Friday, February 14, 2014

Top 10 tips for polite children in public

I often get complimented on how well my children behave in public, I have many Mum's ask me 'what my secret is" and strangers are frequently saying what lovely manners Poppy has. 

It's such a lovely feeling knowing that all my hard work (oh yeah there is a whole lot of behind the scenes work) pays off! 

My three are by no means perfect and there are times when we are out that they will be tired or crabby, but it is very rare and it's great to have some little tricks up your sleeve for these times.

I thought I would share my top 10 tricks for a well behaved child in public...

1. Timing is everything: 
Do you really need to go into the middle of town on a Friday at 5pm? Prams are annoying to others at the best of times but the more people the more frustrating, save your shopping for a Monday morning when the shops are quieter and the children are not due for their nap.

2. Come prepared:
We don't have pre-packaged chips, biscuits or drinks (like pop-tops) at home. I like to save those special treats for when we are out and about and its a real novelty. When stuck in line or out for a coffee, a packet of tiny teddies can be a savour. Fruit is great also, and usually offered before the packaged biscuits, mini packets of sweets are a last resort.

3. 'Look how naughty he is being":
When we are out and about and we can hear another child screaming and being naughty, I pull my children to the side and quietly say, "look how naughty that boy/girl is being, everyone is looking at him and thinking how silly he is".
Without making a big deal about it, it lets my children know that's not an appropriate way to behave in public.

4. Responsibility:
Being dragged around shops you are not interested in is boring for anyone, let alone small children who have short attention spans. Getting your child to help with small tasks along the way makes them feel wanted, and responsible. Can they find the number 8 on the shoes you are looking for? Perhaps they can carry some bags? And of course little tasks like pressing the button on the lift or putting money in the meter is always fun.

5. Electronics:
We have never let our children play with our electronics (phones, tablets, computer...) at home, they are expensive, precious items that aren't really children's toys anyway. In saying that we have Leap Pads for the children that are only brought out when we are out in public and need some entertainment. I will also have a children's app downloaded on my phone for real 'emergency' situations (like when all other options have failed!). This will always stop my child fussing as it is a very rare treat that is savoured.

6. Hide toys:
If you know you are taking everyone out in a few days hide a few small favourite toys a couple of days before you go out and then take them along in your bag on the outing, when needed whip them out and you will be their hero!

7. Talk to strangers:
Get your little one to buy their own treat at the counter, give the money to the server and say 'please' and 'thank you", order their drink off the waitress or say 'hello' to that Granny that comes to peek in your pram. The more they feel comfortable talking to 'strangers' the more likely they are to use manners around them, if they bump into someone in an aisle they need to know it's polite to say 'sorry' or 'excuse me' if they need to get past.

8. Pick your battles:
Sometimes it's fine to let things slide. Pretend you didn't hear your little one speak rudely or snatch something from a brother or sister if it's not fussed about. No one likes to make a scene in public, if it's only little and you know your child is good 90% of the time, let it slide.

9. Feed your child before dinner:
When we are taking the children out for dinner with friends, I always feed them first, you never know if your friends are going to be there on time, how long it will take for meals to come out or if they will have anything suitable on the menu. Even though they have already eaten we order the children some chips or something that is a treat to share and they don't get frustrated while waiting.

10. Talk to them:
Let your children know where they are going before you go. Tell them how you think the night will go and what behaviour you expect of them. When Poppy comes to dinner with Tommy and I, I have a conversation with her that goes something like: "Daddy and I are going to go to dinner with some friends tonight and we would love you to come, you will have to sit up at the big table and then we will pick something yummy from the menu to eat for dinner, we will talk to our friends and I'm going to bring some colouring in for you to do". I will also mention some questions that might be nice to ask some people at the table such as "what did you order for dinner?", "did you have a nice day today?", or a compliment like "I like your necklace...". Having them prepared makes them feel confident and excited for where they are going.

My all time favourite tip is... praise and reward you child for good behaviour! It doesn't have to be at the time, sometimes at bed time I will say "I have a little treat for you because when we went to the shops today, you were such a good boy, sitting up quietly and helping Mummy" and I will give them a glow stick or read an extra book.

What about you? Do you have any tips for taking your little ones out?

I would love to hear!

Happy Friday!! x


I love that you have stopped by, and love reading your thoughts and opions, thanks for sharing. xx