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Good Behavior and Manners in a Public Setting - When Should Kids Learn?

Updated on October 21, 2016

Unruly Kids in Public

How many times have you gone out to eat, and the people in the next booth or table have kids, who are throwing food, crying, running up and down the aisles, and generally being loud and disruptive to your meal?

This happens not only in eating establishments, but in stores, laundromats, and other public places. How annoying is it to try to buy groceries, and have three or four little kids running as if the store was a playground, while the mom is talking to a friend, or on the phone, or just walking off not even aware of their whereabouts.

I was at a restaurant the other day, buying my son a birthday dinner, at a place that charged about 12.00 a plate minimum. We had ordered, were having a beer, when a nice little family of four came in, and were seated at the booth next to ours. My back was to the seat where the two kids were sitting, and it was chaos from the beginning.

Right from the start neither child would remain seated. They stood up and faced our table, right behind me and proceeded to throw their napkins and straws, and anything else that was available into my seat and the back of my head. After a couple of minutes of this, I turned around and gave the unruly pair the evil eye. They turned around and sat, for about one minute.

Our food came, and as we began to eat it started all over again. My son said to me, "Mom, how come parents don't make their kids behave in public anymore? That would have never happened with you and us...." We were stared at throughout this part of the meal, and when their food came, I thought that at last we would have some peace.

Not a chance. When their food came they started whining that they didn't like that. I wanted a hamburger, not that, and can we have a milkshake too?, and I just want to have the candy in your purse instead. When no came as their answer, the crying began.

The long and the short of it is that I paid almost $50.00 for our food, and couldn't enjoy it. The parents ignored most of the behavior and noise coming from their brats, and just sat there and ate as if everything was just peachy.

Where To Begin & At What Age

Table manners can and should start when the child is between the ages of two and three years old. This should begin at home, where it won't matter if the kids yell or cry and are unruly at first.

The first table manners that should be instilled are that at the table eating they are to remain sitting, not jumping up as they wish. Also the use of a spoon or fork should begin too, although if they do use their fingers it isn't really too bad at this age. The throwing of food, and loud screaming should not be allowed. It is not hard to get your kids to behave at the table if you make them behave at the dinner table at home every night. Expecting them to sit and quietly eat and enjoy the family meal is a good place to start as far as quality family time is concerned.

It should be stated here though, that meals should not be long and lingering affairs, where the children get bored. Once their food is eaten, everyone should be ready to wipe faces and move on to the next thing. Two and three year old have short attention spans and expecting them to sit for more than 15 or 20 minutes with a meal is too much. Ideally, 10 to 15 minutes is about as long as they can control a table setting.

Manners at a store shopping may be difficult for young one, but if they are put in the seat of your cart where you can see what they are doing, you do not have to worry about running after them in a grocery store setting. They should be taught that it is mom who is putting food items into the cart, and they may ask, but not be allowed to grab wanted items from shelves.

Places like the laundry should be avoided if possible for here we are talking about long periods of time that a toddler will have difficulty using manners . If possible perhaps a babysitter would be preferable, but older kids, say 4 to 7 or 8 years old are old enough to know better than to run and play tag, climbing up on the folding tables, and so on. If this sort of behavior is allowed at this age and in this setting, the child will then carry on the same behaviors becoming a mouthy and rude preteen and adolescent. The younger they learn the social graces the easier it will be to have well mannered teenagers later on.


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    Anouser 6 years ago