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Does your child throw tantrums in public?
Rupal Patel
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May 28, 2007

When your child acts up or throws a tantrum, it is never welcome, and when it happens in a public place, it can be downright embarrassing. We live in a society that is judgmental in its attitude towards parents and children. Comments like "What sort of parents are they? Can't they control their child?" or "This child is such a nuisance -- just doesn't stay put" are commonplace, and parents of troublesome children often find themselves at the receiving end.

Children are not always accepted as they are, and parents are under constant scrutiny for the way they deal with unruly kids. Moms and dads fear being judged as 'bad parents', so they shout, humiliate and criticise their child in public just to prove that they are good disciplinarians, not realising how this affects the parent-child relationship and what impact their behaviour has on the child.

A parent once complained to me about how his child behaved in the restaurant of a five-star hotel. The father lost his patience and started shouting at his son, saying, "I am never bringing you to a restaurant again! You don't know how to behave yourself. You have just been running around all over the place when I have told you so many times to sit in one place and eat your food. If you don't do that now, I am going to spank you." His son shouted back, "I only want to eat ice-cream, and I want it now!"

To most of us, this is a common scenario, whether we're parents or just fellow patrons. But there could be more to such a tantrum than just discipline issues. Let's analyse the situation. The child in question was Rahul Mehra, a three-year-old out for dinner with his parents, aunt and uncle. It was 11 pm; they had been there for over an hour and the main course had just been served. When his father got angry, Rahul started crying loudly. Mr Mehra, anxious about what the people around would think, started screaming louder to prove that he was in control. Predictably, his son's tantrum only gained in momentum, and Rahul began crying even louder.

Given this instance, you may think it's not advisable to tag your three-year-old along for a meal. On the other hand, family outings are an important part of any child's life -- parents, therefore, need to understand their children, and keep in mind a few simple tips to avoid tantrums.

Why did Rahul behave the way he did, and what could Rahul's parents have done to save themselves the embarrassment? Here are a few points we can take into consideration:

So plan ahead, encourage good behaviour, keep in mind your child's moods, and follow through with consequences. You might not be able to avert every tantrum, but this strategy gives your child boundaries and will keep those embarrassing sideward glances at bay the next time you go out for a meal.

Part II -- When your child misbehaves socially

Rupal Patel has done her child psychology from the National School of Health and Sciences, London. She also holds a diploma in early child care and education ORT India and Oxford. Rupal has been holding workshops for parents for the last five years.

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