behavior for the better. Consistency is key. Don’t give up.If the overall situations do not improve even after several consistent attempts to regain control by employing the strategies outlined above, it is possible the child is having difficulties controlling his or her emotions and behaviors.If you feel this may be the case, please visit us at the 2011 Children’s Health Fair, Feb. 28 and March 1 in Rangely and March 7-8 in Meeker. Call (970)629-5004 or (970)675-2064 today to schedule your appointment!