Ever faced embarrassment handling kids in public? For reasons best known to them, kids get carried away or behave weirdly when in public because of the new-found attention and exposure. Alas, how we wished they never had a meltdown in public! Not to blame them, sometimes even parents don’t know how to react or handle kids in public.
“More often than not, parenting does go wrong in public as we parents have a tendency of over instructing and yelling in public. It’s a case of reputation at stake when kids don’t listen to parents in public and many parents end up trying to over control kids in public places or when in a bigger group. We threaten, intimidate, punish, or withdraw our love or attention to feel in control,” shares Seema Hingorany, Mumbai’s leading clinical psychologist and trauma expert.
Does that happen to you too? Our kids’ do challenge us in public places. So what’s the ideal way to handle them in public? Here’s help:
5 things to keep in mind when handling kids in public:
1) Kids will be kids
If you want to control every action of your child when in public, remember that’s just not going to happen. Let kids open up and have fun, but not cross the limits. Let them behave naturally and discover new ways to interact with other people. It’s okay to be excited and bubbling with energy on special occasions. Remember children need lot of free space and you can’t expect them to sit at one place and talk politely for hours. After all, they are not puppets or adults. Give them ideas how they can vent their energy or make friends to keep them busy. Explain to your child beforehand what’s expected out of him/her. If you do this on a regular basis, chances are he/she will understand and not leave you embarrassed.
2) No surprises please
If you’re expecting guests or taking kids out for a party, don’t be in a hurry to just pack them in their finest clothes and surprise them. Keep talking to your children about the upcoming event or occasion; do prepare them mentally before the d-day. Let them know the kind of place they will be in, the people expected to be there and what will be the course of action. If you’re short of time, talk to them while you dress them up or drive them around. Give them ideas on how to keep themselves entertained or how to respond when grown-ups shoot random questions at them!
3) What’s in it for them?
You may want to enjoy your outing or talk to other adults to your heart’s content, but remember you chose to drag along your little ones. If you want to avoid kids’ bad behaviour, stay connected with them. Don’t let them feel left out or out of the place. Better carefully choose the places or days you want to take kids out. For example, avoid taking kids to a kitty party, for a Bollywood masala films, or an adult shopping spree. If you have no option but to drag them along, try incorporate a fun time for kids in your schedule. Perhaps, a pizza treat after hours of shopping or a dose of virtual-reality games at the mall?
4) Be empathetic
Are they bored, tired, or craving for attention? Remember that often kids don’t know why they are doing something, so just asking them outright might not work. You know your children the best, so be kind, patient, and understanding. When they’re acting really big—screaming or throwing a tantrum—they’re often feeling very small. Help them. Craft an effective response.
5) Engage your child
Spend exclusive time with your children before you take them to a public place. Stay connected with each other and avoid challenging situations. For example, if you’re out shopping for grocery, before your child gets bored and demands every other junk to be in the cart, engage him/her in a math game or take his/her help to find an item. Instigate laughter to ease out tense situation in public. “Use eye contact, touch, your voice, and short spurts of attention to keep him in the orbit of your love. This contact is deeply reassuring, and can sometimes defuse situations that your child finds difficult,” advises Christine Carter, a sociologist and famous author, best known for her science-based happiness tips.
So, next time you find yourself in a difficult situation handling kids’ bad behaviour in public, remember to ask yourself—”Am I responding in a way that will help my child learn to manage his behaviours or am I being irresponsible and unreasonable myself?” Chances are you can better mould your behaviour if you’re aware of things happening. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. Go figure!
Share tips on how to handle kids bad behaviour in public, comment now!
Image credit: Christine Szeto
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