I’m not patient with ill behaved kids, or ill mannered parents.

As a mom who had three kids, and thanks to work and travel often ended up having them in restaurants with us, I’m always aghast at how many children are out in the world behaving badly in them.  I mean, does your child scream down the dinner table at home?  Or, are they allowed to run around the entire house when they’re meant to be sitting down in their chair eating?  I just honestly don’t understand what’s with this new trend of running/screaming children in restaurants.  Back in the day when I was a waitress, and a bartender, I can honestly say that I don’t recall wild young sprinters having a field day in the dining rooms of any of the restaurants I worked in.  Truthfully, I don’t recall a single incident.  Crying kids?  Well, we’ve all witnessed some of these, maybe even had a few tantrums performed by our own kids while dining out.

I’m sad to say that in my experience the wild child dining syndrome seems to be happening more and more.  So what should we, other paying patrons, and the establishments do about it?  Well for one, I think any and all restaurants that aren’t equipped with a jungle gym in the middle of them should have a sign posted outside the door letting parents know that if their child is caught running in the restaurant they will be asked to leave.  I mean they have signs that say you must be wearing tops, and shoes, and that dogs aren’t allowed in, so what’s the harm in posting a NO RUNNING INSIDE sign?

To me I see nothing wrong with this tact.  I mean you don’t need to be a rocket science to know that a dining room filled with people and waitstaff is a very unsafe place for a small child to be running around in.  The servers often carrying plates of hot food, where the plates themselves can be at high temperatures.  At any given time they can have hot beverages, and glassware, and if either of these make contact with the head of your small wild kid, it would be worse for the child than the drinks, or glasses.  I mean it is simple common sense to not have your children running in a restaurant, so let’s just stop this now, can we?

Yesterday when I was faced with the small boy, who couldn’t have been more than two years old, who was, I might point out also running through the restaurant with his shoelace untied while his mother sat at the table NOT EVEN LOOKING AT HIM, I immediately told him to stop running and to go and sit in his seat.

He ignored me.

Big surprise.

Then within a couple of minutes the mom came along behind him, walking; well she was walking, the boy was still running, right past our table.  When she got right up to my table I looked at her and said:  “If you’re going to allow him to run through the restaurant you might want to make sure his shoe laces are tied up, and give him a fighting chance to be safe.”

She replied; “Yeah I know it is, I’m going to do it up in the bathroom.”

And that was the last I saw of her or the running boy.  He spent the rest of his lunch in his chair where he, all the other diners, and the entire staff were safe from any possible accidents.

To be clear this isn’t about shaming a mom for how she’s choosing to raise a child, this about bringing that mother to consciousness about the very real dangers that face a running child in a crowded busy restaurant.  Because if something bad had come to happen to that little boy, I would have felt more guilt about not saying something to hopefully get the mother to protect him than I would lose sleep worrying about whether or not I offended her by suggesting her son sit down.  And that friends is how I handled this week’s WWYDW!




  1. Firstly, I really like that answer of yours, Shantelle. 😎A satisfying sprinkling of pointed phrasing: “give him a fighting chance to be safe”.
    Secondly, on the subject of what’s with that behaviour these days. I’ve come to decide after reading other parenting articles, and hearing about other instances, that it’s a part-in-parcel thing to the whole “we can’t break their spirit” mindset. Which is true: you shouldn’t break a kid’s spirit. But the problem is it’s taken too far. As if following rules is an attack on their spirit as well.

    I always liken things to the library. If somebody’s a chatty, louder type, is it an attack on their personality to have to be quiet in the library? No. It’s a courtesy. Which how I also see it, is more of an appeal to another side of their personality (assuming they’re also courteous people), and I think that nuance could do wonders with some parents: you’re not breaking your child’s spirit, you’re instructing them on which “self” they need to be right now.

    Though unfortunately, the library doesn’t seem like a great example any more because at least one of our local branches has ear plugs to give out to people who complain about it being too noisy. -_- Yeah….

  2. They would of yelled the loudest if anything had happened to that child when in fact it is their responsibility to ensure their child’s safety and the comfort of other patrons and staff. I have raised 4 children and have nearly 5 grandkids and not one of them would be allowed to do that at home or any public place without knowing consequences. I could take my kids anywhere and know that they would behave. If manners are learnt at home they are put to practised out in public.
    I would not offended by a sign that said no running children allowed and see no problem with it.

  3. I’d also let the parent know I was going on record in support of the restaurant should an accident occur (and you just know if it did that mom or dad would sue the place).

    My children were always kept busy at restaurants when they were small. If there was any crying, we went outside so as not to ruin the experience for everyone else in the place.

    I have also been at very large group events and seen children around the age of 5 wandering around on their own. I actually took two little girls over to their parents and let them know their girls were dangerously close to the road, alone, and “oh my God what if someone grabbed them, there’d be no way for them to help their kids” only to get a nasty look and a dismissive “we were watching them” from the mothers. 1) they were NOT, in fact, watching the girls, they were standing in a circle with their backs to them. And 2) I was actually gravely concerned about their attitude. Now, it sounds like I may have overreacted a bit, but I let the mounted police know what happened because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to these kids. (Just as a frame of reference, this event was one of the largest protests in a very large city. There were thousands of people in attendance, not all of whom were on the same side. The location was at a very busy – trafficwise – intersection with a freeway entrance not 200ft away. In other words, the perfect amount of chaos and the perfect escape route for bad people looking to do bad things. Is this REALLY the time or place to let your children go free range?)

    I wish we could gift common sense to other people. I would be happy to pass it out like after dinner mints.

  4. I’m not yet a parent, so I usually avoid jumping into these discussions but I completely agree with you. A child on the run is a huge workplace safety hazard in addition to a hazard to themselves. I watched a waiter have a near miss a while back and the family seemed completely unaffected and the waiter was left in a state of shock concerned that they could have unintentionally trampled this child or toppled over themselves onto a table. Another time, a toddler at the mall ran right into my friend’s knee and the family threatened to sue my friend! Luckily there were witnesses that came to his defence. At the time, we was only 17. A kid himself.

    All this to say, thanks for sharing this.

  5. You did just the right thing of course. Not really a shaming. She really needed to take charge of her child, for his an everyone else in the restaurant’s sake,

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