We’ve all been there, grocery shopping or at a restaurant when our normally angelic child pitches a fit that catches everyone’s attention.
You know the kind of fit I mean, the one where the eyes of onlookers are glued to you in anticipation of what will happen next and well meaning passersby’s stop and comment or share otherwise greatly unwanted advice.
Besides taking a deep breath and counting to ten, or hiding your head in embarrassment, there are other things you can and should do when bad behavior occurs while out and about. In fact there’s even a plan of action you can take to minimize poor behavior and make going grocery shopping or out to eat with your children something you look forward to, rather than dread.
Whenever you’re heading out with the kids, it’s vital to be proactive and layout the purpose of your outing and your behavioral expectations. The next time you’re faced with taking your kids to the grocery store, try saying something like this before you head in: “We’re going into the grocery store to get food for dinner. We are not getting toys or candy, so please don’t ask because the answer will be no. Please remember to hold my hand and walk next to me. If you don’t you’ll have to sit in time out (or whatever the age appropriate consequence is).” Doing so eliminates confusion, allows your children to prepare for what’s to come, and spells out what is and what is not acceptable while you are on your outing.
While it can be easy to get caught up in the task at hand, it’s important to stay focused on your children and their behavior. Taking a tired or hungry child grocery shopping is a recipe for disaster. To avoid unpleasant issues when out and about, plan your outings around your child’s schedule. While on your outing, take note of your child’s behavior and how your child is responding to the environment. If you sense his time for holding it together is limited, finish up and make a quick exit.
The best discipline is consistent discipline. While it’s tempting to avoid disciplining your child in public, don’t. Doing so will only send your child mixed signals. When consistent behavioral expectations and disciplinary actions are in place, your child is likely to behave better. And if you make threats and tell your child you’re going to leave if he does what he is doing one more time, be prepared to follow through. While it’s a hassle to leave your cart in the middle of the store or pack up your food and leave a restaurant, if it’s called for, do it. It usually only takes one prompt exit to let your child know you mean business when it comes to behaving in public.
While disciplining a child is never fun, it can be especially uncomfortable when people are watching. Do your best to ignore other people and focus on what’s best for your child. While it may be easier in the moment to say yes or to give in to a tantrum, in the long run caving in only encourages poor behavior.