Can You Bring Kids to Restaurants?

Find out which restaurants are appropriate for kids and what to do when faced with a tantrum. Modern Manners Guy is on the case

Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #133

What to Do When Kids at Restaurants Bother You

To prove I am not completely biased as a parent, let’s focus on what to do if you are not the one bringing the child to a restaurant, but rather the one having to sit next to a screaming kid while trying to enjoy a nice meal.

When you see a child cry, scream, or throw a tantrum so intense you immediately want to run out to buy condoms, the proper way to handle this is to first realize it’s a part of life. It’s very loud and annoying, but still very common. The parents do not want their kids to act this way and the kids themselves would probably rather not be there. However, unlike you, they can’t control their emotions.

When dealing with an unruly child in public, the most proper way to handle it is to — drum roll, please… not say anything at all.

"But Modern Manners Guy, they are disturbing my meal! I paid to be here too!"

I know. You bring up a good point, but you cannot reason with a child. It’s not your place. And dealing with an adult who is probably stressed out because they know everyone is staring will never work out either. Chances are you will be the one everyone is staring at when the frazzled parent shouts right back at you.

This rule does have a caveat though: if a child comes in contact with you -- by way of food or hands -- you are then allowed to approach the parent. Doing so with manners and etiquette is key. You don’t want to pull out your best Bobby Knight impression and toss their chair across the room. Give them a simple nod, and they will get it. 

However, if suppressing your desire to scream to the high heavens after seeing a child act so incredibly inappropriately at a restaurant is too much to ask, there is another option -- simply move your seat. Don’t feel bad about it. Managers are used to that request and see it all the time. You can even hide your reasoning for moving if you like. Blame it on being “too cold,” “too close to the door,” “under the vent” -- pick your poison. Who knows, you might even start a revolution and lead a pack of people into the promised land of peace and quiet.

Do you have a story about your children or dealing with children in restaurants? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all have a good laugh with you. As always if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line any time at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Also, follow me on Twitter with daily updated on manners @MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.

Thanks again for reading Modern Manners Guy’s quick and dirty tips for a more polite life.

Kids in restaurant and tantrum images courtesy of Shutterstock.