Before we even get out of the car at a public place I always tell my children how I expect them to behave. If its a new place, then this discussion is longer and more detailed. If its somewhere they are familiar with (like the grocery store or bank) then we just do a quick review.
“Here we are at the grocery store! Please remember to stay with mom at all times and to use quiet voices. Don’t touch or pick up anything unless you have permission. Everyone ready? Let’s go!”
“While we are at the library today please use your quiet whisper voices. Since there are people here that are studying and reading, the library has made a rule that everyone must speak quietly. Remember to stay near mom! You are each allowed to pick out 5 books. Ok, grab your library bags!”
“While we are at the Brown’s house for dinner tonight, please remember to have your best table manners. We always eat what we are served and say thank you for the meal. If you offer to help clean up afterwards they would be so impressed with how polite they are and they would want to invite you over again!”
Every once in a while, just for fun, I mix it up a little and play opposites:
“Alright, while we are in the store today I expect everyone to throw lots of noisy tantrums and run all over. Make sure to touch everything you see and maybe break a jar or two.” The kids love this and pretend to be horrified and then fill me in on what is proper behavior.
Talking with your children about how you expect them to behave BEFORE you begin your event will help your children meet your expectations. How can you meet expectations if you don’t know what they are? So think out your public behavior expectations and talk with your kids about them in a loving way. Good luck!