Controlling Kids in Public

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Screaming, shouting, throwing things – nothing is more annoying than out-of-control kids in public. But how can a parent keep them in line?

Before any parent gets upset by the title and the introduction of this article, please do note that I am the mother of an 11-year-old boy myself. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am immune to the loud screeches and uncontrolled running around of children in restaurants and shops, while their parents ignore their behaviour.

As parents, our children are our responsibility and we have to monitor their actions and make sure they do not disturb others. It is also crucial to remember that if you don’t discipline your children, and teach them the consequences of their actions, then they are going to miss out on something vital in life: respect for others.

Having said that, there are many parents who do try to control their kids but somehow seem to fail. Truth be told, I was failing for a long time myself until I met my new mother-in-law, who taught me a lesson I just have to share.

Tip #1: Establish rules for everyone to follow for when you’re out and about. If you’re sitting at a table with your friends and you’re all talking loudly, or if you’re walking down the road and you chuck a wrapper on the street without a care in the world, then don’t expect your child to do things differently.

Tip #2: Teach your child the meaning of the word ‘respect’. The problem with many kids these days is that they don’t know how to respect themselves, others and other people’s property. They dig forks into restaurants’ tables; they scream to their hearts’ content; and they even disrespect their parents by answering back. You are the parent and as such it is your job to be the bad guy who teaches them that it is not okay to answer back, it is not okay to disturb others’ downtime, and it is certainly not okay to vandalise other people’s property.

Tip #3: Plan something for your kid to do. You might be enjoying your time shopping, but what is your child supposed to do? It’s not fair to expect children, who are so full of energy, to sit around and wait for you to choose between the two cream blouses you have in your hands. Get them something that will keep them occupied so they’ll stay out of mischief.

Tip #4: Ask and you shall receive. We all have days when we just don’t feel like seeing people, or don’t feel like following rules – we have adapted to this, children probably haven’t. Ask them if they are not up for it, and either ask someone to babysit or don’t go out. Trust me, they’ll hate the fact that they missed out on an outing and they’ll learn quickly.

Tip #5: Let them self-evaluate themselves once you get back home or in the car. Ask them what they think they’ve done wrong and how they could be better next time, and never be scared to show them that actions have consequences – it sucks, but it’s life!

What do you think of Evelyn’s advice? Anything you’d like to add?