3 Ways To Teach Your Children Good Manners When They Embarrass You In Public

Because you never know what your kid will do next.

Parenting Advice For How To Teach Your Children Good Manners & Behavior So They Don’t Embarrass You getty

Every parent experiences some embarrassing moments when your child’s behavior shocks you and makes you feel the judgment of onlookers.

Maybe you hear your child make a comment to a relative about their weight, or your child goes up to someone outside a coffee shop and tells the smoker, “You're going to die.”

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Perhaps your kid receives a party favor he does not like and tells the host, or your teenager is mopey and sullen at Thanksgiving barely making eye contact with his relatives.

These embarrassing moments are not about your parenting abilities — all kids do unpredictable things and have moments when they are rude, cranky or unaware of social expectations.

Here are 3 ways to handle embarrassing moments in parenting whenever your kids throw you for a loop:

1. Problems in public

Try to forget about the judgment of others — and try not to make discipline decisions in the heat of the moment because often your emotional state means you overreact to minor incidents.


Hold back, and wait to discuss the embarrassing incident afterward so you and your child can discuss it calmly.

This is unless you feel there are safety issues involved, or your child’s behavior is escalating.

If your child regularly demonstrates rude and disrespectful behavior, try to coach them and continually work on helping him to step into other people’s shoes to consider how his behavior affects others.

As you coach your child ask questions like, “What do you think I feel when you talk to me that way?”

Coaching your child to hear his tone and to know why his comments were rude is the long-term solution to help with embarrassing moments.


Teach your child to engage in a “polite pretend” — meaning to fake interest or happiness and to be polite even when your child is hungry, tired, or bored.

If children object to performing a polite pretend, begin by asking your child how other people feel about his behavior and ask him if the behavior he is demonstrating is what he means to show others.

Many embarrassing public incidents can be dealt with if your child knows how to present a "polite pretend".

2. Problems with extended family

Try to interpret your child’s behavior to see what he needs; is he hungry, tired, overwhelmed?

Taking care of an underlying need can help your child shift his behavior and can end embarrassing moments.


Don’t be afraid to leave with your child — If your child’s behavior escalates due to meltdowns or behavior that is dangerous.

Don't threaten him, but be sure to follow through despite the comments and judgment of family.

Consider what behavior you will let go due to the need to create a comfortable and fun family experience, and what behavior you cannot let go.

Everyone is working on something.

Share with your family ahead of time about anything you are working on with your child, ask them not to interfere and explain that you're coaching your child.

Reprimanding him in the middle of a get-together is not comfortable for anyone.

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2. Problems with teachers and other authority figures

Gently remind your child to remember his manners in the moment.

Say something like, “When someone gives us a gift, we say thank you.”

Have a go-to phrase ready for these baffling and embarrassing moments to remind your child of his manners such as, “In our family, we do not speak to each other that way.”

Allow the teacher or adult to react and to coach your child so both parties are working to help to remind your child how he truly wants to act.

Often, teachers and coaches know your child and his quirks and can help your child to see the need to shift his behavior.

Many embarrassing moments occur in front of coaches and teachers every day and they are often very willing to collaborate and nurture your child to be his best self.


Do not make jokes, justify the behavior, or make excuses.

Simply ask your child to apologize or gently remind him of his manners and then address the behavior and fully discuss why you feel the behavior was inappropriate.

Justifying your child’s behavior sends the wrong message to him and dilutes the effect of his behavior.


Try to manage your own embarrassment and focus on the need to parent and guide your child.

Coping with embarrassing moments is one of the hardest aspects of parenting.

Every parent has to leave a cart in a store to cope with a meltdown or has a moment when your child says something you find embarrassing.

Having a plan to cope with the unpredictable rollercoaster of parenting can help you cope with these embarrassing parenting situations.

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Caroline Maguire is a certified coach, the director of the Fundamentals of ADD Coaching for Families at the ADD Coach Academy, has her masters in education, and is the author of  Why Will No One Play With Me? coming in 2019. You can follow her tips to solve common social dilemmas by signing up for her new mini-course at her website.