Archived Story

Disciplining your children

Published 10:57am Thursday, September 29, 2011

What do you do when you are in public to discipline your children? When mine act up I get so embarrassed, I just want to give in so that we don’t make a scene.

Dear PR,

First of all, I remind myself that almost all children have temper tantrums at some time or another and that there is no reason to feel embarrassed. I also remind myself, “This too shall pass. Thank goodness.”

Next, I don’t give in to blackmail and that is what a tantrum boils down to. I look at it like this if my child knows that I don’t want to be embarrassed and will give in to their demands if they scream loud enough then I am being blackmailed by my own child. I refuse to live my life under my child’s thumb.

The obvious question is, “Just what do you do, then?” Well, that depends on which child it is. For example, when one of our daughters was about three we went out to eat dinner with my in-laws. My daughter started throwing a fit because she wanted to get dessert, but hadn’t finished her dinner yet. We said, “no” and the fit ensued. She started to get loud, so I turned to her and said, “You’re not crying loud enough. The people in the corner can’t hear you. Please cry louder. Now if you’re going to do something, do it properly. Come on now cry louder.” My daughter (and my hubby and in-laws) looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but my daughter hushed. She found she couldn’t embarrass me to get her way.

I will warn you that will not work with every child. You have to know your child’s temperament. When we were in foster care we had a little girl that technique would never have worked on. She wanted to be a part of everything, so to discipline her we used separation. When she began to throw a fit in a store we simply picked her up — usually kicking and screaming — and took her out to the van, where she got to sit in her car seat until she calmed down. It got to where all we had to say was, “Do you want to go to the van?” and that would stop the tantrum.

Another approach is the “wait till we get home.“ Although, I usually feel the behavior needs to be dealt with immediately, we do use this method for older children who can remember what they’ve done and why they are being disciplined.

Now having said all of this, I want to add one more thought. Try to pay careful attention to when your child’s tantrums happen. Is something triggering them that you can avoid to begin with? If your child’s nap time is for 1-2 p.m. each day, then don’t schedule things for that time frame. You’re just setting yourself up for your child to have a meltdown because they’re tired.

I hope these ideas have helped you.

Don’t be embarrassed when your child misbehaves. They’re just being normal. Hold you head up high and take charge of the situation. And remember, this too shall pass. Thank goodness!

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