Early parenthood marks the ‘time for isolation’. In the first few years, you would often use the phrase “We would better stay at home”. Even skipping a much-anticipated family gathering seems like a better idea than to make your child happy in the public place! You would never even plan on visiting a movie theatre or a play, in fear of the embarrassment it can cause. But sooner rather than later you have to take your child out to a public place, so why not prepare for it? In your fear, you are keeping the child away from due social exposure. Children are not meant to behave logically in public places from day one. They have to be coached by the parents to meet the societal standards. And the more you delay this coaching, the longer it will take for the child to understand the standards expected of him/her in public places.
Most parents would love to take their kids along to social gatherings and other public places to be a part of their joys. But they fear the criticism that would be thrown at their kids by others. So, here are some tips that would help you keep the child quiet and happy while you are in public places.
Tip #1: Start it early
Too many parents keep their children away from public places for long years. The longer you keep them away from the due exposure, the more difficult it would be to manage them. The best way to manage the public behavior of children is to take them along when they are very young. Even a baby who is a few months old can be carried to the cafe or restaurant just to familiarize him with the concept of public places. When given such early exposure, the child does not feel out of place and is easily manageable.
Tip #2: Carry a bag of goodies
Always carry a bagful of goodies before you leave from home. It should contain the most loved toys, some pencils and colours, books to read and some paper to scribble away. Such items will keep your child interested, even when they are showing a complete disinterest for the place you have visited.
Tip #3: Visit places with special children attractions
There are many restaurants, movie theatres, etc. which have a special kid’s zone. The restaurants with attached kid’s playgrounds allow the parents to enjoy the good food, while their children have fun running around! Other similar areas keep the kids busy while you can enjoy your time. If you are visiting a festival or an event, make sure there are some kid’s programs on offer.
Tip #4: Reach Early
Whether it is a family gathering or a dine-out at a busy restaurant, visit the place really early. Children can be at their pestering best when there is a lot of crowds all around. So, try to get in and out of public places before the crowd descends. This will give you a better chance of managing the kid!
Tip #5: Help him settle down
When you are visiting a restaurant, make it a point to order for the kid’s food first. Let the food arrive and start ordering your food only when the child has started eating his. Explain the highlights of the restaurant to the kid as well as get out all his toys so that he may start playing. Allowing the child to get settled would help you enjoy the meal in a much better.
Tip #6: Let them make their own decisions
Again let us take the example of an outing at a restaurant. Most of the parents try ordering their child’s food themselves. This somehow sends the wrong signals to the kids. Let them feel their freedom. Allow them to choose and order their own food (with some counselling). Ask them to use words like “Please” and “Thank You” when talking with the waiter. Also discuss the budgetary issues, if all he is ordering something that is exceeding your budget. It is a good way of teaching responsibility to the kid.
Tip #7: Teach them Social Behavior and Public manners
A child’s mind is a clean slate that needs to be filled in by the parents. So, whenever possible guide your child on the proper social behaviour standards as well as public manners. Tell them that you as parents are entitled to have fun during the outings. This teaching can be a long and cumbersome process, so do not give up on hope even if you see no changes anytime soon.
Tip #8: Let them sleep in the stroller or on the chair
The resting period of your child should not be interrupted. If he has fallen asleep on the restaurant’s chair, let him be until you are ready to move. Even if your son is lying down on the floor, allow him that freedom. When their sleep is interrupted, by unnecessary parenting, it can make them cranky and cranky children are the most difficult to manage!
Tip #9: Move out of the place
When your child is in a meltdown mode, it is wise to just move out of the public place and take him to a nearby quiet area. Allow the child to calm down and then explain why the people around are getting annoyed by his behaviour. Also, remind him about the public manners. Let them run around and get relaxed. Once they are calm again, you may revisit the public place.
Tip #10: If everything fails, give them Smartphones or Tablets
This is the easiest escape route to managing kids in a public place. You know, with the gadget in hand they will go quietly. You will have a great peace of mind! But do not make this your first option rather keep it as your last resort otherwise it would become a habit.
You should not be afraid of taking your children to public places. With due exposure and your guidance, they will learn the social skills aptly. Hope some of our tips will come in handy when things aren’t working well.