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AIBU expect kids to behave in cafes/restaurants?

(38 Posts)
Natalie Thu 19-May-11 14:06:19

Why do so many young mums in this country think it's OK to let their kids scream, race around, or throw objects (sometimes all of these) in cafes and restaurants? - in effect treating the place like a play area or an extension of their own living room, regardless of other people?
In one of our local "chain" coffee places, mums either don't seem to notice or care that their children are using the floor as a slide, and taking up handfuls of gravel from the planters and throwing it around the place, regardless of the potential for other people tripping, falling, or spilling hot drinks.
[As in the earlier debate here about teaching proper use of cutlery], no child above toddler age is too young to learn consideration for other human beings.
It's interesting that children in France and Italy, and Asian children in the UK, behave beautifully while eating out with their families.

mollie Thu 19-May-11 15:04:25

I fully agree is noticeable over here. I've walked out of restaurants before ordering for just this reason! It's really selfish of the parents not to regard other people around them... I watched a little boy put stones into several water features and try to pull the wiring out in the outdoor section of a local garden centre while mum and friend sat drinking coffee ... I mentioned this to a member of staff who brought the boy back to his mum and got an earful for her efforts...angry

GoldenGran Thu 19-May-11 15:08:12

I think it is because children in France and Italy are treated as part of the family, not as the most important part. Where as in this country we are living in an over child-focussed world. You only have to watch some Mothers with there gigantic chariots, pushing their way through people as though they and their little princes or princesses are the only ones that count. I have just re-read this- I am a very benign reasonable Granny who adores her Grandchildren, not a grumpy old grouch, but some things do bug me!

Pandemonia Thu 19-May-11 15:13:29

Have you considered that the good behaviour observed in France and Italy may stem from the fact that children are actually welcomed in cafes and restaurants? Only while I agree that nobody likes to dine in the company of horrendously behaved children, the arrival of any small children in some cafes brings on an instant outbreak of Cat's Bottom Imitation Syndrome. In Italy, in particular, the staff will make a fuss of children and the parents are invariably relaxed and not constantly delivering a fusillade of instructions to their children.

maxgran Thu 19-May-11 16:48:43

I doubt children are better behaved in Italy because staff make a fuss of them ?!
If they are well behaved its because they know its expected of them and they have been taught to be that way by their parents.
The parents talked about on this thread are obviously NOT delivering any intructions to their kids.

HildaW Thu 19-May-11 17:22:38

MaxGran.....agree there..its those parents who sit their chattering to each other and let the children just get on with what ever they like. We can all sympathise and turn a deaf ear when a child is being a pain despite Mum or Dad's best efforts. Its the type who dont try or even think their little darling is being so very very creative with their food that gets me all 'Cats bottomish'.....and I hope I never see that phrase in print again!

supernana Thu 19-May-11 17:33:39

HildaW...yes, when parents do their best to control an unruly child to no avail, I do sympathise as it can be embarrassing for them - but I can get very cross with the few who sit back, smile, enjoy their meal and have no consideration for those who find the antics of their own little darlin' downright annoying.

Sephrenia Thu 19-May-11 20:29:04

I've lost count of the times that I've walked out of a cafe or restaurant when my children couldn't behave. I simply wouldn't inflict my child's bad behaviour on anyone so when I see parents letting their precious little darlings run around without even thinking of stopping them, it makes me look like I've just sucked a bag of lemons.

I shouldn't judge I know, but I do anyway. How hard is it to tell your children to behave themselves or tell them off if they don't?

<wonders if there should be an emoticon for 'that' face>

HildaW Thu 19-May-11 20:36:13

Oh yes Sephrenia........................that could prove jolly useful!

milliej Thu 19-May-11 20:45:14

my friend and I were sitting in a cafe enjoying a chat and cup of tea on Monday when two young women came in with two kiddies. The noise, screaming, chucking things on the floor, we could hardly hear ourselves. I heard a "shhh don't be so noisy" once or twice....but really....some parents (mothers!) just don't seem to have any control over their children. Why do they shout and scream so?
Did it do us any harm being 'seen and not heard'?

maxgran Fri 20-May-11 09:35:32

I used to shout at my children when they were little but have learned since i had grandchildren that shouting is just not necessary. It all gets frantic and they don't/can't listen to what you say.
I always lower my voice and make sure I have their attention. There is no point in yelling whilst they are running around oblivious.
I watch my daughter screeching at her children and wonder why she keeps doing it when it has no effect other than to make her more frantic.

Grandmacool Fri 20-May-11 11:26:40

My granddaughter is very well behaved while out for a meal and she always was. We take her out a lot and no matter where we go she is praised at being such a good girl. A week or so ago the waiter dropped 1Euro on the floor of the restaurant, my DGD found it and gave it to him, so he told her to keep it for being so honest.... I thought that was really nice of him and she was delighted.

BTW, she will be 9yo next month.

supernana Fri 20-May-11 12:17:33've every right to be proud of your granddaughter. Over the course of twenty plus years I've dined on many occasions in restaurants together with my grandchildren. I can recall one occasion when as five and six year olds, two of them behaved in a restless manner [service was very slow]. The childrens' parents took them outside for a few moments, had a quiet but firm word with them and there was no problem thereafter. During an evening anniversary meal, three children out with their parents in a smart restaurant, played at hide and seek under and around our table. The parents seemed not to notice...and it was that couldn't-care-less attitude that made me see-red-livid! angry

grannyactivist Fri 20-May-11 13:28:49

When I was teaching 10 year olds we did a class survey and only 3 out of 31 children regularly ate dinner sitting at a table with their parents. (One of them was my son.) Most ate from their lap whilst watching TV, few had home cooked food and most ate at different times from their parents. In my experience the socialisation of children in the UK is mostly left to the TV.

maxgran Fri 20-May-11 14:31:55

grannyactivist - Thats sad isn't it ?
My daughters lets her children have a picnic blanket on the floor in living room whilst they eat their meal and watch TV ! I think they only sit at the table of a Sunday. She also lets them run around with beakers/drinks in their hand.
WHen they come to my house i make them sit at the table - absolutely no television on when eating meals.
I also insist they sit down to have a drink

Pandemonia Fri 20-May-11 18:19:29

"I doubt children are better behaved in Italy because staff make a fuss of them ?!"

I think I said rather more than this single sentence! But my point was that in those countries which seem to love, rather than shout at, children, the children pick up the vibe. I have no doubt that table manners are taught early on in France and Italy but I also know that since eating out is a routine part of daily life, the behavioural expectations tend to get soaked up from tiny babyhood. In the UK, apart from Macdonalds and other fast-food abominations outlets, children have far fewer opportunities to eat out with adults and it's a deal harder to get them used to it if you wait until they are school age or upwards.

Leticia Sat 21-May-11 08:10:21

Have you considered that the good behaviour observed in France and Italy may stem from the fact that children are actually welcomed in cafes and restaurants?

I think this is because they behave appropriately.Also waiters can make a fuss of them-imagine the fuss in this country if a waiter picked them up, or even touched them!
Eating out with children requires effort, the adults can't just chat and ignore them or talk on mobiles. They need to include the child in the conversation.
People can't have it both ways, if they want people to be child friendly they have to allow them to interact with the child.In this country it tends to 'my child, my rules,' you have to look indulgently on, putting up with all sorts of bad behaviour, without saying a word!
There would be hell to pay if I picked up one of these roaming, noisy toddlers and amused them!

helshea Sat 21-May-11 08:23:03

I love the cats bottom! (well not literally of course) lol

Elegran Sat 21-May-11 11:25:17

Children eating while running around is not a new phenomenon.

Thirtyfive years ago I ran a playgroup for 3 to 5 year-olds. This was not in a rough area, the children were all from middle-class homes.

One of our rituals was all taking our elevenses together. We would put several small tables in a row, with little chairs around, and the children would open their packets of snacks (from home, so they all had something they liked) and drink their milk.

It was clearly a new experience for many to be sitting down together to eat. Some thought they could go away and play and expect to find their food where they left it half an hour later. Some wanted to take it to eat while on a slide, some wanted to use their food as finger paint.

With a bit of patience, and the example of the others, everyone eventually developed reasonable habits, but this was really a job for parents, not for us to do. Now that watching TV, and eating snacks rather than a solid meal, are the norm, basic good table manners are a lost cause.

We don't ask for elaborate cutlery etiquette, just for them to eat neatly and quietly and not spoil other people's enjoyment.

crossstitchgill Sun 22-May-11 14:03:23

When my children were small (they are now 33 and 30), we would stay in small hotels on holiday and friends would ask how we could do that. The children knew that they had to behave at the table and stay there until the meal was finished. My grandson who is now 19th months is taken out to restaurants which provide high-chairs and if he gets fractious, one of the adults will take him on their lap. We watched, in horror, recently, a small boy aged about 3, be allowed to play with a glass vase on a nearby empty table and drop it on the floor, smashing it. The parents said nothing about it to the waitress before they left.!

FlicketyB Sun 22-May-11 17:10:14

This problem is not new. Back in the late 1960s I worked in Knightsbridge and went to a local small restaurant where at lunchtime customers were expected to share tables. A very elegant lady with a child of about four joined my table. When the food came the child started eating meat and two veg with her fingers, spreading her food all over the table and chair, putting her gravied fingers in the bowl of sugar and licking them - and repeating the process. During the whole time the mother said not a word to the child and just ignored her. In the end I felt so revolted by he child's behaviour I had to leave, my meal half eaten.

My general experience is nowadays children behave better in restaurants than they used to. Generally when out with my granddaughter (4) we eat in places like Pizza Express, very popular with families, or the cafes attached to farm shops and, occasionally carveries Children I have seen in all of these venues seem to be well behaved.

What I have noticed a number of times is how little the adults interact
with the children in their group. In Pizza Express recently a family party came in. including small children, the children were put altogether one end of the table and the adult sat the other and were far to busy chatting between themselves to take any notice of the children. I was amazed how well behaved the children were.

raggygranny Mon 23-May-11 20:12:27

With regard to parents simply ignoring the bad behaviour of thier children in public, has anyone noticed the same attitude in some dog owners? Someone I know was recently bitten by a dog tethered outside an eating place and when she complained to the owners she was met with blank stares and 'What do you expect us to do about it?' They did eventually send one of their children (!) to move the dog, but it wasn't moved very far and no apology was forthcoming.

Penman Wed 25-May-11 11:57:15

Let me begin by saying that I am not a very nice man:

Reading through these rather sad commentaries about children's behaviour in public I feel that one important element is missing, an element that was paramount in my family group starting with my own grandfather whom I regarded with awe "Start as you mean to go on!" It was firmness combined with kindness and regard for good behaviour. My own father regarded his grandfather in a similar light.

My four children were obliged to behave themselves in public, even if it meant lining them up before we embarked and telling them what I expected of them.

They knew what to expect if they failed: no pocket money for a week (two weeks if the misdemeanour was severe) even a stinging slap on the thigh. It was often tough going - for me that is. There were times when my dear wife thought I was over-reacting pleading for leniency and there were times when I wanted to swap keeness for laizes-faire for it is hard to see a child having to pay for bad behaviour: but when paid out kindness and love came forth from this not very nice man and extra pocket money for extra tasks like cleaning the car, sweeping the drive, helping Mum in the house.

I was taught by this system: there was no intention of strengthening love or engendering hate and popularity did not matter; it was simply the adult way of teaching the child the right way to do things.

At a family barbeque one grandchild of 23 said to me with his typical broad grin:-

"My dad said that you were a real horror when you were a dad.!"

I remember my reply: "I still am a dad - so just watch it, kid!"

It was a good party as I remember.

To be serious for a moment: Why is it that I hear no masculine voices in this column? What has happened to all the men? All I hear is this continuous female drip about how difficult children can be.

supernana Wed 25-May-11 12:20:56 upbringing mirrors yours. Discipline was learned at home, was observed in the classroom and respected in the wider community. My parents did a stirling job and I bless them for their efforts as I approach my 70th birthday.

HildaW Wed 25-May-11 13:54:53

Dear Penman....I'd be the first to agree that discipline was an excellent aspect of child care. Children need firm, fair boundaries consistently applied. However, having been brought up with a father who instilled nothing but fear in all of his children, I would never ever agree that a parent should make their children fear them. My children learnt to behave by not wishing to gain dissapproval or feel that they had let us down also, perhaps more importantly, by becoming responsible for their own actions and learning self discipline. They did not and do not live in fear of our reactions. They know what is right and what is wrong and are both highly responsible members of society and one is marvellous Mum to a delightful and well behaved 2 year old.