Acting Out in Public

Dear Captain Anger,

If I have learned anything from parenting children from hard places, I have learned this: It is not personal, stranger’s opinions don’t matter, and my child’s behavior doesn’t necessarily reflect anything about my parenting.

Acting out in public is usually triggered by over-stimulation, the perception of an unmet need (“No, you can’t have a toy today”), or the presence of a new transition.

The first key is to focus on the child’s needs and ignore onlookers. This allows you to respond with empathy as opposed to embarrassment. Second, it is generally helpful to remove the audience – go to a private place where you can assist the child in regulating. Third, if your child cannot handle certain environments, you may need to avoid them for a time. Don’t set the child up for failure. Finally, believe that you do not need to explain, educate, or convince the “audience” of anything.

Your sole responsibility to assist your child in regulating; focusing on the child instead of the embarrassment will allow you to connect and help you child in the healing process.

For children and families,