Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Other People's Kids Behave Badly

For Mother’s Day, my family decided to take my mother out for an early dinner.  As you can imagine, we were not the only ones with this idea so the restaurant was packed with people.  At a table nearby were two women with two children.  The kids appeared to be around age two and were running and squealing--really screaming-- as they played around the other tables in our vicinity.  Their squeals of delight were so loud and ear piercing, conversations could not be held at our table, or at any table for that matter.  Not only did this interfere with our celebration, but twice I saw two servers nearly trip over the tots, while carrying large trays of food.  Did I mention the two women at the table, presumably the parent(s) did absolutely nothing?  This went on for a good twenty minutes, before the party finally left.

We’ve all been through child meltdowns in public places, crying babies or two year old fits.  As parents, we sympathize when we see this happen and most of the time the parent in question will resolve the matter or step out from the theater, restaurant, church, etc.

What to do though, when other people’s kids are majorly disrupting those around them in a public place?  Especially if the kids are just playing and not in distress. Do we have the right to complain?  In my Mother’s Day situation, should the staff have asked the women to corral their kids?  Or is it none of our business?

So today we are talking about other people’s kids, a pretty taboo subject.  What is good etiquette in situations like the one mentioned above?  What if we see a child endangering themselves?  For instance, what if we see an older child we know smoking cigarettes at the mall?  Do we tell the parents?  From testy tots to troubled teens, what is the right thing to do?


  1. Sadly, I have to say in the situation you describe encountering on Sunday I believe the only options are to put up with the uncivilized behavior (one of my friends refers to it as "wolf child" behavior), ask for a change of location in the restaurant, or leave. I've never seen anyone be successful asking inattentive parents to calm their children's disruptions.

  2. You may be right....thanks for your comment.