I know all parents have been put in a situation where their child misbehaves whilst they are in a social setting. This leads to the awkward position of deciding how to deal with the child’s behaviour without ruining the whole mood of the event.
If you turn a blind eye to keep the peace, will you be encouraging your child to misbehave when they go out, as they learn they can get away with it? Furthermore, will your friends also think that you let your child run riot without setting boundaries for them? On the other hand, if you choose to discipline your child, will it highlight your child’s poor behaviour whilst putting a dampener on proceedings? Will your friends think you are a tiger mum who can’t relax whilst your kids play?
In short, it sometimes feels like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
As with every element of parenting, I believe the answer lies in your gut feel. Sometimes a glare is enough of a signal to your child that you are aware of what they are doing and that there will be consequences. If a child is in a position where they are hurting another person, then of course you have to intervene and discipline your child. The severity of the child’s behaviour should guide your reaction.
Consistency is also paramount. If you enforce the desired behaviour all the time, your child should learn how to behave and understand the expected outcomes for poor behaviour.
No one wants to socialise with someone whose child is a monster wreaking havoc, but neither do they want to socialise with a person who can’t focus on a conversation because they are constantly interrupting to counsel their child. As parents we need to find a happy medium that works to satisfy our social needs, as well as our child’s.
It is human nature to want to show off the best version of ourselves in front of our friends, so we don’t like to show our ‘disciplinarian parent side’. However, sometimes you need to unmask this side of yourself when socialising to ensure your child doesn’t run riot. Don’t worry if you have to reprimand your child in front of your friends – if they have kids, there is a good chance they have been in your shoes at one point in time!
(Image courtesy of vlado, freedigitalphotos.net)