Kids sometimes make a scene, it happens. The problem is it can happen anywhere: at the supermarket, at a restaurant, during a family reunion, at school, on a plane… And, well, you probably don’t enjoy feeling observed, or even judged. Because we know that happens, we’ve been there. Being judged, not judging, obvs.
But hey, we come to help, or at least to try! So here go some tips that worked for us, and we hope will work for you too.
Parenting in Public: What to do when your child misbehaves
1. We’re all about prevention; so make sure the basics are covered
Avoid taking your child anywhere if they are sleepy or hungry. Even as adults, it’s sometimes hard to behave when we’re hungry or sleepy–at least it is for us, ok?! –.
So, if your child is hungry, even if you’re going to a restaurant, give them something to snack on during the wait. Same if you’re at the supermarket, go to the fruit section and get them some fruit to eat while you do the groceries.
2. Make them feel useful
If you give them a task, they will feel important. We already gave you this tip when we talked about travelling with kids. Kids want to have a mission, they will take it super seriously. So, if you go to the grocery store, tell them to get some items from the list, to carry a small bag…
3. Tell them what you’re going to do
Tell them what you’re going to do, how long it will take, and how you expect them to behave. Don’t expect them to behave a certain way without instructions!
4. Listen to them
Before jumping to conclusions, ask your child why they are misbehaving and what they need. This is super related to the following point:
5. Make them feel you care
Many times, kids act out in public when they feel we’re not paying any attention to them. It’s just their way to get our attention.
6. Make them laugh
Be silly, be goofy. If you want them to behave a certain way, just show them by taking said behaviour to an extreme. If you want them to walk slowly, walk suuuuuper slowly. If you want them to be quiet, press your lips and don’t say a word. You get it.
7. Don’t give in
If your child gets annoying and insists on, for example, eating sweets; stand your ground and say no, no matter how much they insist. If you give in, they will think they will always get their way. What we do when this happens is redirecting their “need” for sweets towards a healthier option.
However, if you’re somewhere where you can’t run away, like on a plane or a train, we suggest you use a different approach. For example, let them know they will be able to move as soon as the plane takes off, sit them on your lap to calm them down…
8. Stay calm
Children can be childish, you mustn’t. You’re there to teach them how to behave in situations they find boring or annoying, not to act like a child yourself or wind them up.
Getting back to the plane/train scenario, where being calm can be hard, and you just want your child to sit down quietly and sleep until the plane lands; just try to relax, take a deep breath, and focus on your child. In the end, all the rest of the passengers want is a quiet flight,
9. Don’t think much about other people
Yes, there are people watching, but you shouldn’t let that change the way you deal with your child.
And if someone intervenes –even if it’s to “help” –, tell them everything’s under control and your child will be ok.
What do you do when your child misbehaves in public? How do you deal with these uncomfortable situations? Let us know on the comments!