Yes, you’d better believe it’s your business when someone else’s kids are disruptive at a restaurant, ruining your dining experience. And I’m not talking about a squawking baby in a high chair, either. I’m talking about something like the experience that Christie Barnes went through. With Barnes were her four kids: a 10-year-old and triplets age 7.
Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide, told me, “Four children, aged 6-10, were sitting at a table on their own in a restaurant. They were screaming. They threw food. They played hide and seek behind strangers eating in the restaurant.” These disruptive kids were not at this restaurant on their own; the parents were there, as it turns out.
Barnes continues, “They held the restaurant door shut so patrons couldn’t get in. My children, who were behaving, were extremely upset. I looked around the restaurant for the parents but the parents were pretending not to notice them — it took me ages to figure out who the parents were — it turned out to be two sets of moms and dads and one set of grandparents. They allowed those children to ruin the meals of everyone in the restaurant.”
Barnes further explained that restaurant patrons, including herself, spoke to and even scolded these disruptive children, but were ignored. The parents witnessed this and ignored it. She requested to see the manager but was told he wasn’t there, and restaurant staff did nothing.
Next time this happens to you, try one of the following tactics if the parents won’t reveal themselves (but if you know whom they are, tactics for that follow):
Stand at the center of the restaurant and loudly announce, “Excuse me, but to the parents whose kids are being disruptive, you have 15 seconds to control them. If you don’t, I will spank them. And I’m not afraid if you call the cops on me because there are 20 witnesses to the fact that you’ve been allowing your kids to disrupt this restaurant for the past 20 minutes, and they will gladly vouch for me. The countdown begins NOW.”
Stand in the center of the restaurant and announce loudly: “Excuse me, folks, but one of the kids over there just fell and broke her ankle; it’s huge.”
Approach one of the kids and say with a delightful voice, “My oh my, did you know that your mother is very beautiful?” Wait for response, then say, “Can I take her picture?” The child might lead you to her.
Approach the oldest child and say, “Excuse me, but your mother accidentally cut herself and wants you to help her.”
Approach the youngest child and say, “Excuse me, but your mother told me to get you; she has a surprise for you.”
When you know whom the parents are, pull up a chair and join them. Start giving lectures on teaching kids manners. Change the subject to religion, politics or your grandmother’s bloody hemorrhoids or the time your brother’s leg was ripped open in a motorcycle accident and the insides looked like spaghetti (or whatever it is that the parents are eating). Tell them you won’t leave their table until they make their kids sit quietly.
Approach the parents and discreetly say, “If you don’t control your kid(s) this instant, I will tell her that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, and don’t think I’m bluffing.” (I know this sounds cruel, but chances are high that the parent will comply.)
If a child keeps bothering you, “accidentally” spill your glass of icy water all over his head.
Approach the parents (remain standing) and very loudly scold them for permitting their kids to behave like savages. If they protest, refer to this article for ways to respond back. However, they might not protest if you’re vigilant and authoritative, and instead will shrink with embarrassment, since you just called everyone’s attention to their table.
If you have additional ideas on how to stop someone else’s kids from being disruptive at a restaurant, post them in the “comments” box below. If you don’t have the brazenness to pull any of the tactics mentioned here, then speak privately to the manager (if he/she is there).
But if you’re more assertive, say in a sweet voice to the restaurant manager, “You have 30 seconds to speak to the parents in a way that will make them stop their kids from being disruptive. If you don’t, I will report this to the owner, but not before I announce out loud that there’s a fly in my soup.”
Disruptive kids at restaurants should never be tolerated. You have every right to take efforts to stop children from disrupting your meal.