My two toddlers like to do public dance when they hear songs like catchy, lively dance music in shopping malls and other public places. Actually we, parents, are not that kind of open minded. What should be parents attitude to this behavior?

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    So they don't interfere with anything but it is embarrassing to you? Or are there negative responses within their surroundings? – Etaila Feb 17 '17 at 11:42
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    I am not trying to sound harsh but either you enjoy the freedom that your children have and that you have created a safe environment for them to show how they feel, or remove them from the situation with a firm "No." (perhaps an explanation.) – WRX Feb 17 '17 at 14:53
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    The reality of life is unless we are going to shutter parents away in their homes, kids are going to be a part of the public sphere. If the worst things your kids do is dance, keeping out of people's way, not knocking things over, not being excessively loud, that's totally fine. – swbarnes2 Feb 20 '17 at 22:54

It's reasonable to set some limits on their behavior in public if they're significantly negatively impacting other people. I don't personally feel that children need to be completely silent, but I also think reasonable limits on volume and behavior are appropriate.

These are situations where I'd step in and ask for calmer behavior:

  • They are dancing very vigorously, or are moving about too much, or aren't paying enough attention to their surroundings (e.g., display shelves, other shoppers) -- risking injury (either them or other people) or property damage
  • They're singing along noisily
  • You're in a location where dancing would be inappropriate or disrespectful in some way (e.g., religious service, funeral)

But if they're relatively stationary, not about to crash into customers or clothes, watching where they're going, still listening when you say "it's time to walk this way now"... I consider this a harmless expression of joy and excitement. Kids like to move and dance.

Teaching the boundary between "expressing yourself" and "respecting other people's space" is a useful important life lesson, so help them find a middle ground between dancing their heart out and staying silent and motionless.

An additional thought is to enroll them in a dance class. Look for low-pressure, short lessons once a week that focus on movement and expression, giving them a space for their dance. It sounds a little counterintuitive (they should be dancing more?!?), but an "official" outlet means you can remind them that dancing that vigorously is for classtime, not the grocery store (e.g.).

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