When we go to public places where families go, such as Target, the grocery store, the playground, the...ahem...county fair, there is a lot of family action. We see all sorts of parenting styles, discipline models, and general child management. We can clearly establish which families use methods with names. There's the Time Out, the 1,2,3, the Threats, the Bribes. There are the tantrum throwers and yellers...and their kids. (couldn't resist)
I wonder if parents kick up their discipline methods a notch when in these public places. I mean, it's like the age old philosophical question "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a noise?" My philosophical question is, "If there are no other parents around, does the mother still implement the discipline at the same level of intensity?"
My children mostly behave wonderfully and are a dream to take to public places. It's true. I don't have the feeling of dread going to Target with three kids as other mothers may experience with their brood or singlets. But I have often been in Target and have noticed mothers disciplining their children kind of extra loud. With a look cast my way. Is it just me? I feel like sometimes parents are quick to discipline their children, and with more severe intensity, than is necessary while in a public place for the sake of other people.
It's as if parents want to display their discipline method. I'll hear, "If you do that again you're going in time out." as if I'm supposed to think, "Ooooh, she uses time out." Or I'll hear, "ONE......twoooooooo...................." and I'm supposed to think, "Oh, how great. She didn't even have to get to three. Her system totally works."
I'm not criticizing any moms or dads or methods here. I'm simply questioning the gusto in which it's being used in public places. This phenomenon coupled with the verbal or mouthed "I'm sorry" a mom directs towards me in Target as her child cries wants to make me shout, "Sorry for what?! So what?! Your kid is crying. No one is judging you because, guess what, kids cry in stores all the time."
Is that it? Are we afraid of being judged by how loudly or badly our children behave so while in public we are so quick to put our parenting skills to work. On display?
Here's the scenario: my children and I, and two other moms and their children were all at the playground at the same time. One sibling, under two maybe, was playing with a ball and his brother, 3ish maybe, swooped over and snatched the ball out of his hands. Crime of the century? Maybe in that household. Mom immediately jumped into the Time Out and 1,2,3 combo because her son didn't get himself over to the time out tree fast enough.
I thought, if there were no other mothers at the park, would this have been his consequence? Or would it have been more of a dialogue.
I'm going to pay more attention to how I discipline my kids in public places. I'm going to consciously make sure that my actions are for my children and not for other moms. Because, really, the last thing I am ever going to do is tell someone else I'm sorry for my children.