Written by: Shani Fowler
Before we have children or if you never have them, seeing a child behave badly in public often gives rise to the thought “I would never let my child behave like that!” followed by a look of disapproval. But then when you do have them and they misbehave in public, thoughts often transfer to “oh poor parent – I feel your shame!” You know what they are going through and maybe even offer encouraging words of solidarity! There are some steps though that can help firstly prevent their bad behaviour and also quell any that does occur. Let’s have a look how to keep those broods in check!
The reasons they misbehave and initial steps to help
You can guarantee your child will play up in the most inappropriate of places; when you go out shopping, in the doctor’s surgery or out for a meal for example. There they will put on a fine display of totally unacceptable behaviour, especially for you and will even go for an encore if you have other family or friends present! Children are very adept as sussing when they are likely to get a reaction from us and we then fall into their trap (mwah haa haa – wicked laugh!)
They call for a reaction often when they consider we aren’t paying enough attention to them. We all get distracted maybe looking at a menu in a restaurant, chatting to others or looking at a list when shopping. Or it maybe they are simply bored with your adult pursuit, so a good tac-tic is try to limit the time, and though they don’t have a full concept of time, try to say how long something is likely to take beforehand.
Children, especially the really younger ones are likely to become bored quite quickly. You might want a coffee and a catch up with a friend you barely see but they are unlikely to feel the same. Make sure that they are occupied as much as they can be with something they like to do, but remember even something that occupies them will have limits too.
Reward good behaviour as well as reacting to bad
If you are out and they are being good, let them know! Tell them that for being so good they are allowed a treat, (something acceptable) that they can choose. If you only pay attention to the bad behaviour you are teaching the child that bad behaviour is more noticeable and gets a reaction – we don’t want that!
Home and away – be consistent
If they are being naughty in public, it is easy to try to brush it off and get it over with as quickly as you can, you can’t bear everyone looking! But it is better to deal with naughty behaviour outside of the house in a similar manner you would at home. Keep the consistency. If you don’t they will soon realise that they can misbehave outside the home without repercussions and it will become the norm, they will even save it up for you!
It might be easier to not have to go outside a restaurant or shop for time-out but it will be better in the long run if you did.
Ease into it
Don’t suddenly think your young child’s first trip means he or she is ready to sit through a five course meal whilst you chat with your friends discussing the merits of Kim Kardashian’s fuller figure – there is going to be trouble ahead! Your child has little experience of how to behave in public – remember! Meet for a half hour coffee, taking their favourite toy and build up to the bigger stuff. Include them as much as you can, talk to them, let them know you are aware they are still there, it’s sometimes all they want – to know they can have your attention.
If you want to be able to go out in public with your child and have a social life where you are able to include them, it is important to make sure their behaviour is up to scratch. Build up to events, occupy them during the time they are out, reward their good behaviour and treat their bad as you would at home; remembering there will be time limits as to how long they are likely to tolerate something. If you bear these points in mind you should be proud (most times) to have them with you and you can avoid those disapproving stares and tuts!