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Although our museum is a “children’s museum,” adults (parents, guardians, babysitters, etc.) are a huge part of the experience as well. Here are some tips for parents/guardians to get the most out of their time at the museum and how to handle some “sticky” situations.
Each bathroom has a changing area, and there is a family bathroom as well.
Disciplining your child in public is difficult for some parents, but don’t shy away from doing it. Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott and H. Stephen Glenn, authors of "Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems," recommend using 10 words or less when disciplining (186). For example, “Don’t run in the museum.” Or you could, instead of using a negative command, use a positive one. For example, say, “Walk” instead of “Don’t run.” Some children become embarrassed at the thought of being chastised in public and rectify their behavior once a warning is given to stave off future embarrassment.
Give your child a five or 10-minute warning about when you’re going to leave. “We’re leaving in five minutes, so is there anything you want to do before we leave?” Maybe your child would like to go through the grocery store or dance on the Little Orpheum stage one more time. If your child wants to hear the train again, remember that it comes at 45 minutes after every hour. You could subtly direct them toward exhibits that are near the door (the plane, Waterworks, the hula hoops). Also, the gift shop is a great way to lead children toward the door. For the little ones who are learning about time, you can point to the clock and say, “When the big hand reaches (fill in the blank number), it’s time to go.”
In the toddler area there is a space specifically for nursing. We’re told it’s super-comfy. However, you are welcome to nurse anywhere in the museum.
Notify a member of the CMOM staff if you’ve lost a child. We notify other staff members of the child’s description and help you find your missing little one with all deliberate speed. Before you come to the museum, it is helpful to tell your child that, in the event that they get lost, they can either come to the front desk and notify someone there, or find a person in a red CMOM shirt and tell them that they are lost.
There are benches throughout the museum for parents (and anyone else) to sit on when their energy level is flagging. Use them, and watch the children play (or people watch).
Feel free to inform museum staff of behavior that you have introduced at home and are trying to reinforce in public (the importance of sharing, etc.).
Show your child that you are not embarrassed by their behavior (even though temper tantrums are, by nature, embarrassing). Temper tantrums are about wanting to get their way. “Children throw temper tantrums to get an adult’s attention, to get their own way, to hurt back if they feel hurt, or to get others to leave them alone. Temper tantrums are an emotional display. The child may feel angry or frustrated or vindictive - even playful. We are most effective when we deal with the tantrum and then later deal with the feeling behind the tantrum.” (Nelsen 305). Some children respond to being held during the tantrum. Later, feel free to take your child to a private corner of the museum (away from most of the action) and talk to him or her about what happened. Tell your child that perhaps you both can come up with ways for him/her to deal with anger or frustration.
It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to thoroughly enjoy all the exhibits in the museum. Let your child choose where he or she wants to go. Allow them to be your tour guide. Be engaged with your child... The museum tends to bring out the inner child in everyone.
Source: "Positive Discipline A-Z: 1001 Solutions to Everyday Parenting Problems" by Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott & H. Stephen Glenn