One of the biggest fears and frustrations parents have is taking their children out in public. One wrong word (the word NO) can send a child into a raging fit, and if a child gets bored who knows what he or she is capable of. Misbehaving children can draw glares from some people, causing parents to feel as though are bad parents. To make matters worse these "some people" feel as though the rest of the world needs to know they sat next to a misbehaving child on a plane or in a restaurant by updating their Facebook status. These fears keep parents from going out and keep kids from learning how to behave in public.
First a word for those "some people," with the most loving and gracious heart can I please ask you to shut up? Thanks. Many worn out, tired and stressed parents will be most grateful for your patience and gracious attitudes towards them and their children. PLEASE remember you were once a child, and you STILL have your own mishaps as an adult.
A quick word for parents, honestly not as many people are glaring at you as you think. Many are sympathizing with you, remembering the days they raised their own children. Others find it humorous or sad. And others just love kids.
With this being said, let's figure out a way to teach our children how to behave in public (social space).
Community and Social Space I would first suggest that children being raised in community will adjust to social spaces more quickly. If you have not caught my drift yet, doing life in community has great benefits to raising children. In community our children learn to relax in the presence of others, wait their turn to talk and not interrupt others, and how to interact in conversation. These are just a few benefits that will help them adjust to a social space. You do not want your child screaming at you for attention while you are speaking with someone else. You also do not want your child to cause a scene just to gain attention either.
Our Social Experiment Living in community and doing life with people is great for learning, but most of our life together community is done in one another's houses and playgrounds. So in order to train our kids how to behave in social space we need to do something in public.
Robin and I have found a family friendly restaurant that does half-priced burgers on Tuesday nights. This is not a Chick-Fil-A that is actually built for kids, but a restaurant. If you need to begin with a more child-friendly place that is fine, but sending them off to play in the playground will not do the trick in the long run. We want our kids to be in a place where they will need to sit still, be quiet and have to wait for their food. However, we also do not want to go somewhere that is not kid friendly. The place Robin and I take our kids has crown and paper for them to color and draw on.
Next to the restaurant is a frozen-yogurt place. So after half-priced burgers we go to Josie's for desert. If Safari and Sojo did well, they will get receive desert. If not, they get to sit and watch us eat desert. The other week Sojo would not sit still in the booth and kept trying to get down and run around. When we corrected him, he threw a fit. Fortunately the restaurant is family friendly and we are getting to know the staff because we go every week. So they were gracious with us and we were thankful. When we got to Josie's and he realized he did not get desert he threw an even bigger fit. He actually fell down on the ground and and started kicking!
Thank You Well...I did what any good parent would do and started laughing and taking pictures of him.
A lady who overheard us telling another about our routine and social implementation experiment came and told us how appreciative she was of our parenting in this situation. She was a teacher and explained that most parents today believe it is the teachers responsibility to teach the kids to behave properly. She literally said thank you for not rewarding Sojo's bad behavior!
Robin, Safari and I got our frozen yogurt and began eating. In just a few minutes, after realizing he was not going to get his, Sojo decided it was time to start behaving properly. He was being funny, smiling and joking around with us. And guess what? He still did not receive his desert! As we were leaving he asked us to take his picture which you have seen above. AND....guess who behaved well the next week? Both did.
There are many family friendly restaurants you can choose from. I suggest finding one and sticking with it. This will help you get to know the staff of the restaurant which makes it easier when they do throw fits. You can typically find restaurants where kids eat free on certain nights making it more affordable as well.
The point here is to give them a somewhat controlled environment so they can begin learning how to behave in social spaces. They will begin to learn only when you begin training. We also invite other families to come along with us to make it more fun for the family. So you are welcome to join us if you are ever in the area.