Your child’s outbursts in public can make you want to pull your hair out and run for the hills. They put you and your spouse on high alert and can even cause you to win enemies (the people sitting next to you at church) and lose your friends (the parents of the kid your child bit at storytime).
The Truth is… You can’t avoid going to the grocery store, visiting the library for story time, or going to restaurants forever. If you do avoid them, how will your child ever learn to do it right? If you are struggling with some kind of public display of bad behavior start by practicing the skills they need at home. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Practice: Make Believe Style
1. Practice at your dinner table or playtable near your kid size kitchen. Let them have a chance as the waitress and give them a “show” of what not to do. Then talk about the rules for the restaurant table.
2. Practice going to story time by hosting a story time for your child and all their stuffed animals. Let daddy play the part of the disruptive kid and then talk about the rules for story time.
3. Practice how to go to the grocery store by setting up a model store with your play grocery cart and food. Go through what is yes and no behavior for the grocery store.
Preview the new expectations and replacement behaviors
Before you get to where you are going, read through a list of dos and don’ts and add in pictures so they can see it and hear it.
Give them the steps for what will happen if things don’t go well.
Give them certain cue words that you will say when you want to get their attention.
Real Life Practice… celebrate small bits of progress
Choose a time when you can go with one child at a time so they get the individual attention they need to learn these public behaviors.
Plan on a visit that will be short and sweet so that you can ensure more success
Don’t make it a high stakes visit to the store or fancy restaurant… start small with a quick trip or a joint that is kid friendly
Remember they are still growing
Notice the positives and go back to the drawing board with the negatives
Go home and acknowledge how well they did with certain things
Give them more practice and redo your consequences if things aren’t working
All this practice won’t make your next outing perfect,
but it might make it a little easier.
It will set your child on track to continual improvement