Set Rules Ahead of Time
Be prepared for family outings. All you need is some construction paper or poster board and markers or crayons. For example, your family plans to go to the theater to see a movie in a couple of days:
- On a large piece of construction paper or poster board, help your child draw or list things he/she will see at the movie theater, such as the box office, lobby, concession stand, aisles, and seats.
- Work together to write a list of the positive behaviors you expect to see, not the negative behaviors you will not allow. For example:
Provide details for each point of your visit to the theater. It is a much more effective way to get your meaning across, rather than a general "You must behave yourself at the movies." For example, children might think "at the movies" means only when the movie is on the screen. This also is a good time to set limits on "goodies" that can be bought and whether you intend for your children to share their snacks.
- At the box office: "Hold hands while standing in line to buy tickets."
- In the theater: "Stay seated and speak quietly if you need to ask a question." Not: "Do not get out of your seat or scream."
Finally, make sure that children understand the consequences of breaking these rules. For example, if they cannot share their snacks, you will not buy anything from the concession stand. If they continue to talk loudly, scream, or run inside the theater, you will take them out of the theater for a timeout or even go home before the movie is over.
Set up these construction paper signs for expected conduct at all types of outings: at a friend's home, at the grocery store, in a restaurant. Use the signs as gentle reminders of the rules anytime your family plans to be out together.