Are You Doing This When Your Kids Misbehave In Public?
The lady, the child and definitely me: we all hoped that the we were somewhere else in that moment.
The last thing I wanted was an apology. As I stood there in Hamley’s, I really wanted to get my shopping done with an leave. I really didn’t want to witness the lady forcibly extract an apology out of her son’s throat for bumping into me while walking and then, walking right by.
Really it was a no biggie. But the lady was crestfallen. The fact that her 6 yo didn’t want to apologize made her more furious and me impatient. Finally the mom got it the way she wanted, the decibel she hoped for and the tone she thought appropriate.
Really was this necessary? Sure, he bumped into me but did that account for the kid misbehaving? I didn’t like being held hostage while she disciplined him right there in front of an audience of awkward bystanders.
Children will disobey. Be disrespectful. Whine. Hit. Lie. Misbehave and all this will not always happen behind the closed doors of your home. The last thing you as a parent want to do is let everyone around think that your child is bratty, ill-mannered or bossy. Everyone is hearing range doesn’t need to know that your kid misbehaved.
There really is not point in embarrassing a child is there?
When Kids Misbehave, Handle It As A Private Matter
When a child misbehaves in public, I can totally see why the parents want to discipline right there. We are embarrassed about their behaviour and want others to know that as a mom ‘I don’t support this!’ It does also make a great opportunity to discipline the child. Sometimes it happens out of habit because that’s how one does it at home. Discipline right away and hence forget that there is an audience around.
This public display doesn’t help. The child would perhaps already be feeling anxiety because he has done something or forgotten to do something. And then, he is reprimanded for it in front of everybody.
The best thing in this situation would be to apologize on behalf of your child (if he is not willing to do it)
Better Learning Might Take Place Later
I have noticed with my own experience in similar situations that the ‘I’m sorry’ is a thoughtless, wanting to finish it kind of a statement. The child is caught in a situation and just wants to save face. Does the whole lesson really sink in when you and the child are both fraught and edgy?
So What Can You Do Instead?
Instead of coercing an apology out of the child at that exact moment, I would wait to do it later.
I would’ve apologized on the child’s behalf and moved on.
No this doesn’t mean that I am leaving the child off the hook. What it means is that I will take it up later when I have a better chance to explain what happened. Hear out why he did what he did, empathize if required and point out that the misconduct was not right. Explain when that happens, it is best to apologize.
And the best part? He’ll be way more receptive to listen and understand when it’s just you and him. Not with a bunch of other people within earshot.
Regardless of your intentions with disciplining your child in front of others, it’s best not to do so. Parenting comes with patience, faith and love: not what others will think about you.
Instead, apologize on his behalf and discuss it in private. And save everyone—your child and others around—from any more awkward moments.