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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?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 17:20

I get involved with what is on my DC's screens, DS has a maths game that we play together as well as some drawing apps and DD has some card games that can be played together. All three older DC use their tablets for reading too, their schools have online reading schemes so they might even be reading school books while waiting for their food.

The only difference is it makes some parents feel superior when it fact both do the same thing, entertain kids for the short period of time.

So very true.

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 17:20

Why is sitting at a table in a restaurant any different from sitting at a table at home and having a family meal?

I don't allow screens at the table at home Wink

DisorganisedOrganiser · 28/12/2019 17:21


Possibly different food that kids don’t like
More stimulation for the kids
Or... less stimulation if adults just talking amongst themselves
Long wait for the food whereas at home you don’t come to the table until it is ready
Expectation to sit still for long periods of time when at home they might be able to get up and move
Need to be quieter than at home

And the biggest one...
Judgemental other diners watching your every move.

DisorganisedOrganiser · 28/12/2019 17:24

HoHoHoik Grin.

Family mealtimes in the real world with toddlers / young kids usually involve at least one child complaining they do not like the food, kids trying to get up from the table 1000 times and having to be reseated, running off and being reseated, crying, siblings fighting, if young children banging cutlery on the table, spilling food, spilling drinks.

Then you try taking that into a restaurant.

BigSandyBalls2015 · 28/12/2019 17:26

I can’t bear kids running about in restaurants. Mine are late teens and went through a phase of trying to misbehave like this and we stopped taking them out to eat, complete waste of money and very stressful. We also stopped going out with a family we were close to as they didn’t care if their kids made a nuisance of themselves.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 17:26

I’m not allowed screens at the dinner table, my offspring won’t allow it 😂

Perhaps sitting with children at a table at home, making it a social occasion each week.

Making sure you order bread to start to nibble on when out.

These types of things help youngsters get used to eating at the table and actually enjoying the experience

Rosebel · 28/12/2019 17:27

When mine were little we always went somewhere that had soft play or a playground so they could play without disturbing others. They knew that when we were eating though they had to sit down and not be too noisy. We didn't often go out anyway but this made it easier.
The women had no right to criticise you and your son just because she couldn't control her children.

SunsetBoulevard3 · 28/12/2019 17:30

If kids are on screens they are tuned out. They aren’t engaging in conversation with others at the table or listening. If they are colouring in they are still listening. Any child over about 7 ought to be able to sit at a table and listen/ converse without throwing a strop or running around.

ArtieFufkinPolymerRecords · 28/12/2019 17:34

I hate seeing kids with phones and tablets at tables. It teaches them nothing about good behaviour or manners in public. Children need to be bored sometimes and know that it's part of life and whether they are finding something interesting or not that they participate regardless.
Children with phones or tablets to occupy them are learning that their behaviour should not negatively impact on others.

Media devices have no place at a dinner table and I am as scornful of these families when I eat out as I am of the feral ones running around. Neither are examples of 'good' behaviour. Just different types of 'bad'.

When I go out for a meal I go to enjoy the food and the company of the people I am with, not to judge the other diners, but I will judge those who negatively affect my enjoyment, so I really don't care how they entertain their children so long as they are bothering me.

my2bundles · 28/12/2019 17:34

Sunrise. Why not just allow other families to enjoy their meal out and deal with it in the way that suits their individual children. My son always talks to.me about what's happend g with his ipad games, constant look mummy look 😂so I highly doubt he us tuned out from the rest of us. Trust that others actually do know their own kids best and butt out.

Teateaandmoretea · 28/12/2019 17:35

If kids are on screens they are tuned out. They aren’t engaging in conversation with others at the table or listening. If they are colouring in they are still listening. Any child over about 7 ought to be able to sit at a table and listen/ converse without throwing a strop or running around.

What's it to you? Don't allow your DC screens then but other people disagree so they can linger longer what's the big deal? I've never seen such a load of judgy shite tbh.

I am also slightly baffled about these restaurants up and down the country with lots of dc running amok everywhere. The vast majority I see eating out are behaving perfectly well. Why don't we ever have that mentioned on a thread?

ArtieFufkinPolymerRecords · 28/12/2019 17:35

not bothering me obviously

Teateaandmoretea · 28/12/2019 17:36

@mybundles quite it's so bizarrely overinvested.

user1493494961 · 28/12/2019 17:39

I don't like kids running around or screens at dining tables.

SunsetBoulevard3 · 28/12/2019 17:40

The point of a family meal out or at home is to teach children how to interact with others, how to I observe, engage and learn table manners. It is to teach them to wait, to be patient, to pace themselves. They don’t learn any of these things if they are plonked in front of a screen in their own world.
In France or Italy or Spain you see large family groups sitting for hours eating and talking. The children know how to behave and none of them are on screens or running about a restaurant.

my2bundles · 28/12/2019 17:45

Sunset my kids have learnt all those things, my son esp gets complimented on his amazing behaviour and manners. I still allow screens during meals where there are no other children and its dominated by adult chat.

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 17:48

I am also slightly baffled about these restaurants up and down the country with lots of dc running amok everywhere. The vast majority I see eating out are behaving perfectly well. Why don't we ever have that mentioned on a thread?

Same here. I rarely see children running around in a restaurant and when I do they are usually always either of an age where they're not old enough to know better or are the receiving end of a parent doing the gritted teeth 'I can't blast you because we're out in public' voice telling them to get... sat ... down ... now".

I have never met anyone who claims their misbehaving child is expressing themselves, the only time I've heard it said in real life is sarcastically.

Cremebrule · 28/12/2019 17:50

I think screens are different. For me, something like colouring can be a joint activity where they can dip in and out. I know my child zonks out in front of tv which is why I wouldn’t have them at the table. But, I’d much rather be sat next to a quiet child on an IPad than a screaming one without.

Vulpine · 28/12/2019 17:52

I don't think I've ever seen a kid read a book on their device in public, - videos and games are all I've ever seen. We are no screens at the table at home or out

LittleReindeer · 28/12/2019 17:54

When you’re in public it’s your responsibility to be considerate and not bother others. No loud blasting music. No screaming or fighting. No running around. That applies whether you’re 4 or 40. Children need to stay in their seats and be reasonably quiet, it’s bad parenting to let them run around in a place such as a restaurant where you’re supposed to be seated.

ProfessionalBoss · 28/12/2019 17:57

I have been known to offer my mobile phone as a distraction before and after meals (not during) to my nephew when I don't want him to be involved or overhear "adult" conversation such as how I'm managing with my disability, how other family members are doing with cancer, etc etc, as he is MUCH too young to know the ins and outs of health problems, yet at an age where he's naturally curious. I think adults should be mindful of the presence of children and adapt the conversations appropriately, but there is absolutely no telling the more elderly members of the party that it's not acceptable to be discussing such matters in front of the children...

lowlandLucky · 28/12/2019 17:58

I was in a cafe many years ago when a child ran into a woman carrying a tray of freshly poured coffee, i can still hear that childs screams.I can also still hear the mother screaming because she knew it was her fault he child was going through hell. Some parents need to think !

newlifenewme2020 · 28/12/2019 18:00

I remember one poster on here it was years ago now that said her little darlings running around and going to talk to other tables was them expressing themselves and learning to interact. She even gave her son a little pad and pencil to go around all the tables and take “orders” as a game.
Even when the whole thread said she was unreasonable she still would not have it

ProfessionalBoss · 28/12/2019 18:03

@Vulpine when my nephew has my mobile he's reading about his interests, as he is now old enough to read, and he enjoys learning new things. But yes, when he couldn't read, educational games or videos were a go to for me... He does like drawing and colouring too, and as I always have a notebook and pens in my bag, that is often used if we're out and the conversation is appropriate, but I find that he tends to "listen in" more when doing art, and my mobile offers a complete distraction from the adult chat.

jamoncrumpets · 28/12/2019 18:04

My DS can't sit still for a whole meal, he also can't regulate the volume of his voice. He's 5 and autistic. Should I just never take him out for lunch? Genuinely interested to know your thoughts

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