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Misbehavior in Public Places: Rules and Discipline


Touching Things That Shouldn't Be Touched

  • Example

    Grabbing food off the shelves in the grocery store.

  • The rule

    "Don't touch anything without my permission, because everything here belongs to the store and some things can break."

  • Discipline technique

    Mainly, distract your child on arrival by getting her a snack, such as animal cookies.

    • Keep her involved by giving her safe foods to carry or having her push the grocery cart.
    • If she's sitting in the grocery cart seat, hand her foods to place in the basket.
    • Talk with your child as you shop so that she feels involved.
    • Avoid taking your 2-year-old to a store with lots of breakables, such as a glass shop.
  • Praise

    Praise your child for helping.

Having a Temper Tantrum in a Public Place

  • Example

    Often children have temper tantrums when they are not given a toy or candy at the store after they beg for it.

  • The rule

    "We buy only food at the grocery store, not toys."

  • Discipline technique

    Ignore your child and remain firm. If your child is having a temper tantrum in a safe place, walk on and he will stand up and follow you. If your child is near breakable objects or is a reckless child, take him outside for time-out. If he is annoying other people (as in a restaurant or church), take him outside.

  • Model

    No yelling or tantrums in the store.

Running Away from the Parent in a Store

  • The rule

    "Stay close to me in the store so you won't get lost."

  • Discipline technique

    Time-out. First try putting your child in the grocery cart for 2 or 3 minutes if she doesn't stay near you. If she won't stay in the grocery cart, take her outside and put her in time-out facing the wall of the building or sitting inside your car while you stand by. Consider buying a harness and bringing it with you to the store. Harness your child only if she wanders off. Remove it every 5 minutes, giving her a chance to prove that she can control herself in a public setting. As a last resort, leave your child at home with a sitter and be sure to tell her before you go to the grocery store that she can't come this time because she didn't stay near you.

  • Praise

    Praise your child for following you through the store.


Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2002-03-06
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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