What to Do if Your Child is Rude in Public

As our kids grow up, any moment can become a teaching moment. We teach our kids to be respectful to everyone, but inevitably, there will come a time (or more than one time) when our children will display rude behavior in public, whether it’s in school, at the mall, at the park, or at someone’s home. Being rude is unacceptable anywhere, but it’s much more embarrassing when it happens in front of others whether you know them personally or not. Here’s how to tackle these sticky situations and turn things around while giving your child an important lesson in how to behave appropriately everywhere.


If your child is rude in public, whether he means to be or not, the first thing to do is to apologize to those offended and insist your child does the same, even if he does not yet know what he’s done wrong (that can be explained later). Initially, it’s best to be sure to appease those around you so they can move on with their day peacefully. You are better off simply apologizing rather than trying to explain your way out of your child’s behavior. You never know who you are dealing with, so it’s smartest to keep things short and sweet. The other party will hopefully be accepting and glad to know you have acknowledged that your child has done something improper.

Talk About Feelings

Once you’ve talked to your child about why what he did was wrong, it is important to communicate how his behavior affects others. Kids understand what it’s like to have their feelings hurt. This is a good way to explain how those around him feel when he behaves rudely. Even if the rude behavior isn’t directed towards anyone in particular, the energy created makes other people uncomfortable and they may be offended. Teach your child that he would not want to be somewhere where his feelings were hurt, so he must behave that way towards others too.

Have Consequences

Even if you have explained why your child’s behavior is wrong, he apologizes, and promises to never behave in that rude manner again, there should still be some sort of consequence for his behavior to instill the lesson. If you were out to buy him something, perhaps save that for another time. Limit his time on the computer or to watch TV. Whatever punishment is appropriate for you and will teach him to monitor his behavior the next time is what you should implement.

What do you do when your child is rude in public? We’d love to share your tips with the AMC community. For more information like this, please visit All My Children.


By: Melissa A. Kay



Comments (11)

  • Renate E Ebsworth October 27, 2015 - 5 years ago

    Human beings have become too stupid to be parents. I enjoyed all our kids, our own, foster and adopted but our own where disciplined from about 8 months on. Did that mean screaming and yelling ..NO NO NO….in a restaurant our son wanted attention and threw his toy on the floor.. I said no in a firm disapproving voice …picked it up and gave it back. The third time I turned his highchair away from us and kept his toy and we all ignored him… after a while he started to be cute so I gave it back to him and said no, indicating holding the toy over the edge of his chair…a few times he said eh… eh to get our attention and held the toy over the edge and I said NO…when he did keep it on the tray he got kisses and good boy…people used to say to us ” how do you get your babies to be so good you must be a real disciplinarian… and yes I was,… CONSISTENTLY, then when we got a 4 1/2 year old boy that had been labeled by the case workers ” juvenile delinquent ” the first day I made oatmeal with apples and raisins in it and he threw it against the wall …. no yelling I just made him help me clean it up and said there will be no food till lunch… he could have water that’s it. By lunch he did not even ask what it was he ate every bite.I expected to have to repeat this… but I never had to. So you see it is a full time job to be consistent. over and over and you have to stick to your guns. Then when we went to a Mall and he knocked over a display at a store on purpose, I told him that when the others all got ice cream he would not get any and I stuck to that…within about 3 months he was my best little guy. I was proud of our kids. they had to respect each others things and their teachers and us and they did and were a joy to take places , all 6 of them.

    • Saurav January 3, 2016 - 4 years ago

      “Human beings have become too stupid to be parents” – don’t be so judgmental. Chances are what you did is all wrong. There is no guarantee that you (or any other parents for that matter) didn’t screw up completely. You say your children turned out okay? Well, how do you know that’s “because of you” and not “in spite of you”?

  • UnwaveringButFaltering November 15, 2015 - 5 years ago

    I think parents get so flustered when their children are rude that they tend to whisk the child away and themselves don’t apologize. The child only knows they’re being redirected and never learns. This action presumes adults don’t know that children are unfiltered and are supremely insulted. Once, on a plane, a harried mom allowed her 4 yo daughter to talk to me for a full plane ride while she wrestled with a baby. We had a great chat then she poked my thigh and said, “Does that hurt?” clearly referring to my thigh plumpness seemingly indented under the armrest. The seatmate next to me burst out laughing and Mom called her back to her seat. I said, “No, fat doesn’t hurt. And my fat is cute in my sparkly jeans, isn’t it? Some people feel bad if you call them fat but you didn’t say that so you’re still my friend.” The little girl listened, nodded her head as she processed it before her mother hustled her down the aisle. I hope she learned that fat ladies in sparkly jeans can be fun, beautiful and cool and maybe remembers that for her teen years. No apology from the child was needed but Mom should have used it as a teachable moment rather than leaving it to me.

  • David McKenna November 17, 2015 - 5 years ago

    Your first paragraph was fine. Then suddenly the rude “child” became “he” for the remainder of your article. I have no issue with your suggestions. Just with forgetting that little girls can be rude too.

    • Judy Leinweber November 24, 2015 - 5 years ago

      In school, we were taught that “he” is a neutral pronoun that means “he/she.” Only recently has it changed to the PC “he/she.”

  • Marjorie Thomson November 28, 2015 - 5 years ago

    What you need to publish is an article about what to do when other people’s children are rude in public. I have had to deal with this on numerous occasions. My husband is a disabled veteran and children constantly try to push him out of the way to run by him. This actually happened on an escalator once in Las Vegas. I stepped in front of the child and told him he was simply going to have to wait his turn. His mother told me to mind my own business. I told her when he is trying to push my disable husband over on an escalator it IS MY BUSINESS! I further told her she should train her children to respect elderly people, not shove at them.

  • Amir Syed January 23, 2016 - 4 years ago

    too many apologies and courtesies for nonsensical stuff like rude children, children will be children, stop treating them like robots, no wonder you people are half psychotic, in western culture, but not enough when you all drop bombs and kill people in other nations, please teach your kids its not ok to start wars just because you have power and you all need to start apologizing for being part of a nation that kills those ‘foreigners’ so easily.

    • John leroy June 29, 2017 - 3 years ago

      Wow, Amir not sure where your statement comes from. But unfortunately many nations seek out our help because of tyrants, genocide, children being killed, internal wars and innocent lives being lost. We send our children over as soldiers to be help bring peace and safety to many people. We send our children over to provide medical and economical assistance to those in need at a cost to our own citizens. It would be very easy to be isolationists and let your eastern cultures destroy each other, but it is right to try to assist when people ask for help.

      • Ava G. September 4, 2017 - 3 years ago

        @John leroy. I know that is what you would like to believe. But ultimately all the great qualities you list are not the reasons of war. More often than not, unfortunately, war is because of wealth, politics and power. I have friends in the army who talk about what is actually happening out there and some of the stories show the army displaying some of the qualities we seem to be fighting against. It is important not to be naive and realize that.

  • Helena Marc Tarasow January 4, 2018 - 2 years ago

    Albert Einstein once wrote….If you want to stimulate ur child’s mind, read him/her fairy tales.
    Imagination has no bounds.🤔

  • Helena Marc Tarasow January 4, 2018 - 2 years ago

    As a former guidance counselor and developmental psychologist, I find your website valuable on several levels.
    One day I hope public high schools will include developmental psychology in their curriculum, not only as a guide for future parenting but for each student’s own self awareness.


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