Wouldn’t raising a child be so easy if all children did everything that was asked of them at all times? Talk about living in a fantasy world! Since children are children, and we know that perfect behavior does not happen all of the time, there are ways to help teach your child about appropriate behavior no matter where you are. The most important tool that you can use about to teach your child how to act when you are out in public is to lay out your expectations for his/her behavior BEFORE you go and he/she creates a scene somewhere. Before I take my class of 25 students anywhere out of my classroom, whether it is a simple walk down the hall, or to attend an assembly, we always talk before about what I expect from them while we are out and about. My class repeatedly receives compliments for how we behave at school assemblies when others around us are misbehaving. This is because I always talk with my students about what I expect BEFORE we get to the assembly. You can do this too. The next time you have to take your child with you on errands (say I expect you to walk with me at the mall and not run off), or to grandma’s house (I expect you to respect Grandma’s house and not jump on the furniture), to a friend’s house (I expect you to play nicely with Johnny), to the store (I expect you to not ask for me to buy you candy/toys etc) to name just a few possible scenarios. Talk about what you expect BEFORE you leave your own house. Also tell your child what will happen if he/she does not do what you ask. Your child will better understand about making inappropriate behavior choices if you can remind him/her of your expectations and then deliver the consequences if needed. This is hard work on your part, but it does pay off when your child knows ahead of time what you expect each and every time you leave your house and gradually learns how to behave in all social situations.
Re-posted from 2009