You know the situation. You’ve probably witnessed it before or you’ve probably been the parent of a child throwing a tantrum at a restaurant.
I recently read yet another story about a restaurant banning screaming children. This time, the story on Global News featured the Facebook post from The Lobster Pound and Moore.
The restaurant issued an apology on social media after complaints were made about their post.
Kicking and screaming, body thrashing on the floor, and ear-piercing cries do not make for a pleasant experience when you’re trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant. Right?
Should screaming kids be banned from restaurants?
Let’s face it. Tantrums happen.
When Little One was a baby, we took her everywhere with us. She went to concerts, theatre, high end restaurants…and was great! I knew that if I took care of two important needs that we’d have a smooth experience in public. Those two needs were: sleep and hunger.
Little One is still a cranky kid if she doesn’t get enough sleep. If she’s
hungry HANGRY, watch out! It can get pretty scary! I knew that if both of those needs were met before heading out to a public venue, then things would be fine. That works most of the time.
As parents, we can predict the behaviour of the little people we know best, but sometimes things can go awry. Like a Girl Guide, we should always be prepared.
However, sometimes certain factors are beyond our control.
That’s when action needs to be taken…by the parents.
I’m probably going to upset people when I say this…
If your kid is screaming and disrupting the experience of others who have paid for a service (like a dinner or a play), then please remove yourselves from the situation by exiting the venue.
As a parent, I understand that tantrums happen
I’m a parent. Believe me, I know what it’s like to deal with tantrums. I can sympathize (and empathize). Sometimes no matter what you do, there’s no consoling or calming a kid down when they’re in the throes of a meltdown.
I’m also a paying customer and when I’m at a restaurant, I want to enjoy a peaceful meal. I don’t get to frequent restaurants like I used to, so when I do have the occasion to dine at a restaurant of my choice, I want it to be an enjoyable experience.
True, people should be understanding that being a parent can have challenges like having a child have a meltdown in a restaurant. These things happen. This said, parents should also take into consideration other patrons of a restaurant. If you cannot get your child to settle, then remove yourselves from the restaurant until your child eventually settles.
I’ve had to remove my child from a party at a restaurant before. Little One is generally a really well-behaved child and understands social etiquette. This said, she hasn’t been without her occasional moments. In removing my daughter from a restaurant once when she was younger, I wasn’t being a mean mom. I was being a courteous mom. If your child is screaming and crying and not settling, then allowing the tantrum to continue benefits no one. It results in everyone being miserable.
If my child acts up, I remind her of the rules and remind her that other people are trying to enjoy a meal. If that doesn’t work (because sometimes if a kid is in the midst of a tantrum, they’re not listening or processing what you’re saying), it’s time to leave the restaurant.
More than meets the eye
There are so many factors that come into play when people think kids “act up” or “misbehave”. In some cases, it’s not even a question of whether you prepare your child for the restaurant dining experience and attempt removing them or remind them of social cues and social etiquette. Sometimes a child is not in a place to even care about other people and their dining experiences.
What about if you have a child with special needs? There will be times when a child with special needs will not be able to sit still or sit quietly during a meal. Would a restaurant tell the parents they are not welcomed to dine at their establishment? That would be deemed as discrimination.
I’ve actually been at a restaurant when a family was dining with their son who was special needs. There was a man who complained to the restaurant staff that he had lost his appetite and was very disgusted by the boy’s carrying on and “drooling”. I witnessed the entire thing and was so upset by the man’s actions and words that I wanted to get up and leave the restaurant. Thankfully, the owner of the restaurant did something I was not expecting. He went to the family and apologized audibly enough for everyone to hear and said he hoped that the family was enjoying their dinner. It was interesting to see how the owner addressed rudeness and lack of tolerance.
To ban or not to ban?
While I don’t think banning is the right thing to do, I do believe the onus should be on the parents to not let the situation escalate to the point where their children are screaming, kicking and throwing things. Children are people too and they deserve to have the opportunity to enjoy and dining experience at a nice restaurant.
Banning all small children is not the answer, because for many families, their kids (for the most part) behave respectfully at restaurants. I do think that if a situation escalates to tantrum throwing stage, then parents should take their little ones out of the restaurant until the child settles or just call it a day and head home.
Curious to hear what your thoughts are. Should screaming kids be banned from restaurants?