Four Ways to Make Your Children Behave in Public

We’ve all seen, and heard, the kid throwing a temper tantrum at the store, the kid who won’t stop bugging you in the next restaurant booth, or the kid whining, complaining, or running around wild. There’s nothing worse than people who impose their children’s bad behavior on others, and they are not doing their children any favors by not enforcing proper social behavior.

You have to know how to behave correctly and politely to land a good job or get into a prestigious school. But manners are not all about getting ahead in life or hoity-toity schools, manners show other people that you have consideration for them and respect their rights as much as yours. As a parent myself I can’t take the embarrassment of my own kids misbehaving in public, so I follow 4 simple rules that help immensely.

  1. Never take your children out hungry or thirsty if you can help it. If you can’t eat or drink before you leave home, take some small snacks along with you like animal crackers, carrot sticks, fruit snacks, or anything simple and non-messy. The same goes for drinks, bring water or clear or lightly colored juice (Capri Sun seems to have some nearly clear juice drinks, and they come in a packable pouch).
  2. Don’t take children out in public when they are tired (or sick). Plan your outings around nap and bed times. Ten o’clock at night is not the time to take your little one to Barnes and Noble.
  3. Bring something along to occupy your children. Here is the one time I would actually advocate a handheld video game. Not only can you play games on Gameboys, Playstation Portables, and other handheld game systems, but many also play movies. I like to keep crayons and small coloring books in my purse, maybe some playing cards or a small book to read, too.
  4. Remember that they are children! Don’t expect them to sit still or behave while you’re at work all day, waiting for a late appointment, enjoying a really long meal and conversation at a restaurant, etc. Every child has a limit to their boredom, for some it may be 2 hours, for the younger or more active children it may be only 15 minutes. The point is that you shouldn’t expect a child to be able to act perfectly, or know how to, in adult situations. Getting your taxes done or having your hair styled just isn’t interesting to kids.

Finally, you may have to enforce some type of discipline. Use the carrot or the stick; make sure there is a downside to bad behavior and a reward for good behavior. Again, you do your children a disservice if you don’t discipline them. When you act out as an adult you do not get the hot job, etc., and you may go to jail if your behavior is bad enough. While no one can behave perfectly all the time, especially children–it’s part of the learning process, these four rules help your kids be the best they can be.

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  1. Well I agree and disagree here.

    There are many kids that do throw fits in public, they know better, and the parents just are not making consequences to those actions. I agree that parents should discipline their children and teach them how to act in public. I have seen some kids turning over clothes racks and running around like wild animals while their parent continues shopping…meanwhile I have to leave because I am scared a rack will get turned over on my child. So I totally agree with you here!

    However, there are a lot of kids that throw fits and there is an underlying problem – to name one autism- that child’s behavior can not be helped. *It is up to the parent to keep the child from potentially harming others, but there is no way to discipline a child that can not comprehend what they are doing is not acceptable.

    I used not to see the difference here, but the interim between my daughter being big enough for a wheelchair, but too big for an infant car seat opened my mind it People who have no clue about my life….. would randomly give me advice. I would be carrying my child in my arms while she screamed through a store. People would come up to me and say you “need to put that child down and make her walk.” Little did they know she couldn’t walk. Her screaming may have been an annoyance to them, but it was not posing a danger or physically interfering with them shopping and they had no idea that she is screaming because her muscles spasm and hurt from the pressure of me carrying her.

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