The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: 10 Tips for Disciplining Children in Front of their Friends

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 Tips for Disciplining Children in Front of their Friends

The guest blogger is from  I couldn't have said it better myself!  This applies to both parents who must discipline their children in front of siblings and friends, and to teachers who must discipline in front of classmates.  I ALWAYS pulled the student out of the classroom for a reprimand to avoid further humiliation.  What the rest of the class imagined was always worse that what I said in the hallway, which generally turned into a conspiracy between me and the student!

There are times when parents are forced to discipline their children in the presence of others, which can be quite tricky. This delicate situation should be handled as such, in order to avoid damaging a child’s self esteem and leading to taunts from the observing classmates. These ten tips can strike a balance between effectiveness and overly harsh when your child is acting out in public.
  1. Acknowledge the Behavior – Immediately acknowledging inappropriate or naughty behavior in a calm voice lets your child know that you are aware of the situation, and that their behavior isn’t acceptable.
  2. Pull Them Aside – If at all possible, separate your child from his or her friends before doing anything more than acknowledgment; explaining to them in a one-on-one setting that there are repercussions for making poor behavioral choices is much more constructive than berating the child in the presence of their peers.
  3. Inform Them of Impending Discussions – When it’s not possible to pull your child aside, simply inform them that you’re aware of what they’ve done, and will be discussing it and the resulting disciplinary action when you get home.
  4. Keep Your Voice Down- Never shout at your child, especially in a group setting. In addition to creating the impression that you’re an angry parent, it also embarrasses your child by attracting more attention to the situation.
  5. Avoid Humiliation – Belittling a child is never acceptable, but it’s certainly not the right track when they’re surrounded by others. It is possible to be respectful of your children while expressing disapproval for their actions, and it’s the best possible route in public.
  6. Don’t Talk About Behavior While Driving – If you’re at an event or away from home when the behavioral problem occurs, avoid the temptation to discuss it on the way home. In addition to the risk of distraction-related accidents, the trip will give you time to sort your thoughts and cool off.
  7. Don’t Make Threats – Threatening your child with a punishment in front of their friends definitely falls under the “Humiliation” header for them, but it can cause other parents to become suspicious.
  8. Avoid Commenting on Their Friends’ Behavior – Even if you know that one of your child’s friends was the ringleader, it’s best not to engage that child or attempt to scold them. Emphasizing the importance of making the right choice when others aren’t is the key to instilling a sense of self in your child.
  9. Don’t Be Critical – Making criticizing remarks about your child’s behavior or abilities is hurtful anytime, but that pain is compounded if the remarks are overheard. Choose your words carefully, and avoid “You always…” and “You never…” statements.
  10. Keep It Short and Simple – Long lectures will leave your child’s mind wandering and can also create an opportunity for their peers to tease them later.
Regardless of your parenting style, disciplining a child in public is bound to be awkward for both parties. The most important thing to keep in mind is that humiliating your child will only lead to more behavioral problems; try to solve things as quickly and constructively as possible.

Happy parenting!

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