The responsibility of disciplining a child lies mostly on the part of the parents. It is a major part of parenting to discipline our child no matter where you are. This could mean that you have to discipline your child in public since it’s ineffective to teach your child if your rules lack consistency. We must remember that disciplining our children in public is different than the disciplining that we do within the privacy of our homes. We need to be discreet and consider other extra measures when it comes to disciplining our children in public.

Once in a while, we and our children need to go to public places for a lot of reasons. Being preoccupied or distracted should not be reasons for our children to get away with misbehaving when you are out in public; if they do, they are quick to learn that they can misbehave in public in public because they will not be punished. Here a few tips we can consider should there be a need to discipline our children in public so that each trip outdoor with them can be worthwhile and everyone will go home happy.


Set Rules and Expectations Beforehand

We have to talk to our children about a) where we are going, b) what we will be doing and c) how we expect them to behave. We should let them know that there will be consequences for bad behavior and that in the future, they may not be able to join us on family outings if they do not behave. It’s a good idea to let them know that they will be punished if they do bad things. Even the threat of punishment is enough to thwart bad public behaviour in our children. Also remember to offer incentives and rewards if they get through the entire trip with excellent behavior. Encouragement and constant reminder for our children are keys to a good public time with them and reinforcing their good public behaviour is essential for continuing the behavior. We have to remember that setting rules will be purposeless if there is no follow-through behind them. If a punishment is set, go through with it. Also, if there is a reward, be sure to give it. Remember, reinforcement is important in molding our children’s behavior.


Be Discreet and Considerate

Always bear in mind that discipline, regardless of where we apply it, should be about correcting a negative behavior, not belittling or badmouthing our children. The goal of discipline is to let our children why their action is wrong and what we would like them to do instead.

For some children, a quick glare or “no” gesture will let them know to stop what they are doing, while for others, a gentle reminder will do. We have to be clear and specific in disciplining our children: saying “Stop it!” isn’t enough; we need to take it further by saying “Stop making a mess on the table. Eat moderately and properly.” We also need to be discreet in disciplining our children in public by doing so without letting everyone present know what is happening. Raising our voice of putting them in a spot where everyone will be looking at them will affect their self-esteem and do more harm than good for our children. Discipline should be between us and our children and should not involve anyone else.

If our children need a bit more disciplining than a look or a reminder, then remove them from the group and talk to them privately. We should let them know we do not approve their bad behavior and let them know what we expect. We should tell them they will not be allowed to continue playing (or whatever they may be doing) if their behavior does not change. We should make good of the warning we tell; if they don’t start behaving, remove them from their play and have them sit quietly on a different spot instead.


Follow Through and Be Consistent

The importance of following through in discipline cannot be emphasized enough. If we have set the rules and warnings to our children and have let them know what the consequences, following through with the punishment is a must, and it should be immediate. Telling them that they are in trouble when we get home will be ineffective if they are allowed to continue what they are doing for the moment. By the time we get home, they have forgotten the reason why they are being punished and the punishment will have little to no effect.

Disciplining our children, especially in public, needs our willingness to immediately do whatever it takes to correct the bad behavior and our willingness to consistently follow through. Disciplining our children requires sacrifice on our part as well, so we have to be ready and engaged at all times. If ever our child is misbehaving and we’re following through on our warning to make them sit in the car or in a timeout somewhere while out in public, we have to sit with them. While this could be the not-so-fun part of our outing, it’s an effective way of letting our child know that we are serious when we threaten punishment.

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