Today I want to discuss what you should do when your difficult child acts out in public. I understand that when children act out in public we all feel the world is looking at us and we are easily embarrassed. But, the most important thing to do is stay focused on the problem at hand. You cannot let your child’s bad behavior get you sidetracked.

When your difficult child acts out he is sending you a message. Perhaps, he is over-tired, he is hungry, or he is in a situation he can’t handle. Even though it is embarrassing for you and you feel like everyone is watching you, you have to stay focused. The most important thing to remember when parenting your difficult child is your child comes first.

Your child needs you. He needs you to be a good parent. He needs you to be a strong parent and even though it is embarrassing for you, you have to focus on your child’s needs. So many times a child may need to eat, may need to get out of the situation, he may need redirection from his bad behavior, or he may need more attention from you.

Your difficult child acts out to give you a message. Even though it is embarrassing when it happens in public, you have to respond to your child first and put your feelings aside.

So the next time your child acts out, figure out what the problem is, ignore what people around you are thinking or doing, and take care of your child’s needs first.

Today I want to discuss the importance of handling a young child who behaves in a violent manner. What I mean by this, is that there are certain children at 5, 6 or 7 who learn, have the habit, or something inside of them, where when something goes wrong, they talk back, they hit, or they verbally or physically abuse other children or people.

They are quite simply, appropriate consequences ( ) need to be given to violent children immediately to correct their behavior.

Many times parents do not know exactly what to do about this and as a result they let it go hoping the violent child will grow out of it.

Usually the child does not grow out of it.

What usually happens is that violent children who are 5 or 6, become older violent children who are bullies. They become violent teens, and then they become violent spouses or violent adults.

A parent must address this problem aggressively and thoroughly when a child is still young. What that means is…you give a series of consequences for violent behavior. You do not let your violent young children get away with verbal abuse or physical abuse of other people, even at young ages of 4, 5 or 6.

You explain to your child it is wrong and give appropriate discipline at that time.

If you do that, your child will learn that violence is not the way to solve his problems and he will learn other, more appropriate socializing techniques that will make him more fit to be a member of society… as well as a better behaved child, a better behaved teen, and a better behaved adult.

Again, it is important to address these problems early because violent children do not get better by themselves. They usually get worse by themselves if the children are left on their own with no guidance.

Make sure you have a series of consequences for the violent behavior. When given appropriately, you will be able to handle this problem in a fairly reasonable and easy manner.

Today I want to discuss the difference between rough play and violent child behavior. Sometimes it is very hard to discern when children get wild. Particularly with boys, they have a tendency to be kind of rough. They roughhouse and they roll around and mock fight or do things that are perceived as being violent, but there is no anger involved, only rough play.

How do you tell if your child or children are actually being violent or just being rough?

Basically, the best determining factor is your gut feeling.

If you feel your children are getting out of hand, they are acting roughly, and it may have crossed the line; you can assume it crossed the line between roughhousing and violent child behavior.

Probably one of the best indications of all is that one child wants to stop and the other child does not stop. Then it has gotten out of hand and it is time to get involved and break up that interaction.

Rough play is okay, violence is not okay. When children play violently, they have anger and they lose control. If they become violent as they get older, it can cause all sorts of problems for children in the future. Again, the best indication is how you feel.

Keep in mind with our society today, there is so much violence on television, so much violence in video games, the toys that children have, and even in the cartoons they watch.

Some children see on a daily basis that it is fine to release anger in a violent way.

So the tolerance level of violent child behavior has gone really high. Parents may see things that they insist are violent child behavior (and they probably are), whereas other people view the roughhousing as normal, acceptable behavior.

It is not always clear when your child has lost control. But again, the major indications are:

(1) your gut feeling about it

(2) obvious anger coming from the child and

(3) if the other party involved wants to stop and the child does not stop, it has gotten out of hand and it is time to take control.

Today I want to discuss with you what do you or how to you feel particularly when your child acts out in public.

Your child does something to cause a tantrum in the store or somewhere else where there are a lot of people around, and everyone seems to be looking at you. What do they think?

You are for sure that they are thinking how bad a parent you are, they are thinking you can’t control your child, or they are thinking you have no idea what you are doing or they are thinking you have no idea how parenting works.

I want to point out that you really have no idea what people are thinking when they look at you. If your child acts out in public, I know it is embarrassing because everyone wants to be perfect and have everyone see them as being perfect and being a good ‘in control’ parent. You, as a parent are worried about your child’s behavior.

But really… we can’t control our children in all situations.

Children are people and they act out and do things that are wrong. That is part of growing up and it is part of being a parent is handling these situations.

In reality, you have no idea what other people are thinking when they are looking at you and when things happen in public, you have no idea what is going through other people’s heads. There is really no reason to assume the worst and be embarrassed, which is our natural tendency.

When I am in public and I see children acting out, I look at the parent and see somebody who is in a difficult situation, which I have been in many times myself, and I feel not sorry for them, but somewhat amused that this is what it is like being a parent. I actually feel a connection to the parent who is having a child who is struggling.

Many times I see the parents are very embarrassed and they feel people are looking at them. I try to give them a warm look at that point, but you should understand that the only ones who really criticize you as a parent when your children act out, are those people without children.

They just can’t relate to the situation. Anyone who has a child knows children act out.

So when you are out and about and your child acts out in public, just remember everyone there who has children, has been in the same place you are in before and there is no reason to be embarrassed by that.

Today I want to discuss how you handle when your child uses foul language, bad language, or curses at you under his breath.

A typical scenario is this: you give a child a consequence, discipline or say something he doesn’t want to hear, and he grumbles and walks away and uses foul language, bad language, or curse words under his breath just loud enough for you to hear, but mumbled.

The first thing you do any time your child curses at you, when you give the consequence, is you don’t address it immediately. You don’t want to get dragged into a battle over some other issue. You want to stay focused in the thing you are disciplining.

At a later date, if you child used foul language, bad language, or curse words directed at you, you can address it. You tell them it is wrong and give a consequence for the curse. When a child mutters under his breath foul language, bad language a curse word at you, it is the same thing. You hold him accountable for that word he said.

He will come back and say “I didn’t say anything” and you will say to him: “This is what I heard you say. If you didn’t say it, next time you have to speak louder so you don’t get a consequence. If you want me to hear what you are saying, say it loud enough so I can hear it or else what I hear is what I am addressing.”

That way if your child does mumble at you, he can’t get out of it by saying “I didn’t say that”. Because “what I heard you say”, has a consequence. Keep with that and discipline your child for cursing.

Remember, using foul language, bad language, or curse words is not permitted. It is something you have to address. It is something you have to stop your child from doing. It earns a consequence. Even when a child mutters under his breath a curse word, you hold him accountable for that.

I want to differentiate, however, between regular muttering, back talk, shouting back and cursing.

Children shout back, they do that. When you give them a consequence, you’re giving them something they don’t want to hear and they will mumble as they go away angry.

This is normal. They will express themselves as they stomp away.

That you can let go. It is normal for children to do that.

It crosses the line when a child says something that verbally abuses you, such as using foul language, bad language, or curse words under his breath. This is something you must address.

You want to keep the language in your house clean and respectful. Cursing is a violation of that principle.

Again, when a child mutters, it is okay.

When your child curses at you by muttering under his breath… that is not okay. You address that with a consequence, but again, not immediately.

At a later time when things are calm, you address that situation separately from what you were discussing originally.