Originally Posted by 15fan
To play devil's advocate here, I think this depends a lot on the age of the child, as well as the number of kids you're in charge of at the time.
If I'm in the store & my 3 year old is completely out of control, the time to deal with it is right then & there. Dropping what you are doing, leaving the store, putting the kid in the car, driving home, walking in the front door, and then disciplining the kid is too long of a time frame. At that point, the kid has gone through too many other highs and lows and had too many other thoughts come & go. If you're lucky, the kid's mania has run it's course and he or she is calmed down from whatever it was that was the source of the angst.
Similarly, my dad traveled a lot when I was a kid, so my mom spent a lot of time running errands with me and my two younger sisters (15 months and 4 years) in tow. If one of us started acting up when the 4 of us were out, she had to nip it in the bud right then & there. Otherwise the other 2 would have joined in the act & it would have turned into complete chaos in the blink of an eye.
If you have a 7 or 8 year old, then I think it's a little different. Those kids have a much better understanding of the space-time continuum. You can let them know that it's big trouble when you get 'em home, and administer discipline in a much more discreet and appropriate manner.
Finally, the next time you see a harried parent go off on his/her kid and feel uncomfortable, keep in mind that the parent likely feels even more uncomfortable than you do.
I agree with the sliding scale of age and immediacy in disciplining a child. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But I also tried to be as discrete as I could.
If my 3 yr. was getting completely out of control in front of the mac and cheese with people all around at the grocery store, I'd find the nearest unused aisle or little alcove with a modicum of privacy and set them straight.
I didn't want to discipline them directly in front of others but it did need to get taken care of quickly or else the moment was lost.
Actually, when they got a little older, the line "do you want me to yell at you in front of all these people and embarass you or are you going to settle down?" worked pretty well.
Nowadays, my line is "children, quit acting like children". Makes the point, gets a good laugh, and diffuses the situation.