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When your child misbehaves socially
Rupal Patel
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May 29, 2007

Part I -- Does your child throw tantrums in public?

When your kids misbehave in public it can be downright embarrassing, and it is natural to want to put a stop to such behaviour immediately, especially if others are looking on. A child involved in a fight with other children is one such situation where parents make the common mistake of getting involved. What parents don't realise is that while their interference might settle the situation at that point, they may be sending out the wrong message to their son or daughter.

The rule of thumb is to keep out of fights between children unless there is violence involved, and danger of somebody getting hurt. Mrs Prabhu, mother of six-year-old Seena, kept complaining to me about the problem she faced every time she took her daughter for a playdate with other kids. She described one such situation to me.

She and a few mothers had taken their children to the park. The children were playing on the swings and slides while the mothers sat chatting nearby. Very soon, there was a commotion. The mothers rushed to the spot only to see Seena and her friend Rita pulling at a swing from either side, not allowing the other to sit. Mrs Prabhu told Seena to let go and take turns playing on the swing. Rita's mother, however, didn't say anything to either of them. She just stood there and decided to allow the girls to sort out the issue themselves.

When Seena didn't relent, Mrs Prabhu finally pulled her hand away from the swing. Seena started crying, saying, "I waited for my turn and she just came in the middle. You don't care about me, you only care about other children!" Embarrassed and annoyed, Mrs Prabhu began shouting at Seena, telling her she didn't know how to behave and threatening that they would never make a plan like this again. The poor child was inconsolable and sat alone on a bench for the rest of the evening.

Another complaint most parents have is nightmarish shopping trips. There's always a 'what's in it for me?' attitude that seeps in when you take a child shopping. Children throw tantrums when they see something they want, and parents usually give in to avoid the embarrassment. Most children can skilfully use a tantrum to manipulate their parents and get what they want.

However, there are some techniques parents can use to avoid being held to ransom by their kids:

Remember, the key to good parenting is communicating with your child and setting boundaries. Knowing what is acceptable behaviour helps your child learn how to interact with you and with others in social situations. Boundaries also help avert socially uncomfortable scenarios like tantrums, and encourage a happier parent-child relationship.

Part I -- Does your child throw tantrums in public?

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