Does your child throw temper tantrums in stores or restaurants? Many parents tell me that they worry over how to discipline their children appropriately in public.
So I have put together this video for you with my tips for parents on what to do if your child misbehaves or throws a tantrum in a public place.
(If you’d rather read than watch, there’s a link to a full transcript below.)
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Dana Obleman: Hi, I’m Dana Obleman. Welcome to this week’s video blog. Today, I want to talk a bit about misbehaving in public. I get a lot of emails and see it on the Facebook page quite often. Parents have some really good strategies for dealing with misbehaving behaviors at home, but there’s always that worry that, “Oh, what if we get into the restaurant, and she has a complete fit, and then what do I do?” That’s a really tricky one, especially in those toddler years, where they’re just learning how to handle their emotions and what appropriate behaviors are OK in a restaurant and which ones aren’t. I want to encourage you to go ahead and try going out in public with your children and having some really clear expectations for what kind of behavior you want to see.
This was a tricky area for us too as parents. We enjoy going out for dinner, and there was a period of time where we just didn’t do it anymore because it was more hassle than it was worth. Then, we decided, “You know what? Because this is enjoyable for us, there should be no reason why we can’t take our children out to eat and expect them to behave in an appropriate manner. We just had to teach them what that was.
I want you to be really clear with your child. That’s the first thing you need to do is, just saying, “Be good,” or “Have good behavior,” can be too vague. They don’t understand. What kind of behaviors are OK and which ones are not OK?
So, get really specific about two or three things that you want to see when you’re in the restaurant. For example, I would say to my children, “I want you to have inside voices, which means no yelling. I want you to sit on your bottoms, which means no standing up in your seat. And I want you to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’ Have good manners.” I’ve been very clear about what my expectations are when we go in.
We go over them the minute we park in the parking spot. “What are our rules for restaurant behavior?” I get them to repeat those rules with me so that we’re all clear going in. All right, so that’s step one.
Now, it doesn’t mean that all is going to go well once you get in there. Children are children and they may need reminders about the rules, so I want you to be really clear with your consequences too when you get into a restaurant.
If you’ve outlined clearly what your expectations are and one of your children starts yelling loudly in the restaurant, you’ve already gone over that. You don’t need to keep repeating yourself to be quiet. I would give one warning. I would say, “That is not an inside voice. You need to speak more quietly.” If he continues to yell, now we go to consequence. There absolutely has to be a consequence. My favorite consequence is leaving the restaurant. Going to have a time out in the car.
That’s, sure, I get it. That’s a total inconvenience for you. You have to get up out of your chair and drag a child to the car for a time out, but I’m telling you, if you do that on a consistent basis, all you’ll have to do is give the warning and the child will know. It’s when we give warnings and give more and are inconsistent with our consequences, that’s when things become really challenging because our children don’t know what to expect. Therefore, they’re going to keep trying until they finally reach the end.
So give your one warning, then give a consequence, time out in the car. If you’re with your partner, you can take turns. First time out is your job, next time out is his. Usually, it won’t take more than one or two warning and time outs before a child understands that, “I have to behave in a certain way when I’m in a restaurant or I will face a consequence.”
I would do the same thing if I was in the grocery store, at Grandma’s house, wherever it is where you feel a little bit out of your element. It is absolutely OK and crucial that you stick with the same sort of consequence and warning systems that you have at home, even if it means we’re at Grandma’s house and now we need to go to the car for a time out, or we need to go to the car for a time out in the grocery store. These are OK things to do.
Once you’ve set the stage, then you don’t have to do them as much. You might find yourself doing them often at first, but again, like I said, once your child understands that you mean what you say, then they’ll stop after the first warning. All right?
So enjoy your dinner. Thanks for watching and sleep well.
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