When Bad/Screaming Children in Restaurants Make Others - Well, Scream!
If you are the ones bothered by screaming children in restaurants, your friends who are like you feel your pain.
Just imagine that you are going to some sort of fine dining establishment for a night out. You leave your cell phone in your purse and set it on vibrate. You are dressed according to dress code - suits for the men, party dresses for the women.
Inside, the restaurant looks like a lavishly decorated salon at a palace. A harpist at one corner plays classical music. Antique gold gilds every nook and cranny. Soft lighting by electric chandeliers and candelabras (or votives) illuminate the venue. All the waiters are in tuxedos, serving the finest dishes and desserts that make many a gourmand squeal with pleasure.
As you eat your escargot in garlic butter, you hear and see a child under 7 near your table screaming her lungs out. She is dressed in a party dress with puffy sleeves and zipper back. But its beauty isn't enough to soften her red, screaming face.
You call the waiter and convince him to remove the bothersome family so you can eat in peace. You know right away that it's one of the "no screaming children" restaurants, let alone one that isn't intended for them. But you just wonder why that family could bring that little screaming demon in the first place.
Screaming Children in Restaurants are Problemsome!
Let's face it - with the exception of those that allow people of a certain age and over (discussed later), restaurants even serve screaming kids.
But it's not just the screaming that rattles other patrons' moments of peace. They tap-dance on antique, centuries-old floors custodians try hard to maintain. They grab others' food because they either were served food they don't like (usually ordered by the parent) or because the dishes seem so appetizing to them. They run around with reckless abandon, posing a hazard to waiters.
What Restaurants Face the Most Problems With Screamers?
Usually, the chain restaurants get the biggest volume of noisiness and disturbance when it comes to misbehaving kids. They typically grab the attention of many families wanting a meal together outside their homes.
Worst of all, their peak times tend to be the times when kids are off school, the weekends, and Fridays. Just dine at a meal at peak times at any said day and you'll likely need to try your best to ignore screaming banshees.
Even the most expensive restaurants with gourmet cuisine can get a ruined atmosphere with ill-mannered youth. So why do patrons spend their money on the finest wine that complements their more than three-course meal that is tainted with baby food? Well, they feel that those who bring their children under 10 are just too lazy to hire a babysitter or have a relative watch over them.
What Makes Screaming Children in Restaurants - Well, Scream?
Children pitch fits for many reasons:
- They are hungry beyond control.
- They are tired and forced to eat past their usual bedtime or right on nap time. (That's especially degrading to autistic children, who rely on routine and can't stand transitions.)
- They have still-developing attention spans - and waiting at some fine-dining restaurant where you know they serve only a seven-course meal is painful for them.
- Restaurants are overstimulative and crowded - chain restaurants are noisy and crowded, but even if they are quieter, fancy restaurants are just as overwhelming. (It's also especially bad for unprepared autistic children.)
- Worst of all, temper tantrums are part of their lives thanks to them finding ways to communicate. Enough is said.
Why Are Patrons (and Owners) Bothered?
Well, restaurant patrons come in all different forms from all walks in life. But they have something in common: a right to dine in peace. Some of them hate children, and they are married or single with no kids and they feel that all dining establishments are no kiddie places.
Another set of them are couples looking for a peaceful dinner out and expect little to no (well, preferably no) screaming children. Others are just families with behaving children who want just quiet meals to enjoy themselves.
Owners and employees are also bothered by bad children in their restaurants. Take elusive, bolting, and/or eloping children, for example. When they run around in aisles between tables, they can trip waiters carrying foods of varying temperatures. (It's even worse if they are carrying glassware of real glass and/or carrying some hot drinks like coffee.)
The din of shrieking youngsters makes it hard for them to take orders by blocking out what they are asking their patrons.
"I HATE SPINACH!" - D.W.
'Screaming Children are Not Allowed - Period.'
How do restaurants both casual and upscale curtail loudly crying children? One way is to post signs on doors or somewhere visible where patrons with children can see it.
In a Chicago cafe, a smart owner posted one decorated with green and purple handprints that said that they "have to behave and use their indoor voices" regardless of age. A North Carolina restaurant displays another that said, "Screaming children will NOT be tolerated!"
But signs like these make some parents angry. They feel that the owners are discriminating against them and their children, especially if their traits of autism in several of them disable them from behaving properly without prior preparation. But the move is not a human-rights violation - it's a method of maintaining peace and order.
'You Have to Be at Least (Insert Age Here) to Eat Here'
One of the most extreme but effective measures to curb rowdy kids is to set and enforce age restrictions. Although it may seem discriminatory to some parents (After all, even "big kids" can scream and misbehave, especially if they have autism.), it's a boon for singles, married couples with kids who leave them with babysitters, and couples with no intention of having children.
This method of creating peaceful atmospheres is especially effective in fine dining restaurants.
A good example of this is Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa at the Walt Disney World Resort. For a couple of years, they restricted their patrons' ages to 10 and over. Another example is the Italian restaurant Palo on the Disney Cruise Line vessels, which bars those under 18.
Even casual eateries impose age restrictions too. The Sushi Bar at Alexandria, VA, only allows patrons 18 and up. McDains, a golf course restaurant in Monroeville, PA, only allows patrons 6 and older.
- Can Age Restrictions Really Help Curtail Screaming Children at Restaurants?
To deal with screaming children, restaurants put up age restrictions. But do they really help cope with the problem?
I Can't Believe the Restaurant for Over-10s is AT DISNEY!
The 'No Children' Section
Like age restrictions and the "children must behave in our restaurant" signs, child-free sections irk some parents because they segregate them with their kids from adults. But adult patrons who want a peaceful meal with no half-eaten mushy carrots garnishing their grilled salmon would benefit it. In fact, some of them even petition for separate seating.
But what if one section gets too crowded? Well, that poses a problem, especially at peak times.
Where's Your Table Manners?
The biggest reason why children bother fellow patrons by their misbehavior is because they lack mealtime etiquette. Sadly, the sights of masticated macaroni and cheese in their little mouths and messy clothing just annoy us. How many of you as parents ask yours to eat with their mouths closed? How many of you remind them that napkins of any kind go on their laps unfolded?
You really don't have to shell out lots of money to enroll them in a finishing/charm school. Just start table manners as soon as possible! Start your table manners at home - play restaurant or practice skills to be courteous every mealtime.
Have autistic children in tow? Don't just show pictures of the restaurant you are itching to take them to prepare them. Ask their instructor or therapist to fashion a social story on table manners! (Don't forget to have them make one on restaurant behavior!) Make sure you share them often!
Distract Them While They Wait
Because of their still-developing attention spans, children get antsy at a restaurant. Being bored that way can cause them to scream and pitch temper tantrums. To curb boredom, distract them with items such as crayons and coloring books, small and quiet toys, and handheld video games. You may want to pack some earplugs or earphones for children bothered by too much noise.
Don't let your children come to the restaurant hungry - offer them a slightly filling snack (preferably with fiber and protein) to tide them over.
Good for the Dad! Take the Screaming Meanie Out!
If Typhoon Tantrum's About to Hit...
If your child starts to throw a Category 5 temper tantrum, stay calm. Do not scold him in front of other patrons - just take him outside (or a bathroom if it's rainy) to cool himself off. If all attempts to calm him fail, ask the waiter for a doggy bag for your meal. Then, just leave the restaurant. Nobody wants to hear a screaming kid in an otherwise serene dining establishment, especially an upscale eatery!
Hire A Babysitter
Especially if you expect a restaurant to serve the finest dishes that scream "fancy restaurant" in your face, please leave your children with a babysitter. A cheaper alternative is to have an older relative watch them so you can enjoy your fillet mignon in peace. A restaurant with all classical music and rococo décor throughout is no place for small children, anyway.
When it comes to dining out, the only types of kids most dining patrons like me hate are screaming children in restaurants. They are not prudes who want them to attend etiquette school with a curriculum that reminds them of the Victorian Era. They want not only peace and quiet in their meals, but also good behavior from others.
Good manners are important, but great dining manners from children make an enjoyable meal.
How Do You Feel About Screaming Kids in A Restaurant?
Links on Kids and Dining Out!
- What to Teach Your Kids Before They Can Go Out To Eat
Every parent itching for a meal at a restaurant with kiddos in tow must read this Hub! It features some basics on the so-called "table manners!"
© 2010 talfonso