Shout out to all the mums (& dads) who’ve had kids misbehave in public. I feel for you.
This week the Royals hit the news with the Jubilee Parade. Newslines shamed Kate and 4-year-old Louis. Louis misbehaved by expressing himself and moving instead of sitting still.
I haven’t investigated it. Reading the headlines was enough. Give Kate a break!!
Have you ever had a 4-year-old (or better still, a 2-year-old) in a public place where they have misbehaved and not followed the expected ‘protocol’? YES!! I think any parent can relate. And if you can’t, you either have the ‘perfect’ child, an extremely compliant child (no doubt the first born and certainly not the youngest) or your child was forced to behave and didn’t dare deviate due to consequences. I have also seen parents medicate their children so they will behave in public.
Parents, grandparents, and society need to stop shaming. Stop shaming the parents for their kid’s behaviour.
Sure, there are some things we can do beforehand to help prepare our children when in public for how they are to behave.
- Prepare your child beforehand with what we expect of them. This does not always work, but I found with my two children that when I chatted through with them what I expected them to do, it helped. Prepare also with food (limiting sugar beforehand) and rest/sleep.
- Realistic expectations. How long do you expect a 2-year-old, 4-year-old, a teenager to stand or sit still while something is occurring they have no interest in? We often, as adults, find it hard. Look at it from a child’s point of view.
- Be prepared with a noiseless activity – book, toy, paper and crayons. Keep a special toy for these occasions or a ‘busy’ bag with several quiet activities in the car. These quiet activities will distract and keep busy little bodies.
- Adjust your expectations. Is it essential for your kids to be there? If so, what can you do to make it pleasant for them?
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Will your child’s behaviour matter in a year, five years, or ten years’ time?
- Be consistent with your expectations. Communicate clear behaviour guidelines. This is important, especially with teenagers. They can spot hypocrisy a mile away. Consistency is far more important than rules.
- Be in your child’s corner. They need to know that they are more important to you than external viewpoints and someone else’s opinion. I often failed in this as I would listen to another adult’s perspective before my child’s. Advocate for your child. Teach them to advocate for themselves. Empower them.
- Relationship before rules. Please do not harm your relationship with your child over a rule or being legalistic. Grace and relationship are so important. Keep the communication lines open so that your child/teenager can approach you and feel they can talk to you about anything.
- Choose your battles. Is this really something you want to go into battle on, or can you lessen any negative impact by loving your child, supporting them and their current need, and not agreeing with any shame you may feel through your child not behaving specifically? Don’t sacrifice your relationship with your child/teenager on things that don’t count long term. My daughter wore jeans with holes in them to church. Inside, everything was screaming ‘NO’, mainly because two close friends had criticized someone wearing ‘holey’ jeans to church, and these friends would never allow their daughters to do that. I was so conscious of those holes in my daughter’s jeans, but felt I needed to let her wear them and not make a big issue. At least she was in church!! Yes, one of those friends criticized me for allowing my daughter to wear them. My response – did it matter long term? My relationship with my daughter was worth more than wearing a pair of holey jeans to church. My relationship with my daughter was also more critical than my friendship with my friend.
- Be a ‘permission giver’. Try to give as many yeses as possible. Be a permission giver so that when your child wants to do something that is a definite no, you can say no, and they will respect it. Turn no’s into yeses. Be flexible and work out a suitable alternative. When you need to say no, try to explain your reasons.
Parents, you are doing a great job. Keep focusing on your relationship with your child/teenager. And don’t take part in shaming others or yourself.