The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: How to discipline your kids in front of their friends

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to discipline your kids in front of their friends

This guest blog with valuable information comes from my friends at www.hireananny.com.  In fact, this advice is awesome whether your child is with friends, family, or in public. 

When your child acts out in front of his friends or classmates, figuring out the best way to discipline him without humiliating him in the presence of others or damaging his self-esteem isn’t always easy. These delicate situations demand careful handling to ensure that your child understands what he’s done wrong and that there will be consequences for his actions, all without incurring the teasing wrath of onlooking peers.

Privately Acknowledge His Behavior
If you’re unable to send your child the message that his behavior is unacceptable without garnering the attention of his friends, it’s best to pull him aside briefly to acknowledge it in the most private manner possible. Separating your child from the situation allows you to discuss the matter without the added pressure of observing eyes, and is far more effective than harshly scolding him in front of other children his age. Sometimes simply pointing out that the behavior he’s exhibiting isn’t appropriate is enough to remind a child that he’s allowing himself to get carried away, which is something that’s easy for youngsters to do when they’re part of a crowd.

Let Him Know – Quietly – That You’ll Be Discussing the Matter Later
There may be times when your child is misbehaving in a crowd, but pulling him aside to reprimand him isn’t feasible. Rather than resorting to public shaming, let him know that the two of you will be having a conversation later about how he’s acting and that there are consequences from his choice to comport himself in such a manner. In addition to preventing a public confrontation that has the potential to be deeply embarrassing for both of you, this method will also give your child a chance to consider his misbehavior and give you the opportunity to regain your composure. Angry discussions are rarely productive ones when it comes to correcting kids’ behavior, and the forced cooling-down period can benefit you both tremendously.

Be Calm and Respectful of His Feelings
Maintaining a firm grip on your temper isn’t always easy when your child is acting out in front of other people, but it’s important to remember that allowing yourself to lose control will only make the situation worse for both of you. Shouting at your child in a group setting will not only leave his friends and their parents with a less than favorable opinion of your parenting tactics, but it will attract more attention to the behavior in question than is warranted. Being publicly berated by a parent or caregiver is also a very belittling experience for a child, which can cause him to lash out in an attempt to regain some of his pride. Expressing disapproval regarding your child’s behavior can be done respectfully and is the best way to approach the situation when you’re in public or at home.

Don’t Threaten or Criticize
Threats of serious consequences for misbehaving in the presence of his friends, even empty ones made in a fit of anger, will cause your child to feel shame and embarrassment, and can also cause any onlooking parents to become concerned about the disciplinary tactics you resort to privately. Openly criticizing your child’s behavior or personality will almost certainly damage his self-esteem and make him feel badly about himself any time, but making these cruel observations in front of his friends will only amplify that pain. Carefully consider your phrasing and tone before taking any corrective action, especially when you’re in public and your child’s sense of pride hangs in the balance.

Keep Accusations and Comments About His Friends to Yourself
There will be times when you’re certain that your child’s misbehavior is the result of a friend’s negative influence, but it’s never a good idea to broach the subject in front of the group. Even if you’re sure that a particular event is the result of a friend encouraging your child to behave badly or break the rules, it’s not your job to parent someone else’s child or make any comments about their behavior publicly. If you feel that acknowledging a bad influence needs to be part of your private conversation with your child later, avoid the temptation to emphasize his friend’s responsibility. In the end, teaching your child the importance of making the right choices, even when everyone around him is doing the opposite, is essential as he gets older. Learning to resist peer pressure at an early age will benefit your little one greatly when he becomes a teenager and is faced with more difficult and dangerous choices.

Wait Until You’re at Home to Discuss the Matter, and Keep it Brief
When your child misbehaves publicly it can be an understandably embarrassing experience for you. However, it’s important that you maintain your composure until you’re safely at home, resisting the urge to immediately begin an anger-fueled lecture the moment the two of you get into the car. In addition to posing a significant distraction risk while you’re on the road, tackling the subject while it still stings can easily cause you to say things in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later. Take the chance to collect yourself and get your temper under control while you’re on the road so that you can have a more productive conversation when you’re calmer. Keep in mind that even the most remorseful child is likely to become bored and frustrated with a long-winded lecture, and keep your conversation short, direct and to the point.

Happy parenting!

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