Should we discipline our kids in public ?
Last night we had dinner with the family at a hotel restaurant. Our toddler, Isaac, was not well, did not have enough sleep, appetite was extremely poor, hence, he was cranky beyond words. He was doing all sorts of things to get more attention but what upset his G (his daddy), was when he started to throw his cutleries at him. G told him nicely to stop doing that because it is not a nice thing to do, but Isaac continued. That’s when G stopped whatever he was doing, pulled the baby chair away from the table so Isaac would not be able to reach for more things to throw. Without a doubt, Isaac got really upset and started to cry. Grandparents tried to ‘save’ Isaac by distracting him with ice cream, or wanted to carry him. But G made a firm statement of not wanting anyone to interfere when he is teaching his son. Honestly, I respect and agree with his decision that when he is disciplining our child, no one else should interfere because it would only allow the child to feel that someone else has got his back even if he does something wrong. However, during the whole saga at the restaurant, I started to think of something I’ve never really thought of before – should we discipline our kids in public?
What the husband thinks:
“I did not raise my voice at him, it is not like I hit him. All I did was pull his chair away from his table and gave him a stern look. What is wrong with pulling his chair away from the table? I did it so he is not able to reach for more things to throw.”
What the grandma thinks:
“You should discipline him only at home because he will understand what you are saying. When you go home, just tell him that he should not have done that at the restaurant earlier.” – to which G thinks he will not be able to understand because Isaac is only a year old and he would have forgotten about this when we get home.
What I felt and thought :
I sat there in silence so that I would not aggravate the situation. All I knew was that my son was not at his best because he is unwell. He is usually a cheerful baby. But last night, he did not want to be carried, he did not want to sit at his chair, he did not want to eat. All I wanted was for him to stop crying because it upsets me when I see him crying. I had an urge to just pick him up and walk away where he would probably feel better.
Me being me, I started to feel embarrassed about the situation, embarrassed that people are watching, and I felt that if I were Isaac, I’d feel embarrassed that I was being disciplined in front of everyone. Do kids (a 14 month old toddler in this case) know how to feel embarrassed? I really don’t know. But G thinks that they don’t know how how to feel embarrassed and that he only cried because he wanted his grandparents to save him.
People are always judging
That is a fact. As much as the world is judging us, we tend to judge others without realising too. Take myself for example, when I see someone take tons of food on their plates when they go to a buffet, my first thought would be ‘why so kiasu…Can always take again if not enough what. Later cannot finish the food then it will go to waste’ But who knows, maybe this person can actually finish what he/she has taken? My consciousness of having taken the centre stage when Isaac started making a fuss at the restaurant, made me ask myself if G was over-disciplining. Then it occurred to me that sometimes the way I react towards Isaac’s misbehaviour in public, am I actually overdoing it? Am I not doing enough? Do people think I’m a terrible mum? Does my husband think I’m a bad mother? The ultimate question I asked myself was – am I the same parent in public as I am at home? Because I’m pretty sure I’m quite a chill person when at home which is why I can’t stand making a scene in public.
Sigh, I have so much more to learn in parenting. Need to think of how to teach Isaac if he misbehaves in public without it becoming a commotion. If anyone has any advice how we can deal with this, do share them with me. 🙁