Discipline Advice On-the-go

Updated on August 04, 2007
J.K. asks from Wilmington, DE
7 answers

My little guy is 22 months old and well into his terrible twos. We routinely use a naughty chair at home for such infractions as hitting, biting, screaming and pulling hair. The chair, so far, works great and the incidents are few and far between – unless we go out. It seems he’s figured out that punishment at the grocery store, bank, church, etc. isn’t as easy for me to do.

I’ve done my best to avoid any potential conflicts by making sure we only go out when he’s well napped, fed, etc. I also leave a store when it becomes clear he’s headed for a major meltdown. Unfortunately, I can’t always make a quick exit and that’s when the severe behavior – typically pulling my hair and screaming at me – begins. By the time we get home the incident is well forgotten (at least by him!), so punishment seems useless. Does anyone have any suggestions for correcting or at least managing this behavior? I’m desperate!
Thanks a bunch!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Hi J.,
Aren't these kids clever, it'd be funny if this kind of stuff didn't drive us crazy!

Anyhow, I think you need to plan for time out punishments on the road. For instance warn him ahead of time that he will be put in time out in the car (or facing a corner - if your at the mall and the car is too far away)if he misbehaves. Then I think you purposefully go on some errands with the hidden agenda to catch him acting up so that you can try out this new routine. By doing this you'll be less stressed about having to get the errands done and focus on teaching your son the consequences for bad behavior. Then stick to your guns and just like at home, the second he starts fussing with you, get out of where you are and sit him in the car (or a facing a corner). It shouldn't take long for your little guy to learn that you mean business.

I hope this helps! It sounds like you are already doing a great job with discipline though - he's just figured out the loophole!

Take care.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Congratulations on the new baby!! I have two and it seems like the second one is much easier!! Perhaps I am a bit more relaxed!

I have to categorize myself as a pretty strict Mommy. I will not tolerate my son being bratty. Now of course he is only 2 1/2 and I have yet to see anything really horrible out of him yet. He is a pretty good kid, he doesn't hit or bite or anything like that - so I know I am very lucky - I have friends who have those problems.

One thing I do with my 2 year old son is while we are going somewhere, I tell him in the car before we arrive... Patrick you and Mommy are going to the store. You will need to be a good boy in the store and listen to Mommy. You need to hold Mommy's hand and stay right by her side.

When we are getting out of the car, I tell him all of it again.

I also ask him to say Yes Mama when I am giving these directions. I try to get him to repeat what I said, but he can't talk that well. I just want to make sure he is listening to what I am saying.

When he does act up, I remind him once or twice firmly. If it continues, then I give him my stern voice and tell him if he does it again he will get a TIME OUT right here in this store. That is usually all it takes.

When we are with our playgroup, and he misbehaves, I tell him he will get a time out right here in front of all his friends. That is usually enough.

And, for those times when my warnings don't work, I follow through. I give him a time out wherever we are. I will walk him out of a restaurant, a store, a playdate. I think that empty warnings will not get me the results I want as far as his behavior goes.

But I do find in most situations if I keep up a running commentary on the behavior I expect from him, then he usually listens.

Good Luck



answers from Philadelphia on

you have to take immediate action. go to your car or the store's bathroom, or make him sit on the floor of the store until he's quiet, or, find a chair in the store and make him sit, (try to find some type of portable naughty chair, since that is working for now at home- can you take it with you and leave it in the car when you go in the store? sounds funny, but, after a couple times he has to sit in it in public, you probably wont need it anymore). Let him know that his behavior is unacceptable everywhere, not just at home. If he is in a child care program or left with a sitter, make sure they know what method of discipline you are using and for which behaviors. There has to be consistency and uniformity. Other people in the store or public will understand, if not, oh well, addressing your child's behavior is more important than what others might think, and take it from me, it annoys and embarrasses you more than it does the other people around. Your child will be better off for it. Otherwise, you are letting a two year old control you. He is learning which behaviors will get a rise out of you (he gets you to leave a store or alter whatever you are doing by his behavior, and he knows it). I have 2 boys, 11 and 16, and have an in-home daycare for toddlers, and if I knew with my first child what I knew by the time the second came, I'd be alot better off.... They are like night and day. The first one always is harder... Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hey J.! My 4yr old is well behaved most of the time overall. When he does begin to act up at home his father and I put him in the corner. At the store it is still the same threat for us to him. He responds well to it. I just tell him, "They have corners here in the store." At that point he stops. Maybe you could just tell him, "they have a time-out chair here in the store as we do at home." Hopefully something works out for you. Stick to it. You will make it through :)



answers from Philadelphia on


I think that this is quite possibly the hardest part of disipline. I also think that the same rules apply to this that go at home. When my 5 yo is, lets say, "uncooperative" he gets put in a corner wherever we are. I can think of a time we were at the bank and he was acting up. I said if "I get to three you are going into the corner right here. I don't care where we are". he did it and he went into the corner, right then and there. I am pretty sure that the other people in the bank were happier for a kid in the corner than a kid who is acting up. It was embarrassing for him because When people tried to talk to him in time out I had to tell them "he is in time out for what ever it was and please don't tallk to him". I felt good about what I did and he felt bad enough about it that all I have to do now is say "do you want to go into the corner" and he gets back in line.

I have this theory that the smarter they are the more strict you have to be with them. Your guy has figured out that out of the house the rules are different, very smart. So you need to make sure that he gets it that the rules are even stricter in public or else he will continue to exploit the "loopholes" he sees. That is so smart.

Also it is so wise of you to realize that by the time you get home it is pointless. If you take care of your child right away and in public no matter what not only will you keep control of the situation most of the time but the other people you are worried about what they are thinking will respect a mom who is lovingly disiplining their kid in public instead of letting him control her.

good luck to you.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi J.,
In my work with Parents and children, I encourage parents to think in terms of helping their child regulate their emotional state. I would call it "take a rest" when putting the child in a chair. Explain that this is time to calm down. I don't like the "naughty chair" term becasue it is too likely to be heard by the child as a label ie "I am naughty". Natural consequences are best. Eg If child can't control self in the store, you will leave with child or wait for child to calm down.
You might want to take a parenting class. You would get many ideas for manageing these behaviors. Judy Feldman in Marlton has a good one. (I don't know where you live.)



answers from Philadelphia on

i don't have any advice on how to dicipline. i can tell you that when i was pregnant with baby #2, my daughter was about the same age as your son. it seemed almost as if she knew i couldn't do as much diciplining as when i wasn't pregnant so she acted out alot more. once i had the baby, things went back to normal with her behavior. kids know when something is different, it's like they have a sixth sense! good luck, meltdowns outside of the house are certainly no fun!!! instead of waiting until you get home to punish, why don't you try something in your car?

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