Should you Spank your Toddler in Public

Toddlers often misbehave in public because they are still learning the rules of civilized behavior.  Just as parents teach their toddlers rules about bedtime behavior,  games they are not allowed to play inside and foods that are healthy for them to eat, there should also be rules for public decorum.  They should erect parameters of acceptable behavior both in the home as well as in public.

Be Consistent

If your rule is to allow your toddler one sweet per week, stick to it. If you take him with you to the supermarket, and he sees a lollipop and throws a tantrum, don’t give in. Of course, it’s embarrassing to have your child screaming to the top of his lungs, but it is more important that he learns  you mean what you say. If necessary take him outside until he quiets down. Talk softly and tell him why he cannot have the lollipop. When he sees you will not relent, he will calm down.

Do not spank the child in public

Get down to the eye level of the child. If he is screaming, denounce the behavior but not the child. Talk quietly until you get his attention. Proceed to discuss the behavior. Do not assume they don’t understand what you are saying, because if you use age appropriate language, chances are they will understand some of the words, the inflections, and the tone of your voice and speech. No matter how upset you are, be gentle. If you spank your child when you are angry, you teach him that problems are solved through violence and not through rational discourse and negotiation.

Try to determine the cause

Before taking your toddler out in public create a checklist.  Has he had his nap? When did he last eat? How long has he been out? Does he need a change of diapers? If you have ruled out the first four possible causes of his misbehavior in a public setting, perhaps he is simply bored. Consider taking one of your toddler’s favorite toys with you when you’re going anywhere that requires sitting. There are many handheld, electronic gadgets for children. You can never go wrong with coloring books as long as you oversee that the child colors only the pictures in the book and not anything else around him.

Take your toddler for a short walk

If all else fails, take the child for a brief stroll and re-direct his attention by pointing out sights along the way. Explain in animated details what you are seeing and give him time to join in. Soon you will be able to take him back to where you were and whatever triggered the outburst will probably have subdued.

Just as adults don’t always act properly in public, children will also have lapses. They are still learning what constitutes civilized behavior; therefore, parents should take each act of misbehaving as an occasion to teach them how they should act in civilized company. Tantrums are to be expected in toddlers because of the many limitations they are experiencing; it’s how parents handle them that makes a difference in a child’s life.