Most children behave well in public places and at social gatherings. They try to be at their best behaviour and to not make mischief. But, they sometimes feel the need to impress people around them by doing something clever. In most cases, mothers can discipline the errant kids with a curt word or with a look the children know only too well. They fall in line almost immediately.
Then, there is a small bunch who insist on indulging in obnoxious behaviour in public places much to the discomfort of their embarrassed parents. As parents what are our options? Would you leave in a huff, red-faced and dragging your youngster along or you would much rather give your brat a dressing-down in full view of the public?
You also have the option of just grinning and bearing with your kid’s antics, partly in the hope that it is all part of growing up and partly for the fear of the consequences of disciplining your child in public. In an ideal world, parents should not ever have to teach their kids manners outside of home. But let us make provision for the the fact that the kids will always be kids.
However, as parents we have to face up to the fact that our kids are not the best behaved. Clearly, some course correction is in order, when your youngster starts throwing tantrums and disobeying you. But it is a delicate job and needs to be handled with finesse.
The next time you need to discipline your child for knocking things down at a party or for gargling with fruit juice at a fine-dining restaurant, these pointers might come in handy:
- Start gently: Don’t fly off the handle. Your kid might have a genuine grievance which might account for the bad behaviour. It’s always best to ask them to explain.
- Give them limited choices: Be firm with how far you are willing to be pushed. Drive home the point that while you are sympathetic, you cannot be pushed beyond a point.
- Try humour: Make light of the situation by cracking a joke. The resulting laughter will help the child to either lighten up or embarrass them into being their normal self.
- Make them self-conscious: Most children are very conscious about their public image and are careful not to spoil it. Making them aware that their actions are being watched by everyone around them often works wonders.
- Don’t punish them on the spot: This impulsive act always has undesirable consequences. It only aggravates an already bad enough situation. But you need to tell the child that bad behavior is unacceptable – discipline them the moment you reach home.
Finally, we must understand that in most cases, children do it as a way of drawing attention to themselves. They could be tired, hungry or plain bored. Give them a patient hearing before you do anything else!