Disrespectful Discipline: Speak to your kids in private

by epi on June 25, 2013

Q: The other day, I was in line at the grocery store when I overheard a woman reprimanding her teenage son for the way that he had behaved earlier in the day. She was neither quiet nor discrete in scolding him; in fact, the cashier and I exchanged a glance acknowledging the uncomfortable situation. Is there etiquette related to this kind of thing?

A: As a parent, you are, of course, responsible for letting your child know when his or her actions have been inappropriate or disrespectful. But do so in private after the heat of the situation dwindles and you are home in a secure spot. Showing your child this respect will win you points – and will teach him or her respect.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Winifred Rosenburg June 25, 2013 at 8:19 am

I agree with EPI since it is an older child. I wonder though for younger children if the same would apply. I’ve noticed some parents take a more passive role when they are in public, I’m guessing because they’re embarrassed to reprimand their child with people watching. It seems like sometimes younger children (around 3-6) realize that they can get away with more when there are people watching and use it to their advantage. Sometimes it even puts the burden on other adults who should not be responsible for parenting someone else’s child to tell children not to hit, etc. I’m very much not an expert on parenting so I would appreciate other views on the subject


Mariette's Back to Basics June 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Since this was a teenage son that got scolded in public for something that happened earlier in the day, that was not correct. However, I do agree with Winifred Rosenburg in a way too passive role when parents are in public with little children. They ought to get corrected right on the spot so they understand what it is about!
Very interesting subject…
Mariette’s Backt to Basics


Heather June 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm

It really is a no-win situation sometimes with young children. My son is 2. At home we are very strict with him, and I TRY to be consistent when we are in public. However, the reality is that “correcting” a two-year-old (time out, take a favorite toy away, etc) often results in screaming, crying, flailing on the floor, etc. All of which would be much more disruptive to the strangers around us in the grocery store than it is to just let him get away with things. So there really isn’t a good solution– let him get away with grabbing things off the shelves, and people might notice and assume he’s a spoiled brat. Wrench the taken items out of his hands and return them to the shelves, he will react in totally natural two-year-old fashion, and people might assume he is a spoiled brat!


Joanna June 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

IMO that’s different – a two-year-old has such a short attention span that you pretty much have to correct any behavior right on the spot, or s/he will not associate the two together if it’s hours later. An older child, of course, is a different matter.


MM Thomas July 6, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Here’s how we cured dd of tantrums. When she threw a tantrum at home, we laughed and told her she was doing it all wrong. We then proceeded to show her how by screaming, falling on the floor and throwing our arms and legs about. 2 yr old dd looked at us as if we had gone insane. “Now you try it.” we said. She shook her head and never threw a tantrum again. When other children threw a tantrum around her, she would give them a funny look and shake her head disapprovingly.


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