Help! My child is out of control

By admin
26 May 2014

Most parents have been in this tricky situation before: you’re in a shopping mall, surrounded by strangers, when your child throws a full-on tantrum. Maybe it’s about a toy you didn’t buy them, or the sweets they wanted that aren’t good for their health. We give advice on handling this tricky situation.

Most parents have been in this tricky situation before: you’re in a shopping mall, surrounded by strangers, when your child throws a full-on tantrum. Maybe it’s about a toy you didn’t buy them, or the sweets they wanted that aren’t good for their health. The question is: do you give in to your child’s demands, or exercise discipline there and then, irrespective of the disapproving looks cast in your direction by strangers? Discipline in itself is a thorny issue, and it becomes even more complicated to dish out when your child’s acting up in public.

Understand the behaviour

Parents can break the vicious cycle of public disobedience only if they understand their child’s behaviour, says Nikki Bush, an author and specialist in the field of creative parenting. “If you don’t read their basic needs of being tired, hungry, thirsty, bored or in need of attention they’ll use negative attention-seeking behaviour strategies to draw your attention to them,” she says.

Nikki says various factors could account for a child being disobedient:

  • You may be busy and their disobedience is a way of letting you know they feel neglected.
  • Your child may have tried to attract your attention in subtle ways. Their loud disobedience is their final attempt at getting it.
  • Your child feels out of control and their behaviour is a way of feeling in control.

Be consistent

It’s essential to be consistent in disciplining, says Eva Burger, a counsellor based in Bellville, Cape Town. “Children can find it confusing if the rules or the consequences change in different situations, like when in public,” she explains. “Check children even if you’re right in the middle of a mall.”

You don’t have to feel embarrassed about disciplining your child in public, she says. On the contrary, you’re teaching them that you’re keeping your word, Eva explains. She says it’s important not to delay punishment too long, especially in the case of children younger than six.

“It’s important that kids know what they’re being punished for, so the consequences of misbehaviour must be implemented straight after the misbehaviour occurs.”

If you don’t want to make a scene in front of other people take your child aside, Nikki suggests. “There’s no point embarrassing yourself or your child. It’s destructive and you want to break the negative behaviour cycle, not perpetuate it.”

Discuss the rules first

“It’s often a good idea to set the rules before you go out in public.” Eva says. “This allows your child to know that their actions will have consequences and they know what the consequences are.

“Children generally respond well to being given a clear plan of what’s going to happen at the supermarket or the restaurant,” Nikki says. “It gives them the idea that you’re in charge and they know what’s expected of them and what might happen.”

How to handle your child’s public tantrum:

  • Don’t try to argue with the child, Nikki says. One of the biggest mistakes parents make when their kids get out of control is to retaliate.
  • Try to distract the child. When they start nagging because they’re not getting their way, focus their attention on things around them. For example you could say, “Okay, let’s look for the red tins on the shelf”, or “Go and count how many plastic balls there are in the restaurant’s play area.”
  • If your child is still being disobedient, calmly take them by the hand and lead them to a quiet area. Explain why their behaviour is unacceptable and that they should apologise. If they don’t want to cooperate explain that you’ll be going home immediately if their attitude persists.
  • If your child throws a tantrum in public you need to leave quickly. “Pick your child up, hug them tightly and exit the building,” Nikki says. Then explain in the car or at home why their behaviour has consequences and let them cool off in their room.

- Shané Barnard

Extra sources: parentdish.com, parents.com

Come and like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and pin along on Pinterest.

Find Love!

Men
Women