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How should children behave in public?

318 replies

GrannyBags · 28/12/2019 15:28

Just been out for a meal with DH, DS and MIL. Pub restaurant, nothing posh. Fairly busy. A family came in and straight away the two children started running round, shouting and generally being disruptive. We ignored them, even when the smaller one bumped into our table. Middle aged couple sat next to us, noisy family on their other side. Woman obviously said something to her husband about the children. I didn’t hear what was said but the mother obviously did as she loudly announced ‘ Well at least my children are expressing themselves and not just glued to a screen’. Clearly this was aimed at DS who was watching videos on his phone. I know that he was being a bit anti social but at least he was quiet, he put it down when the food came and to be fair he doesn’t want to sit and listen to MIL describe her various ailments!
Have we now got to the point where disturbing other diners is seen as acceptable behaviour?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

567 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
hazeyjane · 28/12/2019 22:47

....and sometimes it isnt because he is struggling, ds can be happy loud, cross loud or loud loud....!!

Glitterfisher · 28/12/2019 22:49

I don't actually think its anyone else's business if a child is 'glued' to a screen at a dinner table in a restaurant. There could be any number of really good reasons why they are or it could purely be that the parents just want a break, it really doesnt hurt anyone else in the restaurant whatsoever. However children running around disturbing others is totally unacceptable.

My DS2 has autism and ADHD, he struggles to sit and wait for food just chatting or sitting there so we need to occupy him. He often will take his phone but plays word games or sudoku on it. Is that really any worse than if he was colouring or doing those things in a paper book.

We have had people on many occasions from when the DCs were tiny come up and sat how well behaved they were when we've been in a restaurant. We always made sure we were armed with activities they could do at the table and now they are teens we believe phones are ok as long as they dont have other children with them for company.

jellycatspyjamas · 28/12/2019 22:49

Just to say though I think that’s different to children (or indeed adults) who are noisy, have ticks etc just as part of who they are, and children do need to learn - and part of learning is trying things out, expecting children who are learning how to eat out, or who are testing out their capacity to cope in social situations to behave perfectly is a nonsense and quite different to children whose parents seem to ignore the mayhem their kids are causing while they enjoy their meal.

NicEv · 28/12/2019 22:51

There is a big difference between a screen and colouring in or blocks. Allowing kids to use screens is a parental choice - but obviously it would be better if your son was drawing or involved in conversation with family during the meal rather than sitting staring at a screen. It was hugely rude of the other woman to comment - but neither scenario is great IMO

CherryPavlova · 28/12/2019 22:57

PhilomenaChristmasPie I’ve no problem with any children going to somewhere like a spaghetti house and enjoying it enormously. If he wants to be there that’s a very good way of developing social skills.

I’m not suggesting for one minute children or adults with SEN should be hidden away. Rather that to take a child or adult into an environment they cannot cope with is actually an unkindness. Most children can be taught the ‘rules’ of socially acceptable behaviour. To just say we won’t bother and everyone else has to tolerate entirely inappropriate behaviour is not doing the children any favours.

newbingepisodes · 28/12/2019 23:03

I'd never let my kids run around in a restaurant it's not fair on the other people in there. I have in the past used iPad / phone but in my heart of hearts I don't like doing this either. So what I now do for my DS is fill a small Tupperware tub with Lego and take that with us. He will play with it at the table and interact with me and DH about what he's building too. I've found this to be the happy medium between iPad no interaction and no child entertainment.

Sleepyblueocean · 28/12/2019 23:07

As I said before a child with sn being noisy isn't necessarily a child not coping. In my child's class (secondary age) there is one child that 'sings' loudly, another that squeals and several that make loud repetitive noises. They are not not coping but are just 'being' and that should be accepted.

bumblingbovine49 · 28/12/2019 23:35

To those on this thread with children with SEN, it is probably best not to tie yourself in knots getting upset about the judgement we now.know is made of our parenting when we allow screens at tables

. DS ( ADHD and ASD) even now at 15 hates to sit at a table in a restaurant for more than about 30 mins. He generally has earphones in and or.muic on his phone nowadays ( though we have a rule that he removes them to actually eat and then he had to engage in conversation for that time) When we have finished eating, the earphones go straight back in again.
When he was younger 4-11years old) we used screens, usually videos or games and headphones when out and it made a massive difference to how well he could sit quietly for the 30-40 mins we needed to order and eat.

I spent a lot of time.when he was very small ( a toddler) carrying crayons, paper, toys , lego, play doh, comics, small toys, games to try to keep him entertained as I approve of screens at a table .and of.course didn't know at the time that DS has SEN, just that he was an extremely lively toddler with the concentration span of a gnat Nothing worked for more than 2-3 minutes. Trying to engage him in conversation, also did not work either. He just did not engage. I was so happy when I found the iPad worked when he was about 4-5 years old.

I give not a flying fuck what anyone thinks of my parenting for this .

Op. I assume you made judgement about whether your son should use a screen based on the specifics of the meal.he was attending and that is absolutely fine. The woman who made the comment and allowed her children to run around was a prat. Don't give it another thought.

AlorMy · 29/12/2019 00:07

I don’t believe you

Boned would complain about a quiet chid.

AlorMy · 29/12/2019 00:08

I don’t believe you.

No one would complain about a quiet child

ProfessionalBoss · 29/12/2019 00:18

@Vulpine as I said earlier, it is almost impossible to stop the more elderly family members from discussing it when we meet for lunches or dinners. Smh. HmmAngry you are clearly missing the point deliberately. You are not perfect, and we can see through your bs

Timmythatyou · 29/12/2019 00:22

It is possible to have your children sit at the table with the family and not run around and NOT have a screen either. But you would have to interact with your kid, chat, colour, play a game. So YABU for sticking him in front of a screen.

ProfessionalBoss · 29/12/2019 00:22


How should children behave in public?
How should children behave in public?
Timmythatyou · 29/12/2019 00:24

Oh and of course SEN kids are excluded from this comment so if your kid has SEN then I’m not having a pop at you for using a screen.

AndAnon · 29/12/2019 00:28

My DC (7 & 4) are absolutely not allowed to run around. It’s not safe and disruptive to others. I’m always shocked how many children seem to be allowed to.

I’m also surprised how many have screens as a first resort. We only very occasionally resort to them if we know younger DS is on the verge of a meltdown (he can get very overwhelmed by sound/smell stimulus so deploy noise cancelling headphones and a video if we absolutely can’t distract him with conversation). I’m constantly surprised that we often get very positive comments on their behaviour and table manners as they are no angels. I think generally the bar is quite low for behaviour nowadays.

AndAnon · 29/12/2019 00:35

I’m sure we do get judged when we do deploy screens but equally they would judge more if DS did have a meltdown.

I do know many parents (of children with no SN) who get a screen out and prop it up as soon as they arrive.

I think the main thing is to ensure children aren’t causing a disruption and spoiling a dining experience for others who are paying for that experience. This does depend on environment too. Quiet country pub where people are out for a romantic or celebratory occasion vs fast food style chain that markets to families.

AlexaShutUp · 29/12/2019 00:53

Allowing your kids to run around and disturb others is clearly anti-social and unacceptable behaviour. Nobody wants to have their evening disturbed by other people's children.

That said, once kids are past the toddler stage, assuming they are NT, I think they should be able to sit nicely and participate in family conversations. I do feel a little sad when older children are glued to screens, and I'm afraid I find myself judging the parents a little.

Toddlers are slightly different, I think. Some are able to sit nicely and interact with other family members from a very young age, but I appreciate that this is challenging for others and they're still too little to understand, so I can see why some parents resort to screens in those situations. Same for children with certain SEN. In those circumstances where a child is really not capable of sitting quietly and chatting with others, I guess the screens give the parents a chance to eat and also help to preserve everyone's sanity, so that's fair enough.

ProfessionalBoss · 29/12/2019 00:57

I just cannot believe the amount of parents who are being SO judgemental towards other people/parents.

Oh I do hope your angelic children grow up without needing anything whatsoever that people can judge them for... Oh wait, I realise now that is an impossibility, especially on mn. ShockHmmConfusedAngry

user1494182820 · 29/12/2019 01:05

My kids do not run around restaurants irritating other diners, neither do they sit glued to screens like zombies. We adjust our expectation according to their level of development and engage with them. They are part of the conversation, not just a nugget-consuming sideshow.

MumsGiraffeNet · 29/12/2019 01:20

I have never been in a situation with naughty children at the dinner table but I don't think that it is acceptable to let your children run around a sit down meal dinner table.
But in the other hand I have some sympathy for the family's with you children because young children aren't going to sit still for more than an hour so I think If you are out with children. Take some small toys or colouring books and let the children enjoy playing with their toys instead of running around the dinner table.

jellycatspyjamas · 29/12/2019 01:23

This does depend on environment too. Quiet country pub where people are out for a romantic or celebratory occasion

I think that’s part of it - I wouldn’t take my children to somewhere known for couples having a romantic occasion because, while they can behave, they’re still children and would struggle to cope with a fairly formal or wholly adult environment. I book family celebrations in less formal restaurants used to catering to children. I don’t think it’s fair to take my kids somewhere that they are likely to struggle with social norms - it puts undue pressure on them to behave beyond the point they’ve develop to.

MumsGiraffeNet · 29/12/2019 01:27

@jellycatspyjamas I don't think taking children out for a meal is beneath the children they can handle going out for a family sit down dinner. However they are children and might get bored so I don't understand why you can't take a child out to a restaurant and let them take a small toy. This was they will sit quiet but they can enjoy your company and you can enjoy theirs.

jellycatspyjamas · 29/12/2019 02:01

I’ve never said it was beneath them, I said I pick my venue - it doesn’t matter how able my kids are to sit, it’s not fair to impose fine dining behaviour on them. I’ve also never said I would allow a book or colouring to entertain them - I don’t allow screens at the table for kids and adults wouldn’t usually bring phones to dinner either. So much black and white thinking on this thread.

MumsGiraffeNet · 29/12/2019 02:06

@jellycatspyjamas I don't think there is a problem with teaching young children proper etiquette otherwise how are they ever going to lean etiquette? I don't think screens are acceptable at the table but a colouring book would be fine and they can sit quietly with a colouring book in any setting wether it be at your friends dinner table or at a dinner restaurant,

Nat6999 · 29/12/2019 02:53

I always took some kind of activity for ds to keep him quiet if we ate out, a comic with stickers, a drawing pad, pencil & crayons, a couple of toy cars or his cuddly dog who he would play quietly with. As he got older he moved on to playing on my smart phone. He was never allowed to wander round & always behaved really well. Some places have a family dining area so if you want you can sit away from noisy kids.

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