5 Tips For Disciplining Your Child In Public

November 15, 2022

It’s a tale as old as time— your child acts like an angel until you get into the public eye. Some children may act out in public due to overstimulation, while others may feel like they are less likely to be disciplined in front of an audience. Regardless, disciplining your child in public can be frustrating and pull-your-hair-out-worthy. Although settling your child’s emotions can be tricky, it can be done.  

Disciplining Your Child In Public

There’s often a thin line between keeping your cool and being authoritative. Here at Holly Springs Pediatrics, we know disciplining your child in public is never fun but sometimes necessary. Try these six steps to tame your child’s public meltdown.

  1. Be Firm But Keep Your Composure

One of the most important things to keep in mind when disciplining your child is to remain calm while simultaneously standing your ground. It’s not abnormal for children to repeat negative behavior if you overreact, as children thrive on attention. Authoritative parenting focuses on creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child while setting limits, enforcing rules, and giving consequences. This also means praising good behavior and validating your child’s feelings. 

  1. Discipline In Private

When possible, try pulling your child aside and out of the public eye when disciplining them in public. In most cases, your child is more likely to be responsive and learn what to do in the future when they are removed from a crowd. In addition, scolding your child in public may leave them feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable, possibly putting strain on your relationship.

  1. Consider Your Child’s Needs

When disciplining your child in public, it is important to consider their needs and the possible reason behind their tantrum. Is your child tired, hungry, or overwhelmed? Some children may suffer from disorders that cause them to become overstimulated such as sensory processing disorder, while others may have more trouble resisting their urges due to ADHD. Trying to get to the root cause of the disobedient behavior can help you to diffuse the situation or even avoid problems before they start.

  1. Find Ways To Redirect

Redirection is a great tool when disciplining your child in public, as it can help turn their focus to something else when they begin to act out. There are two different ways to redirect your child, including: 

  1. Verbal redirection: Involves verbally requesting a behavior. When a child is doing something inappropriate, the parent tells them why this behavior isn’t acceptable and tells them what is. 
  2. Physical redirection: Involves the same steps as verbal direction while adding physical direction as well. 

Redirection may look different depending on the age of your child. For more age-appropriate redirection techniques, visit this resource.

  1. Be Consistent When Disciplining 

Let’s face it, no one can be consistent in anything 100% of the time, especially when it comes to disciplining your child. Consistency is important for kids because, over time, they will learn what behaviors and decisions inform certain outcomes. If your reactions change with each temper tantrum, it’s difficult for your child to decipher which behaviors are “working,” therefore, yielding favorable or unfavorable outcomes. When disciplining your child, be consistent, hold your ground, and follow through with your consequence. 

We get it— disciplining your child in public can be awkward and irritating, but sometimes it’s necessary. Identifying patterns and strategies that work for you and your child can help to tone things down when you’re out and about. Holly Springs Pediatrics is committed to providing quality care to your kids at all times on a wide array of subjects. Do you have more questions about disciplining your child? Call our Holly Springs, NC pediatric office at (919) 249-4700 to schedule an appointment or talk to a staff member.