Parenting in Public

Children have the uncanny ability to select the most public of places to have a screaming fit! They seem to know just when to question your authority as a parent and somehow manage to force you into parenting in a way you never would, if you were at home; simply because of the judge mental stares of all passers-by!

Parenting in Public

A Parent’s Public Nightmare

Imagine this. You have taken your four-year-old to a restaurant. In a few minutes, he wriggles out of his chair and is soon engaged in a loud argument with another little boy. You break it up before any blood is shed, smiling apologetically at the other child's parents. He then decides that he does not want to eat a burger after all, but wants what the boy at the other table is having. You hiss at him that he cannot waste the food and he begins to whine. 

You shout at him, warning him of dire consequences if he behaves badly. But the whining soon escalates into a full-blown tantrum and his plate is sent crashing to the floor. By now, you are doing everything in your power to stop yourself from reaching across and giving him a good shake. You can feel all eyes in the restaurant upon you and your son, judging your ability as a parent while your son continues to scream Bloody Murder! 

What Will 'They' Think?

Somehow children have an uncanny instinct to pick the most public places to have a screaming fit and question your authority as a parent. Parents usually react in one of two ways. Either they let their annoyance get the better of them and yell at the child, hoping to quell the tantrum by conveying the message that they mean business; or they give in easily, just to shut the child up. However, at home, you will probably just ignore him till he gives up, realising that his antics would not work. 

While it is only natural for you to want people in general to think highly of you, parenting is about you and your child, not about what looks good to the general public. Your child will not understand why you respond to the same situation differently at home and in public. Your anger or your indulgence will confuse and lead him into thinking that you do not care for him any longer. 

Tips for Parenting in Public
  • You know your child better than anyone else. If you know that he gets restless quickly or gets overexcited in a crowd or is cranky when he has not had his afternoon nap, plan your outings taking all these factors into consideration.
  • Prepare your child so he knows what to expect. If you are taking him to an amusement park, tell him that it will be noisy, hot and crowded and that he will have to be patient because you will have to wait in line to get to the rides.
  • Lay down the rules before you leave. If you are taking your child shopping, tell him that he is only allowed to buy one book or toy and this is not negotiable under any circumstances.
  • Equip yourself to keep your child entertained. Carry some toys, crayons, colouring books, etc. with you so that your child is kept occupied and would not think of throwing tantrums as a way to gain attention. 
  • Make your child feel included by giving him the right to decide certain things like what you should see first at the aquarium or which ride you should go on.
  • At the first sign of restlessness, take your child out for a break. Do not wait till he is miserable and crotchety.
  • The minute he misbehaves, tell him that you understand that he must be tired and fed up, but remind him firmly about the rules you had agreed upon at home.
  • Be prepared to leave as a last resort. Once you have decided to leave, do not let your child dissuade you even if he promises to behave. 
  • Do not forget to compliment him for good behaviour.