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Disciplining In Public


It breaks my heart when I see a parent berating their child in public for everyone to hear.  Imagine if you saw a husband going off on his wife at the mall.  You'd be mortified.  Why is it any different with children?  Wouldn't their little spirits be crushed just the same as an adults?  Of course they would.

Discipline is a private thing.  It is not something to be done publicly.  It is also not something to be done loudly to show others that you are equally disgusted with your child's behavior and that you're going to "show 'em who's boss".  This attitude leads to parents loudly correcting their child in public while looking around to be sure that everyone sees how powerful and dominant they are.  It's awful.

If we go back to "Crying Cops", you know that you have the authority, there is no need for bravado.  And there is certainly no need to humiliate your child.

If you are in public or another person's home and your child is behaving badly, quietly take him to a private place and calmly explain to him that he needs to stop behaving this way, or.... 
Or we'll go home. 
Or we'll go out to the car and you'll get a spanking. 
Or you won't get to watch your TV show tonight. 

Whatever, so long as it's not an idle threat, your child can smell one of those a mile away. 

And that's what it comes down to in public or at home.  Do your children believe what you tell them will happen if they don't behave. 

Are you willing to follow through even if it interferes with your plans for the day? 

They will test you certainly, but it doesn't take many times of calling their bluff for them to learn that you mean what you say, especially if you start this when they are young.

Be fair to them.
Don't keep them out for hours and hours.
Don't keep them out through nap time.
Don't expect them to sit through a two hour lunch.
But also remember that they are capable of behaving nicely in any situation for a short period of time.  You shouldn't have to get a baby sitter just to buy groceries, and you shouldn't have to suffer (or cause the rest of us to suffer), a badly behaved child in public.

Just like discipline at home, public discipline is about calmly letting your child know you're not happy with his behavior, what will happen if he doesn't behave, and the willingness to follow through.  Do this consistently and it will become less and less necessary to discipline them at all.


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Reader Comments (4)

I seriously need to work on the follow through. I am trying but it is really hard and they know it, the more consistant that I am the better it will get! I wish I could be consistant, I really need to pray about that.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeranda

Hang in there Meranda, and know that the more consistent you are the easier it gets. After a while they just learn that when you say something you mean it and don't bother to press you. :)

January 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShonna

I just discovered your wonderful blog, and I've been reading post after post....and every word you've written has been something that I needed :) Thank you! I witnessed a poor frazzled (been there...like every day for the past 2 years!) mother yelling at her child in the store today....and I just felt so awful for the poor little man. I'm not judging her, because I know how hard it is sometimes, but it was a good reminder to me that I don't want to do that to my own children. Then I read your post here....and you covered it all :)

Hi Tracey,
Ya, it can feel pretty zooy some days, but you're right, it's never an excuse to totally "loose it" with our kids. Big hugs to you as you're in the midst of it, believe it or not, you'll miss them terribly when they're in school all day! :)

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShonna

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