Spring is in the air! The promise of better weather always gets me excited to spend time outdoors with my children. I like to take them to experience festivals, carnivals, and markets that are close to home. My oldest is getting to the age where he wants to have friends come along with us. But, I have a question for you… What do you do when the kid that your child wants to hang out with, doesn’t know how to act appropriate in a public setting?
Just last weekend I took my son to an art festival, I knew ahead of time that there would be an activity area that would keep his interest, so I used that to my advantage and we made a deal. If he acted like a gentleman while we walked the festival then I would in return reward him with sufficient time and money to spend in the children’s activity area. It worked like a charm for my family, for the other family that came with us, not so much!
The other child who came with us is a few years younger than mine. His behavior was obnoxious most of the day. His outbursts ranged from touching everything he was asked not to, trying to walk off on his own, and to making gross noises that sounded like bodily functions during lunch. It got to the point that my son didn’t want to be around him for fear of being “guilty by association.” As frustrating as it became I realized that you really do have to teach a child how to act. Acting appropriately is not something that just comes naturally, heck some adults still struggle with the concept.
Even though I thought my son just “knew better” I realized that it was because of his exposure to situations and the way I respond that have molded his behavior. I wouldn’t consider the technique I use to be a bribe, but more like positive reinforcement. This works well for my family because my kids know that by being well behaved, they will get rewarded. My rewards may be as simple as verbal praising, extra time on the playground, me joining in on a video game (even though I don’t really like to play), or a trip to get frozen yogurt after dinner.