How To Discipline In Public

10 Replies
ash2 - March 13

Well i know i might be posting alot more questions for older kids than infants, but i already know most of the infant stuff seeing that i have already been through it once, is my dilemma and maybe this is something that moms with older kids can answer ( rabbitts, bonnie, mcatherine, sahmof3 , etc...) When we are in public and DS acts up , how do you discipline them without causing a scene and spanking them ? He is getting a little too old to spank and i cant really just put him in a " timeout" right there in the grocery store. Also, when another kid hits your child and your child comes and tells you, what do you do / If you didnt see it you dont really want to sound like a possesive mom, then do you go up to the mom and tell her ? When this happens, i usually tell ashton to not play with kids that do not play nicely with him. But today we were on a playdate with my church and ones of the ladies boys pushed my son, and my son hit him, and so i put him in timeout, but the other boy started it ! And the other mom didnt do anything to him.....please advice ....


SonyaM - March 13

Ash2, our boys are about the same age I think. Here's what we do and have done for quite some time. He knows if he misbehaves we will just leave the store, party etc. We've done it and it works. When he was 2.5 we left a party at Chuck E Cheese and he still remembers that and he's almost 5 now. We've left Target, Walmart and our grocery store. Now the situation of what to do when other kids start something is harder. I think at a later date you can explain that you know your son didn't start it but that you can't control what other kids do. That's a hard one.


CyndiG - March 13

Well, as far as discipline in public, I usually grab her firmly by the wrist, pull her close to me, and whisper in my "mommy" voice, that is not acceptable, one more time and you lose ______. Whatever hurts the worst at the moment, tv, computer etc. Usually that works. I don't have much problem with her misbehaving in public anymore, she's 8, my problem is talking back. We are really trying to get a handle on that now, but it's the same consequence as far as discipline. As for another kid hitting mine, we just recently had this issue come up at school. Morgan is so sweet and pa__sive, she never says anything to anyone. A little girl was really bullying her. I had told her not to play with her, tell the teacher, tell her to stop, etc etc. One of the big problems was the girl was taking parts of her lunch. I finally told her that the next time it happened to just push her away from you and tell her no and when they took her to the office for being aggressive to tell them to call me immediately and I would deal with it. Luckily, it didn't come to that, she told her that if she touched her again she was going to hit her and it stopped. LOL! But I think that if the other kid starts it, they should be allowed to take up for themselves, after all avenues are taken of course. I would explain to your son that the next time this kid pushes him to come to you immediately and you will speak with his mom. It's not fair for your kid to get punished and not the other kid. I'm sure you feel the same judging by your post.....


kvilendrer - March 13

My 17-month-old will scream at the top of his lungs in public if he doesn't get what he wants. He will also hit his head on purpose when he gets mad. I don't usually know what to do in public. For us, screaming like that when you don't get your way is just unacceptable. So I have a hard time deciding what to do in public. I don't want people thinking I am some kind of tyrant. And I am also young, so a lot of people think that I am just too young to have a kid.


Nerdy Girl - March 13

I usually try to remove my daughter from the situation like Sonya said. But one word of advice - be careful with the firm grips or pulling on the wrist for kids under 5. I gave my daughter "nursemaids elbow" when I pulled her by the wrist in the middle of one of her tantrums when she was 3. We ended up in the ER. I was terrified that they were going to haul me away in a squad car for child abuse, but apparently nursemaids elbow is very common and it's very easy to do to a kid under 5. You have to pull them just right, and not even very hard. It's easy to pop back in place, but is supposed to be extremely painful. I guess I won't be winning any Mother of the Year awards for that one.


sahmof3 - March 14

Oh... do I ever hate this situation! I handled it by not taking my kids grocery shopping anymore lol. I actually went tonight... very late.... so dh can watch the kids while I go. I would love to be able to just leave the store, but we live too far from anything to do that. It would cost a fortune in gas to run home and make the trip again another time that week :-( Anyway, our biggest "problem place" right now is church. If you go out of the room where services are held, there's a long hallway that leads to a lobby that has a hard tile floor with hard tile steps... one set going up, one down. Of course my 20 month old is drawn to them!! When we don't let him play there he just screams and shrieks. Totally embara__sing! People are always leaving the door from the church room propped open, too, and my ds can get out so I'm always running around to keep up with him and keep him from escaping. ggrrr! I try my level best to distract him and keep him entertained to try to avoid a scene, it doesn't always work, though. I haven't run into the situation where another child hit or bullied mine yet (at least not when they were old enough to know happened when my oldest was like 1-2 yo, but the other moms were always right there and scooped their child up). Not sure how I'd handle it.


mcatherine - March 14

As far as discipline in public goes - there are several things that are effective for me that started around age 5, perfected by age 8. One: the look. He knows what it means. Two: The whispered phrase "You have 3 seconds, young man" (basically meaning you have 3 seconds to rethink your actions before I spank all 130 pounds of you in the middle of the store or in front of your friends- which wouldn't happen but if you don't tell him, I won't tell him!) Three: TV, Internet, phone, PS2/gameboy/DS, friends - he loses them in that order and he knows it. Four: We leave. And if we leave - his bedtime is moved to 8pm and he loses everything I mentioned above for 5 days - no exceptions. Ever. Oh, and when we go somewhere important - weddings, funerals, dinner with hub's boss, hub's office - that kind of thing - the rules are laid out ahead of time and repeated to me before we get out of the car. When he was younger - I had no problems pulling his behind into a bathroom stall to give him a startle to get him to pay attention. As he got older - it evolved into our four stages of ruining his life!! About your other prblem - well, let's just say that teaching your child it is not right to hit is a good lesson and putting him in time out for doing so is part of that lesson. That is where your responsibility ends - you cannot teach someone else's child how to act (even though there will hundreds of children you will literally want to strangle as the years go by and millions of mothers that stand by and do nothing about their own kids). It's a fine line of teaching them not to use violence to solve problems while teaching them to stand up for themselves. Now, if the kid continues to hit your child over and over and the mother doesn't say anything - I would have no problems walking up and asking her to go get her future bully off the playground. Anyway - that is how I handle things. Doesn't make it right for everyone, but it works for us. Over the years, I have learned the very important lesson of choosing my battles wisely - so when I do need to discipline - it is taken seriously.


mcatherine - March 14

Oh - and something we did when he was younger and acted up in a situation where it wasn't possible to discipline immediately: We made him stand in the corner when we got home - the minute we got home. No sitting, no leaning - and he had to tell us why he was standing there before we would let him turn around. I found it to be much more effective than sitting in a chair watching what was going on for entertainment. Same as time-out - a minute for each year.


BriannasMummy - March 14

When Brianna (whose 4) gets into some kind of tantrum and totally misbehaves on an outing... we leave the store.. leaving everything.. if she has somethings in a cart at walmart that she wants to buy.. we leave the things and the cart right there. We usually go out to the car.. and we have a talk or whatever.. she has her time out... and if things go well we go back inside the store. She knows that when we are leaving the store Im very very upset. When I say "if you dont stop it right now we are going to leave".. she totally changes. She usually behaves in public now.. but when she was 2 that was another story. As far as another child causing a fight.. 1. I tell Brianna to not play with the child that is hurting her or who isnt playing very nicely. 2. I go straight to the parent of that child and tell them whats going on. That way if Brianna is going to go to timeout for retaliating.. the other child's parent is aware that there is in fact a problem in the first place. Sometimes those situations can be very stressful. I have a friend that has a little boy that sits on Brianna all the time.. because he knows it overpowers her.. a good many arguments have started over this! I feel for ya! ~Kristin~


ash2 - March 14

Thanks so much , all of you ! Mcatherine i love your method ! Can i have your email address for future questions on these things ? You and rabbits are great , lol


mcatherine - March 14

Sure. m.cthrn(at)



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