I am a SAHM with a wonderful, active 30-month old. She is very bright and happy and I seem to manage the “terrible twos” just fine. At home. But while running my daily errands and I have to go into a store, Sadie goes wild! How can I discipline my mostly wonderful two-year-old in public?
Your question got me thinking back to when I had toddlers, before I was a parent coach. So, I decided to visit the archives of John Rosemond’s articles to find the right solution for you.
Here’s what I found:
Three Steps to McIPP
McIPP is the acronym for “Managing Children in Public Places.”
1. Strike while the iron is cold (note this does NOT reference striking your child in any way). The common way to hear that phrase is to strike while the iron is hot but many times striking while the iron is cold is even more effective. It simply means to anticipate problems and address them BEFORE they have a chance to occur. Before you go into a store, simply tell your toddler the expected behavior. For example; “Sadie, when we go into the store I expect you to 1. stay with Mommy at all times, 2. look only with your eyes, and 3. remain quiet when Mommy is talking to another adult.” Note that all expectations are given in the “positive” rather than the “negative” (like using the word don’t). Further, give only a few simple rules for this age child. After giving the rules, ask Sadie to repeat them back to you so you are sure she understands.
2. Now is the time to strike when the iron is hot (if there is misbehavior). If one of the three rules is breached, simply and firmly ask “What did I tell you?” and if she cannot remember, then say “I told you to look only with your eyes” and then tell her what you want her to do. “When you are in this store, you only look at things. Now put your hands by your side and look with your eyes.”
3. The final step is for “when all else fails” and shouldn’t have to be used often if you are firm and consistent with steps one and two. But, when all else does fail, remove Sadie to a quiet place (even if it means leaving the store) and tell her that you are going to stay in this place until you feel she is ready to go back to the store. When you feel the time has come to return to the store, repeat step one.
Eventually (after practice and several days of errands), the lessons will sink in. Just stay the course and soon you’ll see results.
Let me know how it works for you!
Do you have a parenting question for Susan? If so, send her an e-mail at susan@ParentCoachAtlanta.com