It is important to teach your children how to behave in public. One of the first, and perhaps most difficult lessons, is to sit still and stay quiet at public events. You can experience success if you make sure your child is ready, prepare your child beforehand, keep them entertained, and have activities for them to do so they do not get bored.
Determine When Your Child Is Ready
The most challenging age to deal with at events is in between when you hold your baby and when your toddler is able to sit upright and play. You may wish to forgo taking your child to events at this age. Additional, since toddlers have very short attention spans, are impulsive, and love to be active, it is challenging to get them to sit still and be quiet at events. If you try to take your child to events before they are able to handle it, you are asking for frustration and failure. However, you know your own child best and can make the determination as to when they are ready.
It is important that you let your little one know beforehand what behavior you expect. A good method is to start at home having a quiet time. Sit with your child quietly on a sofa and give them a toy to play with or a book to look at. Initially, your child may stay there for less than a minute. When they get up, bring them back to the sofa, sit them down, and give them the toy or book again. If they get up, let them go the first time. Try to increase the amount of time they sit next to you until they seem comfortable doing so. You may wish to give them a bite size treat to nibble on while they sit.
Have Quiet Activities for Them to Do
Another idea is to have a satchel of special small toys, colouring materials, and treats that are only used when your child needs to sit still and quiet at events. Include at least ten items, or enough to keep them entertained for the length of the event. Remember that most toddlers get bored with an item after about five minutes.
You can use the satchel when they sit on the couch with you and practice being quiet. In addition, always take it with you if you have a time when your child can practice. You will find the satchel is convenient while your shop, visit with a friend, or have any other activity where you need your child to remain seated and quiet.
Make sure the toys you choose are quiet and cannot escape. Leave at home balls, wind-up cars, or anything your child can propel through the air. In addition, make sure materials for colouring and writing are washable, as toddlers tend to miss the paper and hit clothing or chair seats.
Limit access and use the element of surprise. Initially, give your child one toy at a time, switching items as your child loses interest. You may need to model ways to play with items. Try to pack some items your toddler can pair together for a new play experience. Your child will reach a point where they can choose and play with toys independently.
Reinforce Good Behavior and Deal Appropriately with Your Child’s Needs
Make sure your give your child positive reinforcement when they do well. Soft pats, hugs, and smiles can tell your toddler how pleased you are with their behavior. After the event is over, tell them how well they did and how proud you are of them.
If you need to take your toddler out because they are fussing, disturbing others in some way, or need a potty break, make sure you do not make the time away from their seat too enjoyable. If you do, they will continue to misbehave so that they can be taken out. Return to your seat as you settle your child down and resume using the goodies in your satchel.
Keeping your child still and quiet at events can be a challenge. However, with some preparation and planning, going to events can be pleasant and successful for your whole family.