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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
astralweaks · 28/12/2019 21:14

Well. That’s how they should behave.

Isithometimeyet0987 · 28/12/2019 21:17

I really hate when people allow their kids to run around disturbing every other person in the restaurant because they couldn’t be bothered parenting their child. I have a dd 4 who knows not to run around, scream and shout while in a restaurant, I wouldn’t even allow her to act like this during mealtimes at home. She has a small child’s handbag with a notebook, a couple of coloured pencils, a small reading book and a small doll inside which she takes with her when we are out and she plays quietly with them or talks to people at our table she’s a wee chatter box (but most definitely not allowed roam around, talking only to whoever’s close to her). I have always taken her out since a newborn as we eat out at least once a week often with friends or family, we have always taught her to behave. She loves it, she likes eating her bread roll (we always order bread incase of a long wait), getting small glass of fizzy juice (she not allowed this at home normally) and getting to choose from a list of food and of course getting a desert. I always get judgemental looks as I’m a very young mother (22) and it’s usually the ones staring at me who’s kids are disturbing everyone by running around, shouting or playing cartoons/games loudly on their iPads!

tillytrotter1 · 28/12/2019 21:18

Any child over about 7 ought to be able to sit at a table and listen/ converse without throwing a strop or running around

At that age it is a social skill they should be learning whether they like it or not. If they don't learn it then they can't go out to eat.

Celerysam · 28/12/2019 21:23

Surely if children are used to sitting around a family dining table every day at home then going out for a meal is no different and they shouldn't need to have screens to keep them entertained and they should understand that you don't run around either?

DisorganisedOrganiser · 28/12/2019 21:24

Celerysam you are assuming that they sit around a family table every day at home . You are also assuming that they stay seated at the table for long periods of time quietly and without screens at home. Lots of children don’t do this.

Savuti · 28/12/2019 21:26

@hohohoik if your children have SEN then that's a different matter. I would be concerned if an NT child couldn't sit through a meal and had to have a screen.

ProfessionalBoss · 28/12/2019 21:28

@Vulpine so you would be perfectly happy discussing disability or cancer with a young child? FFS I know plenty of adults who can't handle those conversations... HmmConfusedBiscuit

HoHoHoik · 28/12/2019 21:43

We sit at the table for our evening meal every day and for breakfast Monday to Friday but our home dining table doesn't have the same set of external stimuli, anxiety inducers, and distractions as a table in a restaurant does.

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 21:49

@HoHoHoik well I'm
Pleased for you that one lady gave a you look of understanding and helped you in her own way with that moment. It's a shame you're so far away because honestly I'd love for more parents to hook up with a gaggle of children both NT and ND and just support each other ❤️

For those of you continuing to not 'get it' you can by all means tell us about your beautifully behaved toddlers , socially developed 7 year olds and no nonsense parenting and we will listen.. but when you then complain about children displaying certain behaviours such as screeching, running, being unpredictable on one hand and then on The other say 'but if they aren't NT then it's ok' because well.. simply children with neurologically diverse conditions don't have any outward indicators. They don't have a wheelchair, an aide or stick .. they just outwardly appear as though any other child.

So when you're next sat with your model 4 year old playing with a doll or colouring, or your socially developed 7 year old is holding a flawless conversation and neither require a screen to get through a meal to drown out sensory overload from the onslaught of sights, sounds, smells .. and someone's 8 or 9 year old begins suddenly bouncing about, or yelling, or screeching or singing at the very tops of his perfectly developed lungs (you can tell that's a personal fave of ours hah) before you tut.. roll your eyes, comment to the person beside you how annoying it is, complain to the waiting staff .. just pause.

Consider a couple of things.. 1) do you know a single jot about that family, their dynamics or that child? 2) are you being physically harmed in any way shape or form or are you being inconvenienced? 3) might the behaviour you're about to embark upon cause harm (physical or emotional) on the parent or child involved?

Just pause and think that's all us SEN mums will ask of you.. that and if your answer to question 3) has any chance whatsoever of being a yes .. just don't. Please god just don't!

Rosebel · 28/12/2019 21:52

How would you know if a child has SEN though? Lots of children have invisible disabilities.
Eating at home is different as we don't sit at the table until the food is ready. Also once everyone has eaten they can ask to be excused. My children are old enough to know how to behave when we're out but it's very different to being at home.

Vulpine · 28/12/2019 21:55

Profboss - i would not have those kinds of conversations around kids.

JoeysTurkey · 28/12/2019 22:13

Children shouldn't be allowed to 'express' themselves somewhere where they can get a bowl of soup/tray of drinks dropped on their head by serving staff. You'd hope that was common sense but obviously not.

SunsetBoulevard3 · 28/12/2019 22:18

I think it’s good training for kids to learn to wait and be patient. Conversation whilst waiting is teaching them social skills. If they are doing something on a screen they aren’t learning social skills. Also adults need to be careful about subject matter and language when with kids, it goes without saying.
Of course if there are children with special needs that’s a different ball game, but most kids benefit from learning to sit and wait, not make a noise and interact with adults and other children without the need for screens.

JoeysTurkey · 28/12/2019 22:19

I wouldn't even notice a child using a tablet/phone while eating out if the volume wasn't really loud. I also don't care about a child talking, playing, sitting under the table, colouring etc. None of it would affect me and I wouldn't judge it. Running around isn't fair on the diners or the staff, that's why I would judge it.

PhilomenaChristmasPie · 28/12/2019 22:23

DS2 has a screen when we eat out because he has ADHD and it would be impossible to take him anywhere without it. We're going to the Spaghetti House on 3rd January with a load of friends, we definitely couldn't go if I didn't bring the tablet. I'm hoping he behaves while I book the Uber home.

CherryPavlova · 28/12/2019 22:26

I guess I’m of the view that as with any child, children with SEN can be badly behaved too and its not all down to their disabilities.

I think research shows Tourette’s profanities, for example, to be about 10% uncontrollable, for example. Nobody would comment on a child clicking or having tics that were moderate. If the stress on a child with SEN in a particular environment is such that they cannot contain extreme behaviour, then its a bit unkind to put them in that position.

Having spent much time in restaurants and dining halls eating with children and young people with SEN and fostering young people with severe EBD, I know full well many can be expected to adhere to reasonable social norms. Not perfect, but not running around, not shouting or having meltdowns. If they cannot then it probably isn’t the right place for them. Assuming children with SEN cannot have any control over their behaviour sets very low expectations.

I think to just not care about the impact on others is just incredibly selfish and unreasonable.

jellycatspyjamas · 28/12/2019 22:31

@ahenderson270 I’m sorry you’ve experienced such judgement when out and about with your children. I can’t speak for others but my expectations for my children (who do have some degree of additional needs) is quite separate from how I view other parents. The OP referred to her 11 year old playing on a tablet - I do think in usual circumstances, in the absence of additional needs, sensory processing difficulties etc an 11 year should be able to sit and eat a meal without being on a screen. In saying that, many adults find that challenging so little wonder children struggle.

I don’t know the circumstances of random people I meet so my assumption is that they are doing their best in their own circumstances and know their own child’s needs and capacities as I do mine. I don’t judge and often try to offer support - even if that just takes the form of a sympathetic look while I sort my own kids out. It’s not an either/or, you can have a view on children’s behaviour generally while responding with care to specific situations.

Thunderpunt · 28/12/2019 22:33

Can I add, and I know it's slightly off topic but I'm so cross! some adults could do with lessons on how to behave in public. Tonight in my restaurant I have had to refuse a 3rd bottle of white wine to a man and his adult son (who was admittedly rather sheepish and embarrassed) due to the swearing, vulgar and loud conversations he chose to have, upsetting customers on nearby tables without a second thought. Whilst I wouldn't tolerate kids running around in my restaurant for safety reasons, I think I'd be happy to have most of the kids mentioned on this thread over and above the complete idiot I had in tonight!

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 22:36

@CherryPavlova so if you have a child with an SEN that means eating out has a high risk rate of becoming a situation for that child .. you should stay away for the benefits of the other diners .. just to be clear, that's what you're saying here..

That disabled children whom will garner some
Benefit from exposure to these situations whether it being learning and development of budding social skills, the world around them or just spending some time with their family in a manner that benefits the non disabled members of that family .. should be kept away to suit the able members of society ..

Just be clear ..

ahenderson270 · 28/12/2019 22:39

@jellycatspyjamas thank you - it has in the past been very hard and unpleasant, however I've developed a thick skin and gained enough knowledge to be secure in the knowledge my disabled child isn't what's wrong in any of these situations.

If only all parents of NT children could try to show as much empathy and understanding as you ❤️

WireBrushAndDettolMaam · 28/12/2019 22:43

Anyone who lets kids run around where food and drink is served is a dickhead and you can safely disregard their opinions on parenting.

Sleepyblueocean · 28/12/2019 22:43

When a child with SN (SEN relates to education so not relevant to families in restaurants) is being noisy they may not be shouting or having a meltdown but are just being who they are. People with severe disabilities may not be able to conform to social norms. They are pretty much meaningless to my son but he still has a right to be out.

jellycatspyjamas · 28/12/2019 22:44

you should stay away for the benefits of the other diners

That’s not how I read that at all, I took it as saying that if the situation was so distressing for the child that they weren’t able to cope it wasn’t the best place for them for their sake. I’m sure @CherryPavlova will clarify but there are situations which I don’t put my children in precisely because it’ll be too difficult for them and it’s not fair to put them in that place.

hazeyjane · 28/12/2019 22:45

Today we went to a place my ds loves for lunch - it has food he likes, he has been there before, he wanted to go.....however he still struggled to get out of the house, he hates transitions and having to put shoes on to go out to the car caused a meltdown. In the car he got upset by 'chatting', his sister laughing and how long it took to get to the restaurant. At the restaurant we had to wait for the table, this also started to upset him so dh took him outside, he refused to put his coat on...but not a battle worth having. The rest of the meal was a mix of waiting (not good)....eating (good) needing toilet (not good)....wanting to go (not good as everyone else still eating)....iPad (good!)....running out of restaurant (not good). Overall we'd class it as a win - a messy win....but a win!! There are lots of things that ds loves, but struggles, going out, Christmas, friends, going to people's houses, people coming round, sitting at the table, going to the cinema, eating out....pretty much everything to be honest. That is the nature of his complex needs, he needs our support to do everything, and.... hopefully, the understanding of those around him when he struggles. What should we do...never 'put him in that position'?

PhilomenaChristmasPie · 28/12/2019 22:46

CherryPavlova DS2 wants to go to the Spaghetti House. He looks forward to it. He gets his own menu, 3 courses and loads of attention from the staff. Quite often, some of our friends bring their DC too. It's a night out for him. But he'll get bored waiting for food to arrive, and isn't really interested in very academic elderly people talking about Tolkien.

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