How to encourage toddlers to behave in public

Here’s an article I wrote for Helium,nearly 2 years back-it was deleted due to leapfrog..but,I just wanted to share it here.

It was our regular Wednesday mall outing.My daughter,was 18 months old then.We both had always enjoyed our day at the mall till then.But something went wrong that day.I don’t even remember what triggered the meltdown,but it went on for more than 45 minutes.I tried to calm her ,paced around with her,pushed her around in the stroller,offered her a drink,a snack,tried all the usual things,but nothing worked.When I couldn’t take it anymore,I just sat down with her,in a quiet corner and rocked her back&forth,till she stopped.We were both tired and spent.That was one of her first meltdowns.We have had many more since then.But,now,I have learned to anticipate the meltdown,before it occurs.

I realised that encouraging your toddlers to behave in public or at home is more about watching them and their cues.Now I steer her clear of possible triggers-like a carousel(when we don’t have enough time) and distract her,mid-tantrum.I have realised that consistency is the key to good behaviour.you cannot have different rules for home and outside.If you expect your child to share,be gentle,say please and thank you,when you are in public,then,you have to start with training him/her to do the same at home.And toddlers aim to please.My daughter loves being appreciated,and thats exactly what we do every time,she does something right.

Restaurants and long queues top the list,as tantrum triggers.It is really hard to keep your child in her seat,when she sees other kids,running around.I carry new toys,to distract my daughter.They keep her busy for sometime.Playing some interactive games work too.But,its a good idea to be ready to leave,or take your child outside,if the tantrum gets out of hand.

It is very easy to get carried away,when you are excited.In play areas,we watch her,remind her to be gentle,to share but at the same time,we don’t want to be over-bearing.I prefer to stand back and watch,stepping in only when required.Just the other day,we were in the play place and this boy,was pushing everyone,not sharing the toys.Other moms watched for a bit,waiting for his mom to step in and when she didn’t,one of the moms told him to stop pushing,a bit sternly.Then,the mother came in rushing,flushed.To hide her embarrassment,she scolded the child,embarrassing him,in turn.Personally,I would rather intervene sooner,than be embarrassed later.

My daughter is almost two years old now and we see a remarkable change in her behaviour,both at home and outside.She shares easily,says thank you and please,without prompting,listens to Nos and generally,collects a lot of compliments about being a well-behaved child.Some days are bad too..but all of us have our good and bad days and so,do our toddlers.If we keep that in mind,I think we would be able to tide over bad days and with consistence and positive reinforcement,we can hope for good behaviour,MOST of the times.


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