We're at a restaurant. It's not a "kid friendly" place but it's also not a "kid unfriendly" place. When it's just my wife and I with our son he behaves with some manners and lasts as long as you can expect a two year old to last before getting antsy. However, when at the same restaurant with friends who allow their child down upon first request, our son immediately gets down from his chair and starts playing. They get pretty rowdy causing others to stare our way.

We'd like to hold our son to the same standards as when our friends aren't present but I'm not exactly sure how without seeming like a jerk.

asked 17 Aug '10, 02:29

GollyJer's gravatar image

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Good question, I don't think I know an easy answer. I asked a slightly related question here which might interest you: http://moms4mom.com/questions/4221/handling-childrens-friends-parents

(17 Aug '10, 07:12) Benjol

+1 Yes I agree, great question!

(17 Aug '10, 08:43) Emi

I'd handle this one of two ways.

1) I would not let my kids get down and would hold them to exactly the same standards as if the friends were not there. I wouldn't normally make any reference to the other children's behaviour. Ultimately it is up to my friends how they raise their children. I have been in situations where I have held my kids to a "higher" standard than other parents in the vicinity. It does sometimes make me feel really sorry for them though, which can make it tough to enforce this for long.

2) I would allow my kids to get down and be more relaxed about their behaviour but I would call them back to the table if they started to get too loud and remind them to be less loud. (I realise that asking a two year old to remember to be quiet while playing often seems like a pointless endeavour, but I have found that the interruption can calm down the playing enough.)

Your last option (which isn't one I would go for) is to let the other people stare. If your kids are not in any danger, and not doing any harm other than being rowdy then let them get on with it. If the restaurant feel that your kids are too loud then let the staff come and tell you. Presumably then your friends will do something about their child as well.


answered 17 Aug '10, 12:19

pipthegeek's gravatar image

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edited 17 Aug '10, 13:59

Rich%20Seller's gravatar image

Rich Seller

+Good Answer, I think I've waiver between 1 and 2 as well depending on the circumstances. Maybe remind her that if she couldn't play quietly she will have to come and sit at the table and offer her a quiet activity like a colouring book. Restaurants can get quite boring for young chilldren.

(17 Aug '10, 12:42) Tammy ♦♦

Thanks for the answer pipthegeek. We've been going with "your last option", which seems to work fine. People stare but almost all understand and accept the situation. However, after talking more with my wife we agreed it was sending mixed signals to our son; hence the question. Thanks again.

(17 Aug '10, 23:56) GollyJer

We go with option #1 and deal with the difference privately at home by telling them something like "Every parent has different rules. These are the ones we have chosen." But they're much older than 2.

(18 Aug '10, 14:15) bbrown

I always went with option #1, and yeah it can make you feel like kinda an ogre. Once when my oldest was about 4 we were out with a very good friend and she had let her 3 year old son get down to play. My boys wanted to too, and I said "What are the rules in restaurants?" My oldest answered "We stay at the table, play quietly, and talk nicely to the people we're with," then looked straight at my friend and said "Because we're not being raised by wolves!". Fortunately she IS a very, very good friend, with a great sense of humour, and she just laughed so hard she cried!

(22 Aug '10, 06:00) Neen

@neen - All I can say is lol!

(22 Aug '10, 19:47) pipthegeek

I have a small bag of toys for exactly this type of situation. I figure he gets antsy because he is bored. I bring the bag of toys to restaurants and when we are visiting friends who don't have young children. The bag contains about a dozen mega blocks, two Dr. Seuss board books, an electronic books with lights and sounds, and a puppet.

When he starts to get antsy, I get out one of the toys. Most of the time, the toys will buy me a few more minutes of peaceful toddler time.

I have also installed a few toddler apps on my iPhone. So, when the toys can't keep his attention, I show him one of the iPhone apps or let him scroll through the photos I have on my phone.


answered 18 Aug '10, 01:27

cat_g's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%


+1 Totally agree that these iphones/android phones do help to keep them amused...

(18 Aug '10, 15:03) Emi

Except the phone is meant to be keeping ME amused. What is my wife going to do to stop me getting antsy if the kids have got my phone?!

We do try and get the kids to take a toy or two with them if we know we are going to be somewhere where they will get bored. Letting them choose their own can be dangerous though. :)

(19 Aug '10, 11:53) pipthegeek

We would avoid sending out mixed messages from the beginning because together with my husband we totally believed and still do, that mixed messages can be incredibly confusing for children and even more so as their social skills slowly begin to develop.

Our daughter did err on the side of being well behaved and we made sure she knew that we were very happy about that. Weird it may seem,but positive reinforcement after an outing where she was well behaved always made her smile.

So if she began to misbehave in a way that was not normal for her or she was directly being influenced by the other children, we would either go to her or call her and ask her quietly what she was doing, this was generally enough to make realize that her behavior was not quite right.

I am really not too sure if this works better with girls or not, but this is how is worked for us. We still do this now even though she is 6 years old. Sitting in a cafe with a friend and her daughter is fun, but when the friend s daughter starts misbehaving/being rude or cheeky and starts to egg my daughter on, I call her and speak in a quite voice asking her what she is doing and why she is behaving in such a way...with us a gentle reminder normally works and helps maintain a level of "good behavior" that we think is reasonable and acceptable, but without trying to be what we would consider pushy, demanding or authoritative parents.

Hope this helps a little!


answered 18 Aug '10, 13:49

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accept rate: 19%

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Asked: 17 Aug '10, 02:29

Seen: 2,957 times

Last updated: 18 Aug '10, 13:49