Kids learn from other kids. If your child sees another child treating a public space as his own personal playground, don't be surprised if your child tries to do the same. Here's how to curb misbehavior in public before it even crosses your little one's mind.
"We've all seen children at a mall or restaurant turn into tyrants. They become loud, obnoxious or invade places they're not supposed to be," says Dr Tim Elmore, author of Generation iY, Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. "It's brilliant to capitalize on these incidents and make them teaching moments for our children."
You don't want to embarrass a child or their parent (however oblivious they may be), yet you can use these moments to teach your kids a lesson about inappropriate behavior the moment they see it happening outside your home. "Discuss what's right and wrong conduct [before going out]," Elmore says. "When you see anything to the contrary, grab your child's hand and [gently] squeeze it. This will be your signal reminding them of your conversation." If you find yourself amid an especially unpleasant scenario, or if you just want to ensure that no parties are insulted, pull your child aside in a restroom or nook to talk, Elmore suggests. Assume a 24/7 mentor role for your child; this "trainer mode" can and should be taken into public.
Some parents chalk up bad behavior to "being a kid," but there are consequences to avoiding discipline and hoping your child merely grows out of a bad "phase." Consistency in words and actions is key, Elmore cautions. "If you say you're going to discipline them when you get home, do it."
No one ever said discipline was the fun part of parenting, but your child needs you to prepare them for the higher expectations they will inevitably meet down the road. "Kids need an environment that is supporting and loving but, at the same time, has standards and boundaries," says Elmore. "Either of these two without the other is incomplete."
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