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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?


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ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah · 28/12/2019 16:19

We'd look forward to it for weeks

Yes, that's exactly how it was for us. And we'd look back on it for weeks too, remembering in detail exactly what everyone had to eat. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a meal out as an adult quite as much as those I had as a child, even though they were only modest local restaurants serving 80s classics such as prawn cocktail, chicken kiev and black forest gateau. We were always allowed to eat from the adult menu rather than being forced to have fish fingers or the like. Oh, to be eight years old again!

superram · 28/12/2019 16:19

I said yanbu with the caveat that there was no sound (yes even at low volume, tinny shitty kids programmes are annoying). On the whole we don’t allow poor behaviour or screens (it’s taken a long time.....) but if it was a meal where the adults wanted a bit of peace and chat (for example friends you don’t see often) then screens and headphones are fine-after the food.

Durgasarrow · 28/12/2019 16:19

I don't think it's ideal for kids to run around, and I don't think it's ideal for kids to stare at a screen at a restaurant. This would be an ideal time to engage a child in conversation.

DisorganisedOrganiser · 28/12/2019 16:21

Ok well I know a lot of young children. None of them would consider eating out a treat. Especially if they have a lot of energy. A hot chocolate in a cafe yes. An actual proper meal, no.

Glad to hear some children do consider it a treat. Obviously if they do then you can use it as leverage to get them to behave.

People love judging. If they can judge the kids and the parents, so much the better.

Okbutno · 28/12/2019 16:21

I think children should be allowed to be kids to some extent. So in your example playing a game at a table and being a bit noisy or similar. But not running around or shouting. Also it does depend on the place too. It does irritate me in pubs in particular when kids are really noisy.

my2bundles · 28/12/2019 16:23

There are lots of opportunities everyday to have conversations with my kids, it's constant. But when we have a meal out with other adults and no other kids an ipad is usefull. Kids don't need to be the centre of everything all the time.

Lllot5 · 28/12/2019 16:24

Well how do you think children behaved before screens were invented?
If the choice is running about or sitting quietly watching a phone then I’d take phone every time. But at 11 shouldn’t be necessary really.

LilQueenie · 28/12/2019 16:24

I don't agree with kids running around in places like this. Its too easy to get hurt with a scalding drink for one.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 16:25

Children should be allowed to play, run about and let of steam. There are many places they can do this, but at a pub isn’t one of these places.

SourAndSnippy · 28/12/2019 16:25

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’

Really? That sounds to silly to be true? Are you sure?

ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah · 28/12/2019 16:26

Ok well I know a lot of young children. None of them would consider eating out a treat.

Such a shame. Maybe they're not being taken to restaurants that are different enough from the food they have at home?

DisorganisedOrganiser · 28/12/2019 16:26

Maybe Screaming. I can’t imagine why... oh wait, the never ending judgement of other diners perhaps.

KaptainKaveman · 28/12/2019 16:29

watching videos on a phone whilst eating in a restaurant is far worse.

Scotmummy1216 · 28/12/2019 16:30

I go between screen and crayons colouring in for my toddler. We don't often take her out for tea/lunch unless it has a place she can run around soft play or outside play area (obviously supervised as shes only 2) lucky have a couple of places nearby like this. I do think if you go to place thats family friendly you shouldn't expect it to be quiet but if fancy etc i would question why you would take children there, leave them at home.

Barbararara · 28/12/2019 16:30

I’ve been criticised for allowing my dc to draw in notebooks at the table, read, sit under table at my feet playing with cars, sit on my lap, eat off my plate instead of their own, bringing baby food instead of making them eat off my plate....people love to judge.

I don’t think dc should be annoying other diners or running about or be too noisy. I don’t think they should be excluded either by being left at home, or with screens, or, as in my childhood, being expected to sit up straight, without fidgeting and speak only when spoken to. If you’re not interfering with other people’s meals then do whatever works for you.

Scotmummy1216 · 28/12/2019 16:31

@ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah its not the food... its being made to sit still for several hours. Toddlers do not enjoy that

YappityYapYap · 28/12/2019 16:32

If we end up waiting a long time for the food to arrive, me or DH will take DS for a little walk around and hold his hand. We never usually end up waiting for ages though and he'll sit and play on his kindle (with the volume down) or do some colouring in. He's quite restless but we manage to keep him entertained when out so that he is never running about a restaurant. It's dangerous to be honest

MarieIVanArkleStinks · 28/12/2019 16:32

'Expressing themselves'. Ugh. I unrepentently judge people who churn out this oft-regurgitated expression as justification for their kids being nuisances to everyone else.

ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah · 28/12/2019 16:33

Ah, I was thinking of children a bit older than toddlers, Scotmummy - more five and upwards, when they'll be used to sitting still at school.

GrumpyHoonMain · 28/12/2019 16:35

I hate it when British parents force kids to opt out of family life using screens instead of managing their behaviour in public settings. At 11 and SEN / SN aside, I would expect OP’s son to be able to converse with his gran for the time it takes to have dinner.

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 16:45

I don't think the other mother was aiming her comment at you, it sounds like a generalised comeback to this other woman rather than specifically aimed at you/your table.

I don't know why you're getting a pasting about your DS being on a screen either. A screen with either no volume or headphones is no more obtrusive than a colouring book, reading book, or stickers and a notepad. We use screens to keep our DC occupied between courses and to help keep them from getting restless so they stay at the table.

Children shouldn't be running around in restaurants. If they want to go to the toilet or if there is something they want to go look at then they should walk sensibility to see it, for example our local has a play area outside, if they cannot walk sensibly to/from it themselves then an adult should walk with them. They shouldn't be running round as its dangerous for them and for others. And while I'd expect a certain level of chatter and 'kid noise' in a family restaurant (e.g., little ones getting excited and needing to be reminded to use inside voices), deliberate and prolonged shrieking and shouting from children who are old enough to be able to control their volume is not acceptable.

FlyTipper · 28/12/2019 16:51

Kids need to be educated on how to behave in restaurants. For that, they need to a/ go to restaurants and b/ have the parents give appropriate guidance.

In France, nurseries have kids as young as 3 sitting for three course meals that last longer than 30 mins. Most children 5+ should be able to cope with, no enjoy, sitting to a nice lunch out.

cripsysausagerolls · 28/12/2019 16:51

I think there is a hierarchy of things you would ideally see in a restaurant. Children running around is much worse than a quiet child on a screen, but the screen isn’t ideal either.

We took toddler DS to carluccios yesterday - we seldom take him for a proper meal anywhere because he isn’t fabulous at sitting, but we try because he needs to learn (and leave before it becomes a situation where he leaves his high chair). We basically managed to entertain him putting bits and bobs in cups and drawing and then had to eat at the speed of light and GTFO before all hell broke loose. I’m hoping if we continue this he will learn about sitting still/amusing himself and stretch to longer periods of time. If he can’t do that I don’t really want to take him anywhere 🙈 but the onus is on me to teach him.

No one wants to see darling Augusta practicing her ballet in the middle of the restaurant/careering into waiters whilst her parents swoon

Notnownotneverever · 28/12/2019 16:51

Actually personally I can’t stand seeing children sitting on electronic devices during a mealtime in the house or out at a restaurant or cafe. I just think it’s not teaching them how to socialise with each other, between family, friends, general people. I think this is a life skill that it is important for our next generation to learn. We have yet to see the full impact of the children who haven’t learn this but I don’t think it will reap good consequences.
That said the woman in your scenario was extremely rude and her comments uncalled for. You had made a decision about your own child and that was fine and completely your own business and not hers.

Drabarni · 28/12/2019 16:52

It's changing times, my kids didn't have screens, they weren't about.
My gd is very familiar with swiping at 16 months old.
Teach them how to behave, with or without technology.
What is acceptable now wouldn't have been when my kids were little, kids were well behaved, generally speaking. You can't say that today.

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