Feb 27, 2012

Public Displays of . . . The Ugly Side

On Saturday we surprised our kiddos with a trip to The Children’s Museum.  We haven’t been there in a while.  We have a yearly pass and we like to make sure we get our money’s worth out of it.  Having the pass allows us to visit for an hour or two and come back another day.  We don’t feel as if we need to see every aspect of the museum because we can just come back another day.  The museum is a great child friendly place to visit.  They offer activities, with both gross and fine motor skills, for kids of all ages along with a variety of interests.

 Our typical plan of attack is to allow B to choose one area that he would like to visit and G is allowed to select an area as well.  Depending upon the amount of time we want to spend we may even find one area for them to come to a consensus on and visit that area as well.  We end most visits with a ride on the Merry –Go-Round.  One of the perks of being a member is getting free Merry-Go-Round rides.

B and G digging for fossils!

 Over all we had a super visit, this time that is.  Everyone was happy with where we visited and the amount of time spent in each area.  Before heading to the Merry-Go-Round we explained that this would be the last hurrah for the day (we find that our kids tend to handle changes better when they are given a sequence of events in advance).  As we departed the museum for the day we encountered a family whose leaving luck was not going as well as ours.

 My heart went out to this poor mother as we headed to our car.  Let’s face it, we have all been there!  It is one of the most horrific feelings . . . here you are out in public and your wonderful child thinks this is the perfect time to show his/her ugly side!  It is one of the truest tests of a parent’s patience.  She was handling the situation like a pro; she maintained her cool, and a calm but firm voice she simply explained to her child that the crying needed to stop and that it was time to go.  My blood began to bubble when Looky-Lous (not a real word, so I’m not positive on the ‘correct’ spelling) groups passed her and gave her the ‘How could you allow your child to behave this way in public?!’ look.  I really wanted to approach the lookers and say:

 “Come on, like you’ve never been there?  It’s not like she said to her child ‘can you please scream at the top of your lungs and draw massive attention to us?’.  Would you like someone looking at you and criticizing with their eyes?  Also, she’s not screaming, beating, and berating her child (like I have seen some parents do).  Oh and by the way since you’re parent of the year how about you step in and show us all a thing or two?!”

By no means do I claim to be a pro when it comes to this parenting thing, but Brent and I have found a few tricks that proven to be successful with our kids.  I would also like to add that despite the fact that both B and G came from the same parents they both have VERY different personalities and what works with one doesn’t always work with the other (imagine that).

G (my 3 year old) is much more, how would you say well . . . high maintenance than B.   He is not affected by other around him.  He says what he thinks no matter where he is, at home or in public.  When his ugliness comes out (Brent and I fondly refer to him as Grouchy G at that point, aren’t we nice?) he is LOUD and there is absolutely no calming him down until he is ready to calm himself down.  A trick we have found to be helpful with him is to simply say “Do we need to go wait outside?” as he is beginning to become agitated.  9 times out of 10 this is all that needs to be said for him to regain his composure.  Now on the off chance that he is feeling extra grouchy and the unwanted behavior continues, well either Brent or I will remove him from the area.  When outside with him I make sure he is safe (not running around a parking lot) and let him get the fit out of his system.  I do tell him that we will not go back in until he calms down.  When he does eventually calm down (sometimes it feels as if this process takes HOURS) we talk about why he was upset.  I try to find the appropriate words to help him express his frustration in a calm fashion rather than erupting like a volcano.   He then apologizes and states what he did that was not appropriate and finally, we return to the prior activity.

 As for Mr. B (my 6 year old), he tends to be more laid back than G.  For the most part he is very go with the flow and is a big Mommy pleaser!  Most of the time the Mommy look is enough to snap him into shape!  Last year at preschool his teachers told me that when he got out of hand (apparently this didn’t happen very often, so I’m glad to know that) they would simply say, “You need to stop or we’re going to have to call Mommy."  When he gets out of hand it’s typically because he’s bored.  Redirecting his attention and occupying his mind and energy help to down play his misbehavior.  For example if he begins picking on G when we are the store I encourage him to look for as many triangles as he can find and count them.  I have also gone down book isle and allowed him to select a book to read (if by chance we didn’t bring something from home).

I’m sure as Baby M grows up she will bring yet another diverse personality into our mix and we will be searching for tricks that work with her. 

What strategies do you use to help your children behave appropriately in public?

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