Lately, there have been a lot of news stories about the decline of children’s manners. Some retail establishments have even tried to ban “misbehaving children” from their business. In an extreme effort to solve the problem some groups have fought for “child free” dining and compare eating with children to dining with cigarette smoke.
Some say our fast paced, hectic, overscheduled days has made society less tolerant of children.
Yet, it also could be said that adults aren’t behaving so great either (think about cell phones, road rage, aggressive behavior.) Using this logic, we could argue this issue in circles for quite some time. However, maybe we should focus on measures to improve the situation.
Not all outings are appropriate for all children. For example, it may not be realistic to expect a hungry three year old to quietly manage a meal at a nice restaurant. If your child has trouble going on too many errands only take her on a few errands at a time. It may take some advance planning, but a pleasant outing might be well worth it for all involved.
Prepare Your Child
Preparing your child for specific “outings” is helpful. Small children enjoy make believe type play. You could pretend you are a server at a restaurant and your child is a patron, or play this scenario out using dolls or puppets.
Discuss the correct way to behave at a restaurant and why misbehaving is inconsiderate. It’s also a good time to remind your child to use their polite words. Enthusiastically praise your child for displaying good manners.
If you are going out and your child has to wait for a meal, appointment, in a grocery line, bring some quiet activities that he can do while waiting. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or big – maybe a small notepad and a few crayons, little cars, dolls, or books.
Know When To Cut Your Loses
If all measures to distract and calm your child fail, know when to cut your loses. This may mean rescheduling an appointment, getting your meal to go or leaving a play date. When your child calms down, discuss why you left and other ways your child could have dealt with the situation. As hard as we try to anticipate and prevent unpleasant situations, they are bound to happen occasionally with children. Relax and try to turn the unfortunate situation into a constructive experience for the future.
Be The Role Model
As a parent, always displaying good manners in stressful situations is challenging. Take a deep breath, stay calm and don’t forget that children are always watching how we behave, especially in difficult situations.