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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
jamoncrumpets · 28/12/2019 19:10

Their invisible disabilities are still disabilities and ignorant discrimination based on judgement of a situation you don't know all the ins and outs of .. is still discrimination.*

DrCoconut · 28/12/2019 19:11

Very true about colouring in or books. When I was younger both of these caused cats bum face among older people as children shouldn't need entertainment, it's rude to sit with your face glued to a book, toddlers shouldn't be in restaurants if they can't behave etc. If you were taken you sat in silence, unless spoken to, with your hands on your knees other than if using them to (politely) eat. I think I was naturally good at sitting still though, it wasn't just down to parenting. I famously sat through an evening performance of Handel's messiah at the age of 3. My brother wouldn't have done that, I can remember going to very grownup occasions when I was a bit older and really enjoying them. I liked to feel older and included. My own kids aren't into meals out, concerts, theatre (other than panto etc) and I don't force it on them, and everyone else.

ivykaty44 · 28/12/2019 19:14

If you say so jamoncrumpets, issue is now an ableist word and not to be used

selmabear · 28/12/2019 19:16

The mother was in wrong allowing her children to run around. Hot food are carried, trays of drinks. She wasn't keeping them safe. She could have taken toys, colouring books etc for her kids to express themselves through rather than let them potentially hurt themselves or someone else.

hazeyjane · 28/12/2019 19:16

Well it's all a bit wearying isn't it, @jamoncrumpets!!

If I had a very hard to manage child I would avoid eating out probably.....Or I would have a few places notched up where the environment was acceptable eg. had a play area on site
That would be us fucked for going out as a family then!! Ds loves eating out, and we want to go out as a family, but...yes, sometimes he finds it hard to manage certain elements (waiting, someone's food smelling wierd, someone smelling wierd (!) , a person with a loud sudden laugh, getting reflux during the meal and about 100 other often unpredictable 'things') Some of these things we can try and have strategies in place to deal with, often we are flying by the seat of our fucking pants!!

Going somewhere with a play area.....aiiieeee....we'd never get out alive.

If someone came up and asked if there was an issue, well I'm not sure if I'd laugh or cry....ds would probably crawl under the table, dd2 would fix you with the pre teen deathstare she is perfecting and dd1 would be mortified and quite possibly perfect the art of actually becoming invisible.

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 19:16

@jamoncrumpets it's ok love, I've been doing this SEN parenting for 10 years now and each passing year presents new and interesting things for me to learn and find a 'way around'

There was once a time I would get very angry and flustered with being stared at, obviously judged and or tutted at. I've been quite tearful at times, left abruptly and upset all three children, I've raged on Facebook and actual people in cafes and restaurants but over time I've mellowed to a place where I will endeavour to educate and raise awareness because my mad rambling was feeding into their idea I was a shite parent. Plus people never like to be told they're being inappropriate or unkind and shouting at them about it gets nowhere fast.

I did the incredible years course to help manage challenging behaviour from the boys - it taught me a lot about positive opposites .. so instead of 'don't slam the door' you'd hes 'please shut the doors gently' or 'it makes me so proud when you close the door properly'

That alongside child led play, praise, persistence and social and emotional coaching plus clear boundaries and rules to which we stick like glue.. the children have improved ten fold..

So I implement it on the adults that scorn and judge my disabled babies.. 'Arran see those people across from us, they're having a lovely lunch like us and I think they're impressed when you manage to regulate your emotions and eat with your fork' then I'll smile sweetly across and give a wave or ' boys do you see how nicely those people are sat with their children for their meal, isn't that really lovely to see - shall we try and have a go at it too?'.

If we're having some sensory or overloading issues and one of them gets noisy it fidgets and someone begins to complain I'll pointedly talk about a time we learned something in therapy sessions to help with that moment and do it with them.

If that doesn't get the point across subtly I will go out of my way to loudly thank tolerant staff or other diners for their kind and understanding approach to my disabled children's needs. Xx

jamoncrumpets · 28/12/2019 19:21

So only when behaved NT kids should go out. And disabled kids are allowed out only to a handful of places and preferably should alert people nearby to any 'issues' that may arise.

Great. And it's nearly 2020. I'm just off to iron my hands...

FlyTipper · 28/12/2019 19:22

Jamoncrumpets: I don't want you to feel depressed. I am also not judging you on your choices. I'm not you, I don't have your unique set of stresses and worries and desires. As such I can only speak for myself. You asked what others would do. I would not want indigestion whilst eating out. So I would choose an easy life. Your choices will be informed by other considerations; choices that are neither better nor worse than mine. Please believe me when I say I'm sure you're making the best decisions for you and your family. I wish you well.

Sleepyblueocean · 28/12/2019 19:23

When you have a distressed child, often the last thing you want is a stranger getting involved. It's guaranteed to upset my son more and all my attention needs to be on him - not some random who probably has no understanding of his disability.

jellycatspyjamas · 28/12/2019 19:28

I think a neurotypical 11 should be able to sit and enjoy eating out with being on a screen - mine are 6 and 8 and mostly manage to eat and behave well. We usually do a mix of places with a play area and more adult places to eat and the expectation is that they behave. We might bring a colouring book or a quiet toy but we don’t have screens at the table for anyone adult or child. I don’t really notice or care what other parents do with their kids though, I’m too busy keeping my own occupied. I wouldn’t gave my children running around a restaurant in any event because it’s simply not safe.

I think it’s important for children to be included in social experiences and can understand the frustration from parents who have children who don’t have the capacity to behave the way others think they should. I tend to find parents with children who have disabilities have a range of strategies for helping them enjoy eating out/social occasions and really if their child is a disturbance to other diners, it says more about the other diners and their acceptance of difference than anything else.

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 19:30

@Sleepyblueocean precisely that is what your child needs and anyone breaching that is likely to exacerbate the already difficult situation.. however for other people the bigger anxiety is of the parent and those of us would 100% rather someone politely and sincerely ask if we're ok or if there's anything they can do to help .. it isn't for everyone and I respect that fully.

For example yesterday we went ice skating and there was a lady with her three grandsons, clearly the younger two had some issues and she wasn't having an easy time. When she went to retrieve their shoes they got into a real fight and everyone else around stood there and shouted at them.

I simply went over and detached them from each other and sat them apart out of contact and calmly asked them to slow their breathing and have a think about where they went wrong - when granny returned she was in tears apologising and clearly very used to judgement from parents and members of the public.

I simply told her she had no reason to apologise and as long as the boys apologise to each other we can consider it done with. They did so and we chatted for 20 mins and she left feeling listened to, supported and least of all incapable or wishing she'd stayed home.

It cost me nothing and meant a lot to her and that's the point I'm making judgment and scorn costs the same as patience and an attempt at understanding however one damages the other person and one empowers them x

ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah · 28/12/2019 19:34

I wouldn't be overjoyed at a child coming to 'take my order' but I would be polite to them. I can't believe anyone would be so rude and horrible as to tell a child to 'fuck off'. Sad

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 19:37

@ahenderson270 next time I need to take my boys shopping, please could you follow us around and intervene where needed? Will pay in cash and overpriced frothy coffees.

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 19:40

@HoHoHoik absolutely!! In all seriousness if you're in the NW of England I'd happily got for an outing with you and yours I'll probably bring mine too! I'm all for us parents .. not just SEN parents but ALL parents coming together to support and assist each other's weaknesses with our own strengths.

How much happier would we all be ❤️

BettyBizzghetti · 28/12/2019 19:44

Have we now got to the point where disturbing other diners is seen as acceptable behaviour?

Have we now got to the point where the choice is either disturbing other diners, or being on a screen?

I used to Do Stuff with my DC when we went out, in an attempt to socialise them (talk, read, colour, play card games, etc, etc). They're now 15-18 and are pretty good socially now. I think those who are stuck with screens are as bad in their own way as those who are allowed to run riot.

Teateaandmoretea · 28/12/2019 20:20

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.

Yep you see this in the UK too 🙄

You've gotta love the MN stock 'oh it's wonderful in mainland Europe' response on every bloody thread.

Thankfully the UK is more child friendly than it used to be, even if that isn't clear from the thread.

CactusAndCacti · 28/12/2019 20:22

I think ivykate and flytipper have had an unfair bashing here, it is a perfectly reasonable suggestion of only going to certain places.

Why would I want to do something that causes stress and anxiety not just to my DS but by extension to me? Eating out isn't that important, certainly not important enough to have to implement a whole load of strategies to deal with the situation, when he won't eat any food anyway.

Teateaandmoretea · 28/12/2019 20:24

They're now 15-18 and are pretty good socially now

Hahahaha have a 🏆

I should hope so 😂😂😂

BettyBizzghetti · 28/12/2019 20:34

Thanks, @Teateaandmoretea I have always wanted one.

Kaykay066 · 28/12/2019 20:42

My youngest son (8) has additional needs and is a lovely boy but often has episodes where he is quite hyper and overwhelmed so taking him out is stressful. However I wouldn’t allow him to run around in a restaurant. I move him outside and spend some time talking/calming or his guided meditation can help. I wouldn’t take him out if he was already high as it wouldn’t be fair but it has ruined a few meals/days out if he’s not been able to settle down. We have many coping strategies/mechanisms but he’s not a robot so they don’t always work.

We probably do get judged as he looks perfectly normal but I don’t give a flying fig as when he starts I’m doing my best to remove him calmly and make correct/safe decisions about staying or continuing & making sure he isn’t going to run out of the door it’s really exhausting always thinking one step ahead and being aware of every move he makes etc. I do my best to make sure he doesn’t upset/disturb other people but he does have a right to eat out and be out and about, he just need a bit extra support and understanding (I need a clone of myself too)

gingerbiscuits · 28/12/2019 20:57

You're not being unreasonable at all- I can't bear it when people let their kids run amok, unsupervised, in public places - especially restaurants! Very unfair on the staff as well as other diners.

We have family/friends that did this when their kids were little & we stopped going out with them in the end as it was bloody mortifying! Our son was always kept amused by colouring, puzzles, games, conversation, iPad videos of Thomas the Tank Engine etc & if he got fractious, one of us took him out, or, on one hideously memorable occasion, we just abandoned our meal & went home altogether - no way were we gonna sit there for another hour or more with a suddenly very grumpy, grizzly toddler, who was spoiling our lunch experience, never mind everyone else's!

Unfortunately, the world is full of selfish chavs who don't parent like you do. It's SO annoying!!

Savuti · 28/12/2019 21:02

Does it have to be a choice between glued to screen or running around mad? I know which would affect me the least if I was eating. However I don't think either are ideal.
Chat / play / interact with your children. I think there's a time and place for screens on planes etc when you really do have to sit a small child for a very long time. But I'd be concerned if a child couldn't eat a meal with family and have to have a screen.

eeyore228 · 28/12/2019 21:04

Don’t mind children at restaurants etc...until they treat it like a playground. I cannot stand screeching, running and bashing into tables. It’s just rude and totally disrespectful. I take my children out and would expect the same. No one else’s meal should be ruined because some people believe this is acceptable or cannot ask their children to respect others.

tillytrotter1 · 28/12/2019 21:09

In a similar situation when the manager had asked them to stop their sprogs running round as hot food was being carried and he was ignored we made a very clear point of giving the manager our number in case there was an accident and he needed someone to confirm the breeders' lack of care for their childrens' safety. There are the type who would be screaming for 'compo' were there an accident caused by their family.

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 21:13

But I'd be concerned if a child couldn't eat a meal with family and have to have a screen.

Concerned why? My sons sometimes can't get through a meal without having a screen the entire time, sometimes they only need it for part of the time, sometimes not at all. Why should they or their NT siblings miss out on special food that they enjoy or family gatherings or simply having something to eat during a day out just because someone at the next table is concerned about children using screens? Bunging them the iPad can often make all the difference between having to leave and being able to stay.

In all seriousness if you're in the NW of England

NE England. You sound great though, wish more people could be so understanding.

Youngest DS was once having a meltdown in the middle of Newcastle, part of the reason we don't go there very often, and I'd sort of shuffled him off to one side of the walkway so he wasn't directly in peoples way while he shrieked face down on the floor. I was getting plenty of looks and heard bits and pieces of comments then this woman walking past with two teens gave me a huge smile as she went by and said "you're doing a fabulous job! It'll get easier, I promise!" It made a shitty situation a tiny bit less shitty.

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