It’s every parent’s nightmare: You’re in the grocery store, shopping mall or your favourite restaurant when your little darling decides to throw a tantrum, let loose with a stream of words daddy shouldn’t say or ask the lady behind you in the check-out line why she’s so fat–yikes! So, could it be that your kid’s bad behaviour is entirely his own fault?
Bad behaviour: Monkey see, monkey do
There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, ‘children learn what they live’. So before you go all self-righteous on your children, take a good look at and listen to what is coming out of your mouth. Do you make rude or inappropriate comments about people you see on television or in public? Do you easily lose your temper with your children, their father or others? What kind of language do you and your spouse use?
You cannot expect (and don’t have a right to expect) your children to rise above your example. They don’t know how to. Therefore, do not be too quick to assess your child bad behaviour because there’s a chance you’ve been a good teacher of bad habits.
When children don’t feel well
When your children don’t feel well, they are likely to act out. They don’t do so to be naughty–they are simply trying to convey their discomfort. If your child is dealing with a cold, sore throat, earache, gastrointestinal issues or headaches, don’t take them out in public. Think about it–you don’t want to go anywhere when you’re sick! Surely, they can’t be penalised for ‘bad behaviour’ if they’re merely trying to express how horribly ill they feel.
Children are transparent
You can’t expect your children to behave in public in a way you don’t require them to behave at home. If your children are allowed to throw tantrums, curse, speak disrespectfully and run roughshod over everyone and everything, you’re living in La La Land if you think they’ll behave any differently in public. It’s only natural for your children to get loud and rowdy at home on occasion but the expectations, discipline and guidelines you have at home are the ones they’ll live by in public.
If kids are extended the freedom to behave badly at home and have their way all the time without their parents reprimanding them, should mums and dads expect little angels when they take their kids out? Truth be told, bad behaviour isn’t exactly a switch your toddler can switch off in public–just in case you were wondering.
The best-laid plans…
Even the best-behaved and sweet-natured children have an occasional lapse in judgment. I know this to be true because of the time my two-year-old little sweetheart (I mean that sincerely) was in the arts and crafts store with me and proceeded to grab a tube of oil paint and squeeze it all over the floor, my shirt, her shirt and shoes and the shelf.
The point of my sharing that still vivid memory twenty-four years after the fact is to remind you that your children aren’t perfect. And there will be times (hopefully very few) when their behaviour in public is less than desirable.
When those times come, however, your reaction and how you handle the situation will play a major role in how it all plays out. Taking control of the situation by keeping a low, gentle and firm tone of voice, by not giving in and by removing your child from the situation, you will be able to keep the situation under control and move forward.
Parents, before you take your child to the whip and give him or her the smacking of their lives, consider their bad behaviour and first determine where all of it came from. If you do realise at all that you could be at fault, then perhaps it’s the parent who needs a lesson in good manners and bad behaviour.
We hope you like these tips. Share your own with us in a comment below.