There’s nothing more mortifying for parents than your children misbehaving in public. It’s as if their poor behaviour reflects on your own parenting. This attitude places unfair pressure on parents.
Despite the best of intentions and your best parenting at home young children can be difficult to control outside of home. Behaviour that’s easy to contain at home is very difficult to handle in public, particularly when there are other people around.
Also that temper tantrum that gains little attention at home can be difficult to ignore in a shop, on public transport or at a friend’s house.
Sometimes children’s misbehaviour in public is a type of emotional blackmail: - “Give me what I want or I’ll misbehave.” Our verbal reactions to inappropriate behaviour are usually ineffective. So often we end up either whining to our kids or yelling at them to BEHAVE!!!
The rule of thumb when kids continually misbehave in public is to maintain order with a minimum of fuss and let respectful actions do the talking.
In most cases that means take your child home when they continue to misbehave. This may mean that you have inconvenienced yourself, but the lesson a child learns that mum means what she says can be a valuable one that stays for a long time.
Prepare your kids
It helps to prepare kids for new situations and teach them some appropriate behaviours before leaving home.
“We’re going to my friend’s place today for a little while. She hasn’t any children but you’ll able to watch television while we talk. You can stay with me for a while then you can play by yourself.”
It’s smart to involve young children in trips and outings inviting them to bring toys and other items that they’d like to play with. Children are more likely to behave when they’ve been consulted.
Sometimes it helps to practise the behaviours you want such as kids using good manners before they go out and meet others. Behavioural rehearsal a little used parenting strategy that hard wires social behaviours in young kids.
House rules apply when visiting friends
When visiting friends’ usually their house rules apply.
If your friend is stricter than you so be it. It’s important that your child learns to fit into different environments.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to discipline other people’s kids when they are at your place, or even if in public if you know them. Kids will often respond more favourably to other adults in public than they would to their own parents.
And if you see parents who are struggling with a toddler or young child in public offer to help rather than judge them because it may just be that they have a spirited, highly boisterous child that keeps even the best of parents busy.
For more ideas to help you raise well-behaved kids that other people rave about read my original best-seller One Step Ahead.
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