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We encourage children in our cafe BUT

999 replies

childfriendlycafeowner · 14/06/2013 20:07

I hope you don't mind us asking any readers for their opinion on child behaviour in public places.

We run a small cafe in a small town, and we love doing it (opened up 4 months ago). The previous owners did not encourage children and families, we do, we bought high chairs and do what we can to make families feel welcome. But today two girls came in with a baby and a toddler, my guess is the toddler was 2. From the moment she arrived the screamed, not crying because she was upset but screaming because I guess she liked the sound of her own voice. We made comments to the mum in the hope she would take the hint that the child was disturbing all the other customers but her comment was "she is a little tinker isn't she" The other customers threw their food and drinks down their necks and left as quickly as they could, some complaining as they left. She did go quiet for a little while but she was screaming for probably at least half of the 1 hour plus that she was in the cafe.

When the lady came to pay we said to the lady that we are very sorry but unless she can stop her little girl disturbing all our other customers and driving them away perhaps she could sit in our outside seating area with her or not come in. We felt terrible to say this but it really was a terrible din that upset many people.

Are we being reasonable or unreasonable. Would you tolerate your child no matter how young being so disruptive to other people in public

OP posts:
pigletmania · 14/06/2013 21:09

It would ave even different if t mum was struggling, and made an effort to discipline her child, but she did not and even found it endearing. Te op was very reasonable, se dd not ask her to go, but politely suggested te terrace outside

DontmindifIdo · 14/06/2013 21:09

I think it's worth working out in your town, where the money in the day is. In our town, there's a lot of yummy mummies, there's money to be made from families, far more than from retirees and the few unemployed people who'll be in your cafe in the day. But in some towns there's a lot of working from home people (who'll pop out for a coffee/lunch for a break), or retired people, or lots of offices close to town for staff lunches, who might make you more money than young families.

If you are goign to be 'family friendly' then you will get the occasional badly behaved child, they might drive away the other customers. It's a case of what's worth it to you.

(If you are going the 'family friendly' route, a good trick to get the word around might be to contact your local branch of NCT and say you wanted to be clear you're breast feeding friendly/offer a discount for members for a set amount of time)

Jan49 · 14/06/2013 21:12

It sounds like you spoke to her when she was leaving so what was the point unless you were sure she was going to be a regular customer with a child who always screamed? If what you said to her was, if you come again, you need to sit outside, which just means she probably won't come back. Or maybe it's her only visit to your town and she'll never be there again anyway. I think it would have been good if you'd said something much earlier, maybe suggesting she sat outside and you'd bring her drink out to her as you say there is outside seating.

As a parent I would have left quickly if I couldn't quieten the child, maybe taking the screaming child outside and leaving the other adult and baby in the café, and coming back in if the toddler calmed down.

Wallison · 14/06/2013 21:12

are you seriously telling me that toddlers automatically do as they are told when they are at the age of pushing boundaries and being loud. Its what they do and they cant help. Its nature. It takes time for them to understand.


But the only way to get them to understand is to tell them to stop doing it/distract them etc. That is a parent's job. And if that doesn't work, then you leave, because disturbing other people is rude and anti-social, even if you don't disturb them on purpose and your kids need to learn this too and again as a parent, teaching them that is your job. OP I would say that you were definitely not BU but if you want to be family-friendly then you do need a strategy for dealing with situations like these. A gentle nudge towards the outside seating area, or if that doesn't work a firmer hand guiding them towards it is what you might want to aim for.

Floggingmolly · 14/06/2013 21:15

Hmm at KingRollo
It would take me half an hour minimum to finish up and leave, but I wouldn't be hanging about.
That would be about 25 minutes too long for those around you, I'm afraid.

wanderingwillow · 14/06/2013 21:19

YANBU. I've had to leave a cafe in the past because my DS was getting antsy. At the end of the day, your DC's happiness comes before yours, and I can never understand why people are okay with letting their DC's becoming distressed or shouting in cafes/restaurants because it must be annoying for them too!

You are running a cafe, not a crèche. You can be welcoming to families but you don't have to be tolerant of thoughtless behaviour from parents.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS · 14/06/2013 21:20

Yanbu. No-one wants to pay money for food and drink and have the experience ruined by a screaming or noisy child.

BoysRule · 14/06/2013 21:23

Really tricky one. My 11 month old shouts all the time and is impossible to stop - we still try to eat out but we do make a sharp exit when he gets bad as I am ultra paranoid and know it is annoying. It drives us mad at home too.

If the child was 2 then she is old enough to be told and to understand that screaming is not acceptable. I can never understand it when parents let their children scream. There really is no need.

MrsOakenshield · 14/06/2013 21:31

yanbu. Of course all children play up at times, that in itself is not a problem - it's how the parents handle it that can be. When I know we're going to be in a cafe I always have a load of little, noiseless toys, pens and paper and books to keep DD occupied. But if that wasn't working and for whatever reason she kicked off I would firmly tell her off, then take her outside (if there is one) and finally leave if she wouldn't stop. If I could I would take my purchases with me, but if not - well, abandoned beverages and food are part and parcel of teaching your child how to behave in certain public situations. No-one is perfect all the time. But it sounds like this woman wasn't even bothering, and didn't care about anyone else around her.

(I also agree with the poster who said this kind of screaming upsets their child - DD isn't great with sudden loud noises and this kind of thing would upset her and probably trigger her off too! despite the fact that she can be the most awful screecher and squealer you've ever heard )

ThoughtsPlease · 14/06/2013 21:35

But MrsOakenshield it would be fine if she triggered your DD too because as you have explained you are so capable of dealing with it so effectively so why worry! Confused Grin

Greydog · 14/06/2013 21:36

YANBU - who wants to put up with that? I'm with the poster who avoids family friendly. Too often it's an excuse for parents who really don't care about anyone except themselves. A toddler who was messing about in a National Trust cafe last year ran into me, when i was carrying a tray of food including hot drinks. God only knows how I didn't drop it. And his doting mama just said " he's a live wire"

maddening · 14/06/2013 21:38

The only things you might be able to add is colouring books and crayons and some toys - then parents of cheesed off toddlers have a nice distraction if they forgot to pack themselves.

MrsOakenshield · 14/06/2013 21:39

sorry, not sure what you are getting at, ThoughtsPlease - I would be narked if someone failing to deal with this caused us to have to leave because my child was now screaming - which I would do. I am simply saying, as many others on this thread have said, that if your child kicks off and you are unable to calm them, as often happens despite your best efforts, you have to leave. Do you not agree? Do you think a screaming child should stay, disturbing everyone else? Hmm back at you, in that case.

childfriendlycafeowner · 14/06/2013 21:39

We would like to thank you all for your comments. We look forward to many more families coming to our cafe and hope we can make them all feel welcome and at home.

Have a good weekend everyone

OP posts:
MrsOakenshield · 14/06/2013 21:41

maddening - yes, good point for the OP - though if you are providing pencils, make sure they are sharp enough to use - many's a time a helpful server has given us paper and pencils for DD, only for us to discover that every single pencil is so blunt as to be unusable!

Thesebootsweremadeforwalking · 14/06/2013 21:43

YANBU at all. I have left cafes quickly if DS got out of hand at that age, and will do so when DD hits that age.

I loathe watching badly behaved kids in cafes, partly because it is hard to explain to DS why he's not allowed to scream/ run about while other kids do, but also because I don't really want to be around other people's badly behaved kids.

TolliverGroat · 14/06/2013 21:44

I agree with Jan49 -- when she was leaving was absolutely the wrong time to speak to her. The very best you could hope for is that she had no idea how disruptive her DD was being, in which case she'd be very embarassed and either get over-defensive or slink away so embarrassed that she'd never darken your door again.

I think better would have been to approach her when the DD had been going for five minutes or so with a solicitous "your daughter doesn't seem very happy; is there anything we can do to help?" From your point of view it might be worth having some paper and crayons behind the scenes either for all children (actually, this is something that I would love cafes to do; there was a lovely cafe near us that did it when DC1 was tiny but these days it's only restaurants) or specifically as an emergency measure for disruptive children. The parents needn't know that "would little Jimmy like some paper and crayons?" is code for "FFS, woman, have you not NOTICED that your child is shattering the eardrums of nearby customers?"

BoysRule, not all 2yo are "old enough to be told and to understand that screaming is not acceptable". My DD2 is two and has a hearing loss and associated severe language delay -- she has very little conception of volume at all and certainly wouldn't grasp the idea of an unacceptable noise. The difference is that if she were kicking off I wouldn't subject other people to the noise longer than necessary (if I knew she was going to settle down in a couple of minutes they'd just have to lump it, but otherwise I'd move on as quickly as possible). I am going to have flashbacks to a ferry journey we were on recently where (obviously) we couldn't get off and I was aware of seemingly every eye on us as I desperately tried to get her to quieten down for the entire journey, though.

Pixel · 14/06/2013 21:44

YANBU (from 'family friendly' ex pub owner). People seem to interpret 'family friendly' not as highchairs/changing facilities/child's menu/willingness to warm bottles, but as 'let your child run riot, scream and break stuff while you pretend you haven't noticed'. Glad I'm out of that!

ThoughtsPlease · 14/06/2013 21:46

MrsOakenshield I posted earlier in the thread that if it was one of my children ultimately yes we would leave, I appreciate that you may not have read that though.

Actually I think it is odd that a screaming child would cause your own child to scream uncontrollably, but you did sound a little smug about how you deal so effectively with your own child that I was surprised that simply another child screaming would cause yours to and you to not be able to stop them, really? Confused

MrsOakenshield · 14/06/2013 21:51

gosh, another Hmm!

A screaming child would upset DD, possibly not to the extent of her really getting going, but enough to put an end to the trip? yes, quite possibly. And I never said I could always stop DD screaming, I simply said what steps I would take and that ultimately (and it wouldn't take long to get to this point) we would leave. Is that smug? I'm sorry if it came across like that.

ladymariner · 14/06/2013 21:54

YANBU, absolutely not......drives me insane when someone lets their child scream and does nothing to stop it. You were far more patient than I would have been.

MrsGeologist · 14/06/2013 21:58

YANBU. On more than one occasion I've had to leave a restaurant or cafe because one of the kids were kicking off. I can't stand listening to my own children screaming, the other customers will be able to stand it even less and it's just one of those things you have to accept as a parent, that sometimes you just aren't going to be able to have a nice little sit down and have something to eat and drink. Sometimes you just have to throw whatever you've got down your throat and beat a hasty retreat.

You should have probably told here beforehand though OP. you don't even have to be rude, something as simple as, 'would your DC like some crayons and paper to help them relax/calm down.'

Relax being a euphemism for 'shut the fuck up.'

If they don't, then just politely say that the noise is upsetting other customers and could they move outside if they can't get their DCs to be quieter.

pigletmania · 14/06/2013 21:58

Exactly pixel, tats te normal interpretation of being Chidren friendly, nt lowing your Chidren to run riot and behave badly whilst the arents do nothing

ThoughtsPlease · 14/06/2013 22:00

Gosh another what? Confused Confused

I am still confused how another child screaming would cause yours to scream so much that you couldn't stop them, when there is no other reason for your child to scream other than the fact that another child is screaming. Confused Confused Confused

It's not like you take two children and tell one they can have some chocolate, but the other can't and has to sit and watch the first one eat hers. That to me is an example of understanding how the actions of one child can affect the behaviour of another.

pigletmania · 14/06/2013 22:00

Sorry iPad typing is not good

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