Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Kids Need Direction When Traveling to the City

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live by a big city, and I try to get my children into the city to see museums, plays and authors. Although we have an excellent experience once we are in the city, controlling my children on the train is a whole other beast. They go up to strangers, scream and are generally disruptive. I am so embarrassed yet don't know what to do. -- Wild Children, Denver

DEAR WILD CHILDREN: Change your strategy. Before you go anywhere, talk to your children about what to expect. This instruction must be extremely specific. Include not running, using inside voices and staying with their parents. When traveling on any kind of public transportation, your children need to understand what is expected of them, including how to get a ticket, the importance of being still in order to give other passengers room, and the requirement to stay with the family and to be quiet. Reiterate to them what behaviors they should exemplify when they are in public, and have them practice at home. Let them know that the reward for good behavior is to have wonderful experiences engaging others. The penalty for bad behavior is that they will not be able to enjoy any of these things. They may need a few times when they are denied the opportunity to go places so that the consequences are obvious.