I know we’ve all been there many times—those agonizing and embarrassing moments when our children misbehave in a public.
Well, it happened to me yesterday. My son and I went to pick up my daughter from school, and I allowed both children to run around on the playground before whisking them off to my daughter’s orthodontist appointment scheduled for a half an hour after school got out.
When the time came for me to round them up and leave the playground, my daughter immediately came over. But my son, with a devilish smile on his face, looked at me and ran away to the jungle gym.
Since I was trying to get out of the school yard as quickly as possible, I put down all of the coats, backpacks, and keys that I was holding, and ran up the jungle gym to catch him.
I got to the top of the jungle gym just in time to watch him smile that same devilish smile, giggle a bit, and then slide down a slide—leaving me standing on top of the jungle gym. He took off again once his feet hit the ground.
Now, I have always been proud of my non-permissive parenting style, and am not afraid to slightly raise my voice, or threaten and carry out appropriate punishment when my children misbehave – when I am in the privacy of my own home.
I consider my children to be well-behaved and well-mannered, partly because of this. However, when misbehavior occurs in the presence of more than 20 other moms it can be a whole new ball game.
While I’ve always said that I am not self-conscious about my parenting style because I believe it is effective, I realized yesterday that if I raised my voice to my son, or threatened a time out, or to take away his favorite toy, I might be judged—and that made me uncomfortable.
So I ran down the jungle gym, caught my son, gathered my daughter, pleasantly bid the mothers farewell and marched off the playground …five minutes late to my daughter’s appointment.
That was the end of the story until I described the scene to my husband during dinner last night.
“What did you do about it?” my husband asked.
“Well, I guess nothing,” I said.
“Then, he’s going to do it again,” replied my husband.
And I realized he was right.
The problem is that it is hard to appropriately discipline my children when I'm in public where I might be around other parents who could judge my actions.
It’s also sometimes hard to think on my feet in these situations. If I had to do it again, I would have punished my son for his blatant defiance when we returned home. But after my daughter’s appointment, and our drive home, I had completely forgotten about it.
So it turns out I don’t have the perfect solution for disciplining my child when it is necessary. Do you?
As a mom, have you ever felt self-conscious about disciplining your children when you are in public?