Thursday, 19 March 2009

Public Fallout

It is not really pretty when spats happen, but even more so when they happen in front of innocent, and judgemental, bystanders.

I guess that is why they are called ‘spats’, rather than say, a nice word, like ‘pamphlet’.

Before I became a parent I would watch children being chastised for behaviour deemed worthy of such action by their parents, and I think, I would normally side with the parent, judging that to be the only appropriate action.

Shouting at kids was perceived as the normal action by me in all cases, what other method could there possibly be, talk to them, and reasoning to a mutually agreeable solution? No way.

I have never been much of a shouter myself.

I think being in control, and making points clearly, can be far more intimidating, or at least, be the right type of scary.

Shouting would generally be reserved for my team-mates in the various sports teams I was in, and it would be used for a variety of purposes, to encourage, instruct and berate.

Not that any of them ever listened to the lazy bloke at the back.

Since my son’s arrival my yelling philosophy has been revisited, constantly.

With a relatively calm nature, I do not find it difficult to generally resist any temptation to bellow in his direction, and I consider it a rare failure if I do so now.

Times of immense frustration are the most difficult to resist barking, and I have shouted on occasions such as repetitive toilet failure.

Other times, when I consider it totally justifiable are when he puts himself, or others, in danger. Road safety springs to mind, and as I was very keen to teach my boy to heel on command, I would use a stronger decibel-count to get my seriousness across.

The overriding message is that I want my son to improve, or correct his behaviour and know the reason why.

Even if that reason is just understood as the forever useful; “because-I-say-so”.

Remaining constant is the key, whatever the circumstances and whereabouts, being uninfluenced by outside pressures as much as it is possible.

As he gets older, and social interaction becomes more consistent, like he will be at school with the same people for a number of years, and thus parents will be in each others’ company for longer, there is an added dimension to public discipline.

What will other people think?

People who we socialise with on a near daily basis.

The short answer is what they want, their perception being reality and all that clever stuff.

And while I might type it is not important, that might not actually be true.

I really do not want others thinking of me negatively, especially as I think it may limit my child’s social opportunities.

But also appreciate thoughts like this should not be at the forefront when you are dealing with potentially heated situations with your children.

So far I believe I have resisted action for the benefit of others, flexing my vocal cords just to show everyone else I am in control of my boy. I have not seen the need yet, and ultimately think people see through it anyway, making you look even worse.

I suspect it is not true of others around me, and have witnessed a couple of recent episodes, handled very differently by the parents, and in some cases I believe influenced by the fact that they had an audience.

One mother definitely getting louder, so that others could hear what she was bawling at her child.

Fair consistent behaviour and action speaks far louder to children, and also barely makes a ripple amongst the local self-appointed judging panel.

In this case the child had admitted doing some wrong, which in itself is a positive, it would have been easier to lie, a policy they may decide upon for future.

Instead of asking them to apologise, explaining why, and perhaps then taking them out of their play situation as a sort of penance, physical man-handling and shouting was chosen, which, of course, the child resisted.

No one won in that situation.

Well apart from the panel, who got some quality bad-mouthing in.

I expect it to get more difficult as Max gets older, and has more serious disagreements with other children, and know it is much easier to observe from afar and think ‘in retrospect’.

But now I have this post to refer to when I get a bit shouty in that future. Share/Save/Bookmark


Yummy Mammy said...

I'm usually the cool one, turn the blind eye, don't raise the voice, etc etc. But sometimes, as we all know, you might be at your witts end after a full day of child being nothing but hard work, and on the rare occasion I have raised my voice or had to have a word with child in public. Unfortunately it happens, but I tend to find that because it doesn't happen that often that it has the desired effect, and child reverts to being an angel again.

People might judge, but lets face it, all parents have their moments, and sometimes it happens in public.

rosiescribble said...

It's a difficult one. Thankfully my daughter knows immediately when I'm corss with her from my tone of voice and facial expressions. This helps when in public because it means I don't always have to say a great deal to get my point across if she has been misbehaving. I sometimes lose my cool when I'm really exhausted. It definately makes matters worse and is no help whatsoever. I need to remind myself of that at times. Thought-provoking post SPD.

Linda said...

I used to think there was no way I would raise my voice in public but have been known to now on the odd occasion. In the main I have learned I am apparently, quite strict and that's without shouting. Once we were in a supermarket cafe and I was telling my daughters to "sit down and behave" when someone tapped me on the shoulder and told me how "nice" it was to hear someone disciplining their children - I wasn't really sure I appreciated it as all I was doing was telling them to sit still! Years on I have to say just brace yourself for another bloody great minefield to tread - telling off other people's kids! I've taken a few kids out in recent weeks/months/years and have felt very awkward when pointing out to them stuff like no, don't grab that balloon, no please don't talk to the waitress like that, could you possibly not insist on shouting at the top of your voice? It can be a nightmare, especially when the mum then looks at you like you are from another planet the next time you see them and you just know their child has ratted on you back! (Funnily enough have written about this before now.)

Yummy Mammy said...

Oh yes, other peoples kids. Mine has a little friend that I dread coming over to play as she's nothing short of having 666 on her forehead. I now try to make excuses as to why she can't come over to play. Terrible I know but I'm getting holes in my lip from biting it so much

SciFi Dad said...

If I'm in public, I'm far less likely to shout for fear of making a scene.

At home, my volume is likely to increase if my daughter begins crying or shouting. I tell myself that it's because I want to make sure she hears me, but it's probably also a little bit of my temper.

Momo Fali said...

The school my children attend is very small. I also work there. It is like one big family, where everyone is looking after each other's children. I have no problem with discipline no matter if I'm doing it or another parent who knows my child. It is a wonderful way to raise my kids, and I am thankful for that community every day.

The Dotterel said...

... nice word like 'pamplets'? You cannaaat be serious!

Whatever the spectacle, I was always rather sad when I saw these 'domestics' in the supermarket after Sally's mum and I split up. At least, I thought, they were a family...

Karen said...

my daughters know i am mad when i go quiet. I clench my teeth and almost like hiss at them in a quiet voice. The stop straight away,..

A Modern Mother said...

I hate when others shout yet I do it myself. I try not to, but sometimes it just comes out, especially when you are at wits end. Children just shut down when you shout (fight or flight) and it isn't good. You inspire me, I shall try harder.

BTW--well done on your blog ranking!

Single Parent Dad said...

Yummy Mammy - Indeed it does. But this was for the benefit of others watching.

Rosie - I say "sense the tone" quite a bit.

Linda - Yeah. I'm now looking forward to that can full of horrible.

Yummy Mammy - Yeah, we're busy won't fly all the time will it?

SciFi Dad - Exactly. Rather than wanting to put on a show for others.

Momo Fali - Did the 'Leader' get you to type that? ;-)

Dotterel - How about 'smidgen' then?

Karen - I like that. Quiet can be much, much louder than shouting.

A Modern Mother - I'm not saying not to shout, indeed I find myself doing it. It is when the shouting is more for those around rather than for your children.

And cheers, right back at you.

DiaperPin Up Girl said...

Yelling is one big difference between my husband and I with our parenting. He barks and I talk it out. He's pretty convinced the kids respect him more because they know he's not a pushover.

I agree with you and work very hard at not raising my voice above a stern tone for discipline. If the kids are juggling knives and hot irons I would yell.

I do not believe yelling works ESPECIALLY in front of other people.

Jon said...

If my daughter is acting up in public, I almost feel embarrassed when I discipline her. I'm worried what other people will think. Fortunately my daughter doesn't require that level of discipline in public very often.

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