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Geez, are you living in our house? I will totally let my kids be kids, and my husband is FOREVER shushing my 5 year old boy. Even in our own house. It drives me crazy! And my hubby has been out of work since January, so the four of us are together pretty much nonstop. And my poor son, who is a very boyish boy-complete with making everything a game, a gun, or some sort of competition that he MUST win or he WILL die, seems to get a lot of guff from my hubby who thinks our life with 2 kids should be quiet and orderly.

Anyhow, as long as my kids are polite, and as long as we're in kid friendly places, I'm okay with a little noise. If I prep my son ahead of time about what is expected, it usually helps. For instance, at the grocery store in an empty aisle I do let him run. He's a kid for Pete's sake- He sees a wide open space and he is sure it was created just for him to play in. BUT, at church we always have to have a talk beforehand that after the service when we're all milling about and the grownups are talking, running around or pulling my hand whining about it being time to go - NOT acceptable. Sneaking three doughnuts while I talk to grownups - perfectly acceptable. Just use a napkin.

Children should be heard and seen. End of story.

Our rule is they can be heard and seen, but not felt. My daughter likes to hug strangers randomly or she will turn around in a restaurant and stroke the next person's head. Unless she is screaming at the top of her lungs, though, we don't shush her.

i think sue says it right... speaking as a childless person.

i don't have children, by circumstance not choice. i love the children who are in my life, and especially love eating meals with them.

one of the best parts of my week is a saturday morning breakfast at a cafe with a newspaper... i work in a high stress job, and that's my ritual for claiming my life back at the weekend. i have to say that my heart sinks when a family comes and sits next to me and the kids start yelling at each other. it's like fingernails down a blackboard. playing is lovely; quiet conversation and laughter is wonderful... yelling, squealing and squabbling is horrendous... especially children saying 'mum, mum, mum...' at an increasing pitch, while mum ignores them to talk to someone else or read her own paper. kids can and should be kids, but they don't always have to be noisy kids - and when they're in confined spaces i think they need to learn how to respect other peoples' space as well.

why should you be the only one who gets to choose which meals are child free? ... you get to choose to have grown up dinners. i quite like grown up breakfasts as well. which doesn't mean not having kids there. it means that i can have a conversation where i can hear myself think... where i can read a newspaper and understand an article at its end.

i'm all for children being seen heard. i'm also all for them only being heard by those within close earshot...

T, I have to agree with you. Kids only get to be kids once and they should enjoy it.

Once when watching a movie, a woman actually turned around and shushed my 4 year old daughter for laughing at something in the movie. She should have expected to see kids watching a movie aimed at children!!

I think you are letting your kids be kids, the way they should be. If they were hurting other people or being extremely disruptive, then that's a different story. So keep doing what you are doing...perhaps Marko should stay home so that he doesn't boss the kids to be quiet. =P

Sorry to say this but the dummies have got to GO. They will cry and moan but will get over it. Think of the dental bills you will be paying for the damages that the dummies will do to their teeth...

I dont have any kids and I think without a doubt its perfectly fine and normal for your children to be able to express themselves! Do you ever notice the people that seem to be annoyed by kids (or anyone) are the same people that talk on their cell phones WAY too loud and not really pay attention to whats around them?

Anyway, Im 25 and I still sometimes call across the store to my mom. :)

Your children are SO cute.

To me, it sounds like you have a good balance. You are letting them be kids, but also aware that they cannot just be out of control.

I like to think that is how I have it too.


Your kids are too young to for anyone to expect them to be quiet when you are out on an exciting adventure! Any trip outside the house is an exciting adventure, BTW. When they are older they will act older, and you will notice things like quieter speech, walking slower and holding actual conversations with other people, etc. Put simply, when they are twelve they will act twelve, but right now they are three and they are acting like normal three year olds. My three kids are sixteen and nineteen so we rarely shop together anymore. I wish I could go back to when they were small and loud and full of fun! Like you, I never allowed them to run riot while we were out and they gradually grew into well behaved kids. After they started school they were a pleasure to take anywhere.

I think there is a difference between talking and loud talking. I think that parents need to work on teaching that difference to their children. In a grocery store, not such a big deal, since if you are annoying someone, they can walk away. In a resturant, they should talk quieter. Why should people who don't have kids with them have to get up and leave because your kids are being loud? I don't have kids, but I have neices and nephews that age, so I know the volume of little boys voices at that age lol. Not saying that they actually will talk quieter, but it should be taught and actively worked on at this age.

It sounds to me like you have struck a good balance. The problem I encounter a lot in public (in the US) are children who are TOTALLY uncivilized - running wild, being loud and sassy - and parents who seem too meek to get their offspring under control. I think maybe it's a PC thing here, very laissez faire parenting style?

I, for one, believe in children being able to enjoy themselves (at home, and in public) WITHOUT being obnoxious.

FWIW, my girls are 4.5, 5 and 7... and we can/do often take them to "adult" restaurants, because we can (usually!) rely on them to behave appropriately. :)

That's a tough one. My two are 2yrs and 4mos old. When we go to a restaurant, we go prepared that if anyone really freaks out, we will get our food to-go and leave. However, normal conversation, accidental spills, etc. are ok in my book. If the restaurant is empty, I will even let the 2yo walk around with me or my husband to blow off steam. Same with stores. If the store is relatively empty, I will let her walk around. If it is full and she can run into people, I will require her to stay in the cart.

My kids are older - 13, 16 & 18. We have always felt that it's not reasonable to expect young children to act like little adults. I didn't permit them to yell and run in a settling like the outdoors restaurant you describe but to play and chatter seems normal to me. We did emphasize "library voices" - for those places and situations where they needed to be quiet. And I agree with you about not taking small children to adult restaurants - not fair to anyone. That said, kids don't learn how to behave in public without being out in public and I don't believe they need to whisper in all circumstances either. It's a balancing act like much of parenting.

I have mixed feelings on that issue. My four children are between the ages of 18 and nine, so we had our share of noise. But both my husband and I are quiet people and don't like to raise our voices. So from the outset, the tone in our house was more to the quiet side. I don't like calling from one part to the other of the house and taught the children from a young age, if you have to say anything to say, come here and say it in a normal voice, don't shout. It's just the way I like it. Besides, it's easier for the children to have basic manners (and the don't shout thing is for me a part of basic manners) before they are confronted with the rest of the world.

I love children and in public places, children's noise does not disturb me. But I differ between normal children noise, the sound of happy or unhappy children, and obnoxious whining or attention seeking noise. I sometimes feel that parents don't set the limits where I would have put them. (I admit I also don't like to see kindergarten age children with bottles, dummies or sippy cups....)

But I'm not judgmental about young mothers, I know how hard it is and that we all need every help we get. so I don't give poisonous looks to an exhausted young mother, this would only aggravate her more and it's not helpful. And we all know how children misbehave when they feel the pressure on their parents. I prefer to smile because such situations happen and who am I to judge?

But in principle, I don't think children have to make unrestricted noise in order to have a happy childhood. I think education and learning how to be a considerate member of society is part of childhood, too. One of my main goals in education is to make my children considerate, empathic and nice people. This is something they have to learn, and I have to teach them. I prefer to teach using love and good example instead of strict disciplinary measures, but I do believe in teaching and setting clear limits. Not disturbing others through unnecessary noise is one of these limits.

I'm sorry for this unpopular minority opinion.

I have to add that I raise my children on an Israeli kibbutz, and you can hardly imagine a more child-friendly and child centered environment. Children move freely here and are respected from young age as individual members of our little community. The atmosphere here is really ideal for children. It's easy to educate children in such a supportive and child friendly community.

Still, I'm sensitive to noise and I'm glad my children are not noisy, too. Most of the time anyway ;-)

Tough one. My children were taught that there are different behaviours appropriate for different places. The two oldest went to adult restaurants quite young because they were quite capable of sitting still and speaking quietly. They also knew VERY early not to interrupt an adult unless it was very important (simply a pet peeve of mine, not comment on anyone else's choice in this - and naturally the definition of "important" changed with age!). The youngest (boy) was much more restless so we didn't impose restaurants on him or him on them.

Voices were generally soft in stores and other public places but how much of that is because I'm a relatively quiet person who would rather not draw attention? Not sure. Running, howling, demanding treats etc were never on but we always had a game going (I spy etc) which was WHY there was not running etc. Sounds to me as though you have a relatively good compromise but as Marko proves it's a compromise that has a different comfort zone for each person!

try and keep your kids quiet in public.

go ahead.

i dare you.

I definately don't think children should be seen and not heard. How else are they going to learn social skills if they aren't allowed to participate in public places? That being said, when they are outside - that's a great time to run around and be loud. If I'm in a store, I try to have my son use his "inside voice" (I hate those words). If other people don't like it, they can bite me :)

I have 20-month-old b/g twins (and another little boy on the way).

It's difficult to come up with a hard-and-fast rule, because every place we take them to is different; I try to be consistent, though, regardless of the ambient noise level, because I'm guessing my kiddos aren't quite as aware of whom they're bothering as I might be. I err on the side of being quieter in restaurants (I mean, just because the place is cheaper, outdoors, etc. doesn't mean someone hasn't been saving up for weeks or months to take their spouse, parent, child, etc. there for a special occasion, and I don't want to be the one to wreck it for them).

I don't take them to fancy-pants restaurants, but if I'm out somewhere and they're being loud enough to disturb others, I work on trying to get them to quiet down. The other day we were at a somewhat-upscale (although not fancy) brewery for lunch, and my son decided that screaming would be fun. He got two time-outs in the corner of the restaurant (I planted his feet, hovered his bottom about three inches above the floor, and held him there for about thirty seconds), and that solved the problem). It was *very* loud in there and there were other kids and, frankly, the screaming probably didn't bother others--but I didn't want him thinking that that was OK or fun. If it continued, I would have removed him from the restaurant.

When I brought them to the outdoor fountain in the park? Yep, they were screaming and running around like little fools. It was fantastic. Grocery store? We sing, dance, and act like goofballs, although we don't shout.

So while I agree that kids will be kids, I also think it's ultimately in *their* best interest to do my best to model and teach them polite behaviors in various settings. That said, hahahahahaha--I think the key there is "do my best."

Context is everything. I have one son, almost 3 yrs old.

Shopping is not a place one is guaranteed silence. There is no guarantee of never being bothered while out in public. I was once in a store behind a slow senior and people behind me were huffing! Come on, we all live together, and there is no law that you can never be inconvenienced.

However I do think the process of socialization is important. We use the phrase "indoor voices" and "outdoor voices" to remind my son, but he does need the reminders. I don't like shushing myself, I find it a rude noise.

I think the middle-range places like the coffee shop patio are a tough call. This is my personal approach. I do not think that "time out" is "time to relax" for parents if the kids are along. I get a little frustrated (if sympathetic) when I see parents leaving their kids alone so that they can read the paper or ignoring wriggly behaviour. If the parents are engaged with the kids and working with them, then I think a little wriggling and noise is okay.

But for us if my son is getting to where he needs to really play down off the table, it's time to go. We do a lot of picnics right now with take-out. It's just more fun for everyone that way. I prefer to set us all up for success. About once a month when he's had a good time outdoors and we're all in harmony, then we go out for a "practice" sit-down meal, so he learns. But if we just want to have fun, at THIS age, we just create conditions for fun.

For your differences with Marko though here is what I really think. He is the kids' father and he gets some say in how they are raised as well. You can gather information about norms for him, but if it is an issue for him then it truly is. He is not necessarily going to miraculously get over the embarrassment and feel fine with the loudness.

So... I think you need to let him work it out with the kids, and probably a good way to do that is to let the three of them go out on their own enough that he and they work it out however they are going to work it out.

My twins are now teenagers, and they are still LOUD. I mean really really loud. I'm constantly saying "I'm right here, why are you yelling?" when they're talking to me. With that in mind, I think that it's gonna be hard to find an answer to your question because it's a cultural thing. In the USA, kids are loud and the seen, not heard thing is long long gone. In fact, I think it's a couple of generations gone. I've never heard anyone say that about either my generation (I'm mid 50's) or my kids generation.

Like other's we have tried the 'inside' voice approach, which worked, but it wouldn't appease Marko. He just has a different view of parenting than you do, and he's uptight about deviating from how he was apparently raised. Kids DO make noise, they do have fun running around and chasing each other, and as long as they are not DISRUPTING anyone, then it's fine. And disrupting is different than disturbing. Many people are disturbed to know that children exist. No matter how well behaved your kids are, they hate them. So you can't go by the sour looks of the elderly, who have forgotten what it was like to have young kids.

Well, there is a middle ground between being "seen but not heard", and that is heard, but not quite so loud. Learning to control your volume in public is an important social skill, and one that is developed later in children with sensory issues, such as autism. I have a blast shopping with my kids, too, and I do have one that starts to get very excited and wants to shout. A well placed "I can hear you, please use your indoor voice" when your child is 2.5 or older is perfectly appropriate. However, expecting a child that young to be quiet in a busy cafe is impossible and shouldn't be expected anyway. Which is exactly why my husband and I only take our kids to family restaurants, too. I totally believe in kids being kids, but we don't just wake up as 18 year olds with a set of social skills neatly in place, we have to be taught. So unless you want grown kids who have no manners and are annoying in public and embarrass their spouses, a little training won't hurt. After all, as parents we are our children's first, and most important, teachers.

The dentist will make you ditch those dummies. You'll have no choice.
As for noise in public I'd say you are doing okay. The stores are always loud and if they aren't screaming I wouldn't have a problem with the cafe either.
I think the key is where they are when they are loud and you got it right when you said you wouldn't bring them to a place for grown-up dinner.
My three boys are grown.

I think it really depends on the situation. In both those places you described, it's not a big deal really, as long as they're not, as you've pointed out, screaming or causing a huge ruckus. However, yesterday at 5:30, I was on a packed train with a four year old who thought squealing and yelling was appropriate and her mom just laughed. I'm sorry, but after eight hours of work, I don't really want to listen to a screaming kid. Sure, she would have been cute in a park or even in a store where I was trapped beside her for a full hour, but there is a time and a place for different behavior, which is an important lesson for kids so they don't go to work dressed for a nightclub. ;-)
And I don't have kids yet. I do, however, have three rowdy neices who I practically live with. :-)

I am a not a parent yet, but I am a teacher of young children and do believe kids can be seen and heard as long as it is in a respectful manner to the people around. If kids are screaming in a resturant or store and it is very obvious that it is bothering the people in the store then yes they need to be reminded to be quiet. I just always think of kids even though they are just kids that they are the adults of the future. Starting to give them the social skills early that they will need when they get older is important. Adam and Kate are sooo cute and I am sure they are not too crazy in public. I think men get overly nervous sometimes about bother others in public because they arent always necessarily around to see all the outings.

I haven't read the comments but I'll tell you what i think. Children are children. They are not always quiet. They are cute and often noisy. I have no problem with this and don't believe the 'seen and not heard' thing. I think a lot depends on the situation. A child speaking happily but loudly is one thing, a child screaming like a banshee is another. i was at the local coffee shop on Sunday afternoon having my relaxing "down time" sans baby when a family came in w/ 2 adorable little boys, the older one was a true rascal in the shop, screaming, running around, etc. if my child had started to act like that in a coffee shop (which should be reasonably quiet) I would take him out and we'd either sit at the tables outside (it was not hot and they were shielded by the sun) or we'd take a walk to get a bit of energy out.

It's very situation dependent. But in general no, I think children will be children and I enjoy the sweet sounds of kids--even the louder ones--most of the time!

I agree that this is not an easy answer, but I will tell you our approach. We have a 4 yo daughter and a 9 month old son. I have a lot more patience with my infant son's loud noises because I cannot yet reason with him. However, my 4 yo is old enough to understand about the difference between private and public behavior. If she is too loud, I speak with her about it and explain why that is inappropriate public behavior. If she is unreasonably loud and cannot be reasoned with (e.g., restaurant), one of us takes her outside. It may be the influence of my Southern (Mississippi) upbringing, but I try to minimize the impact of my kids on other people's space when we are in enclosed places. When we're out in the open, walking around, in the park, in a child-friendly environment (the kid's museum, play places), absolutely the "kids will be kids" rule applies.

My kids are almost 3 and 1.5. I agree with you completely. If people don't want to be around kids, they should stay home.

Of course, in the library we use our "library voice" (but we forget often!), and at the movies (yes, big girl goes to movies) we do everything we can to help her remember to whisper (although going to Wall-E, you expect more background noise than at a showing of Jane Eyre or something). I try not to take them to a lot of kid-inappropriate activities, but that's also how they learn to be appropriate in those places, so sometimes we try to soldier through a play or something (with the big one, so far, not the little one).

Keep on being the awesome mother you are, and tell Marko to lighten up. :)

Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

I have 4 kids, ages 4, 6, 8, and 10....

I am with Marko on this. Both my husband and I are always hushing our 4 year old (the older kids no longer need to be hushed)... Why? Because I hate, hate, hate to be the center of attention. I want NO ONE to look at us. (I have issues) ... If we go to the McDonald's play place, we obviously don't say anything, because every one else's kids are screaming loud enough to be heard outside, and drown out even my 4 year old. *lol*

BTW, we are ALWAYS getting compliments about the kids when we are out (I just can't seem to avoid not being looked at. *sigh* ... Should just stay home), and the kids BEAM when people tell them how well behaved they are. One man even insisted on giving Joe some money to buy the kids some ice cream at Wendy's because they behaved so well (this was a couple years ago)... That made an impression on them. :D

I have a 6,5 and 1 year old and I like the middle of the road approach most of your commenters are taking.

"Children should be seen and not heard" really rubs me the wrong way. What if 'children' were replaced by 'women'. I KNOW its not the same thing but they are little people and to silence them as if they are unimportant or invisible bugs me a bit.

That said, like everyone else, there are limits of how much you would like to hear (and I believe this holds true for adults too - I can't stand when people talk to each other for the benefit of everyone else - and you know when someone is doing that). Also, for me, unless it is a very child oriented place where kids are expected to run and play, I do have a rule of "sit and face your plate" at a restaurant. Its always my fear that my kid will knock over a waiter with an arm load of food and send them crashing to the floor.

I do love to see children out in public laughing and joking and having a good time but for myself, I try to judge the audience. I try to make it so my kids are enjoyable to be around (clean up after them at restraurants, keep the noise to an acceptable level, etc.) and if I start getting unhappy looks, I'm kind of ashamed to say, I try to lower the noise even more.

Tertia, I think kids should be heard to give them the confidence to speak up later in life. But there are limits to how they express themselves. By the way, buy Avent Sippy cups - they are he only ones who does not leak. Took me buying 5 types of cups andquite a lot of tom to find this out.

For me, this one's easy to answer. Children are people too. As long as they are being polite (within their abilities) and safe, they have the right to be themselves. Sitting still and quiet at a family-friendly, casual outdoor cafe? That's just silly. Even I don't/won't do that.

For me, this one's easy to answer. (I have a 2-yr.-old and a 5-yr.-old.) Children are people too. As long as they are being polite and safe and are trying to meet your expectations for whatever environment you're in, they have the right to be themselves. Sitting still and quiet at a family-friendly, casual outdoor cafe? That's just silly. Even I don't/won't do that.

I think the answer is somewhere in the middle,and depends on the situation. I think that there should be a measure of flexibility with children because they ARE children. I also think that ultimately our job as parents is to teach them to be good adults. And that comes through little teaching moments throughout their life and also the example we set (probably more that than anything, unfortunately for me). So just like we teach them to say please and thank you because it teaches them to respect those around them, I personally do GENTLY remind my daughter to use an inside voice when we are inside. Sometimes I have to remind her quite often. But it is never in a harsh way, because if I'm teaching her to respect others, I need to respect her, too.

That being said, I do that when she is being LOUD. We also talk and sing and laugh, even in stores. And when we are outside and she is playing, I let her play. I think there is a fine line between teaching them to be aware of those around them and to feel confident in being who they are. (I say as I yell up the stairs for my daughter to calm down... it's all a process, this parenting thing.)

That being said, for the most part when I see parents who have kids climbing all over the cart and screaming/playing, I mostly just feel sorry for the parent. Because no matter how much I try to teach my kids, I definitely have my days like that too.

I am really noise-sensitive, so if I am in a public place and there is a child being loud, I might notice and maybe even seem uncomfortable, but I don't hold it against the child or the parents. Even if you shush a kid, they are not going to learn the lesson right at that moment -- it takes time to develop that "inside voice." I don't even have a child but I understand that children have a lot of energy and sometimes cannot help letting it out in a way that is loud!

I think that somewhere in between is good. My kids are now 6 and 8. The 6 year old has a loud voice (too loud) sometimes. And she screams and has a horrible temper. If she does this in public she gets 2 warnings then we leave. She is old enough to know better. From a young age we have not allowed screaming and having fits/tantrums in public. And I think a store is much different than a restaurant. No one shoudl really care in a store but in a restaurant I expect my kids to behave. No running around, being disruptive.
I know you don't want advice on the dummies, but I promise you they will get over it faster than you thinkk. I took my kids away at age 2, they were both VERY addicted. After a day or 2 it was fine, they had forgotten. The older they get the more difficult it will be and their teeth will be damaged. Our dr and dentist would have a fit if they saw my kids with them (younger than 2 yr!) AT this point it is more for you than for them. They don't need sucking to sooth at age 3. I promise it will be easier than you think!!!!!!!

I think children should be allowed to be children. And adults should be allowed to be adults.

I am (so far) childfree - and NOT by choice. But, I adore kids, and there is nothing nearly as heart-warming as a little one's laugh.

On the other hand, there is nothing quite so irritating as a child screaming at the top of their lungs for attention, because they're tired, or any other of the many reasons that little ones will scream.

If you'd yell across the store to your sister, than I don't see a problem having that volume of conversation with your child.

Should they be treated as little adults? No.

Should they be taught to behave in a respectful manner in the adult world? Absolutely.

Will this always work? Of course not!

And THANK YOU for not bringing them to adult restaurants. I HATE it if on the rare occassion I'm able to go out for a really good (ie expensive) meal, I'm forced to hear the whinings of a tired or bored child.

I don't have kids and never will be able to. One of the reasons is that bipolar disorder takes away my ability to tolerate noise. This can become a problem in stores, etc. at times.

I think kids should and need to be allowed to be kids. At the same time, I believe in parental responsibility. I often shop late at night, near closing, because I know there will be fewer children there and that's better for me. If it is 10 pm and someone has 3 very tired, cranky, crying/yelling/whining children then that does bother me. Again, not because I don't want to not know they exist, but because they are responding to not having the best thing done for them, and in turn that makes it hard for me to tolerate my own SI issues.

I also think there should be limits at a reasonable level. Encouraging children to run, run, run like someone did in a store I was in last week did has all kinds of dangers. I've also had a child turn around in a line and kick me in the shin and his parents ignored it. That is wrong. Another pet peeve of mine is those shoes with the skates. Not a good indoor activity; last night I watched a kid rolling around in a store with many elderly customers and wondered what would happen if he ran into one and broke her hip?

Again, kids are kids and I really think if they are out at an appropriate time of day and basic standards are kept they are great. I always smile at well-behaved children.

No kids yet, first one on the way, so I realise that people with kids will no doubt say that I'm niaeve or that I'll change when I have my own... BUT I do think that I'd like my kid/s to respect other people's space, audio space included.

Just like I get annoyed with phones that keep ringing or adults who talk on their cell phone in a restruant, make loud comments during the movie, or hold conversations accross the store, I am the same way about kids. I don't want to ruin your fun, but I do want you to concider that I might not want to hear your child's top of the lungs rendition of twinkle twinkle litle star. It assaults my ears and my personal space. I'm sensitive that way.

Of course I'm sure when you have your own kids you don't equate a persistently ringing phone with kids singing, but there will be other people out there who might feel that way, and I think I might like to be considerate when sharing a public space with them.

That said, I hate the 'seen and not heard' line. That takes it too far. They are still kids afterall. I'd like to find a balance, but my ideal scenario would be closer to Marko's than yours I think.

I think as long as there is a good balance. If the kids are being kids and not whining or out of control then they should definately be seen and heard. If they are whining, crying or tantruming then they need to be removed from the situation.

My pet peeve is being at the beach (or park) and having a stranger's child latch onto us for the day. I have three children and don't need another one to worry about dividing snacks and "politely" disciplining while trying to get their clueless mother to put the book down for a second and watch their own dang child! Whew....I have a real problem with that!


I agree something in the middle but it also seems if you posted that you are wondering. You know my kids are the same age as yours and sometimes Turner is quite loud but I also like someone else posted do not like being the center of attention and when we are out we work on quiet voices.

I have to admit one thing I read in your post though about screaming across the store - were you in sight of Adam? In the US I would never have my kids out of sight but that is more something I have to worry about more here (I might be more paranoid because T is a runner). If he was just down the aisle than the yelling is okay but across a store I'll be honest that would bug me as another customer there.

I think it has to be a balance. Like you said no screaming but talking and singing are okay. Also someone posted at some point Adam does have to learn about quiet voices which is even harder with sensory issues. I think at specific times it is something you can work with him in a loving way instead of him waiting to learn it at school. Think of all those shopping times you have with him to practice quiet voices in a fun way not all the time but some of the time.

So I see all the points - we go to breakfast every Saturday and it is noisy and the restaurant knows us well - I keep the kids entertained at the table and if they yell we say "quiet voices" or if they have a tantrum we take them out. We rarely take them to other restaurants because we don't think they are ready for it.

Good luck!

I'm pretty self-conscious about my kids making too much of a fuss in public. There are some places where it's okay--a children's store, a playground (of course!), a child friendly restaurant--and some places where it's not --a library (even the children's section), a store, a quiet restaurant).

Someone above commented something to the effect (no time to scroll back) that if people don't want to be around kids, they should stay home. Ouch. That reminds me too much of my sad infertile days when there were places I just couldn't go because there were so many kids and it was too painful. I think about that often when I'm bringing my kids somewhere--that my kids can sometimes be so much more than just a minor annoyance.

I actually wrote an article about eating out with small children for the online parenting magazine Root and Sprout:

Dining Out With Small Children

In a nutshell? Know your children and their abilities and pick the right place and time. A bit of noise in an outdoor cafe is fine, noise loud enough to drive the rest of the patrons to insanity in a closed room is less fine. Different standards of behavior for different locations. As long as you have realistic standards and expectations there's no reason in the world why your children cannot be full participants in public life.

They are members of society - of course they should both be seen and heard.

My caveat is a child having a meltdown in a public place. If they're melting down, remove them from the scene. It's a mercy for them and the other people around them. To me, it signals that the kid is too tired/too hungry/too overstimulated to be asked to do the shopping trip/adventure they're on.

The "seen and not heard" adage is archaic.

Here's what this childless harpy expects in a restaurant from kids: That they use indoor voices and they sit in their seats. Even if you're eating outside. Even if other kids are running around. Restaurants are for sitting and eating, not playing. (Unless there's an attached playpark.)

This also counts for coffee shops. Coffee shops have become places for people to quietly work, study, or converse. We sit in our seats and talk quietly. That's what I expect from kids there too.

I wouldn't go to a playground and be judgmental toward kids who are screaming, running and playing. In kind I expect not to be dismissed with "go someplace grownup" when I want to eat out.

Ah -- I am very opinionated on this topic! I will, however, attempt to keep my comments as short as possible. (For reference, I am the parent of one adult daughter.)

I believe it is the job of the parents to teach children how to behave in public. Yes, kids will be kids, but they need to learn when and where it is appropriate to be loud (i.e. park, backyard playing, sporting event, etc.); when it is acceptable to talk, but now loudly (i.e. restaurant, shopping area, etc.) and when it is required to be quiet (church, wedding, funeral, when others are speaking, etc.)

I could go on with examples of poorly-parented children vs well-parented children, but I don't want to hijack your comments! To summarize, children don't instinctively know when it is ok to be loud and when it is not; it is up to us, the adults, to teach them.

Everyone has already said it. Balance. It seems to me you have a good balance. I'm from a family where if you didn't speak up (read: shout) then you weren't heard. My husband is from a family quite the opposite. So he gets annoyed at me when I'm on my cell phone or when I'm talking to my family. I'm just a loud person. My son is only 2 mos old so I'm not sure what I'll do going forward, probably will depend on if he is like me or like my husband. I have been in the store when my son wasn't just sleeping in his bucket and it nearly drove me to tears to think how annoyed everyone was by his incessant crying and he wouldn't take a binki. Looking back (it was several weeks ago) I think I was probably more sensitive to it than anyone else was.

The only time I really get annoyed by children in public is when the parent is clueless as to their childs behavior. The other day a child was aimlessly steering the cart and in such a way as to be obstructing everyone else's path through the store and the mother was not paying attention to her daughter at all. It was a busy Saturday afternoon so the mother really should have been paying attention. Later at the same store there was a kid screaming at the top of her lungs but the mother was trying to reason with her/teach her to calm down. The first situation, although technically less annoying because of the lack of noise, was more bothersome to me personnally, more because of the parent's behavior. It is really all subjective.

Drat -- I didn't proofread --

"but NOW loudly " should read "but NOT loudly" -- sorry

Also, there are restaurants specifically marketed towards children(at least here in Southern California)where it IS acceptable for children to be loud. -- and I avoid those like the plague! But an outdoor cafe is not, at least in my opinion, one of those places.

Another middle-of-the-roader: Kids will be kids, but kids do not have to be so screamingly loud that they can't be ignored, even in "family restaurants."
And kids in restaurants should stay in their seats, for everyone's safety.

I just looked and realized that I am at one with Kimberley the childless harpy, and I feel good about it.

Sounds like you have struck a nice balance; a little loud but not out of control. I think the key is that the parent should have enough control over kids that it is the parent allowing the activity and not kids just running wild. Parents should be able to reel in the kids if appropriate. Appropriate being measured by safety and respectfulness standards. Respectfullness in my book does NOT mean catering to the crotchety old man sneering down his nose at you either.

I am with you on this. I do draw the line at letting my son (he's 3) run around in public places, as he loves to do that but doesn't watch where he's going and will run into people. He also thinks it's great fun to hide from me in stores, which is a nightmare, so he stays in the cart, always. However, there's nothing wrong with talking, singing, etc. while in a shoppy cart. Have to keep their interest somehow!

And if it's a casual restaurant with an outdoor fountain, by all means the children don't have to stay quietly at table, as long as they are not running and shouting between the tables. I have gotten some nasty looks from adults who clearly don't like children, but the vast majority of adults smile and talk to my son when we're out. So I figure if people don't like children, they shouldn't go to places where children are. Which is 99% percent of the world. So screw them!

When my daughter was 2, i started the concept of 'inside voice'. This doesn't mean that she got it at 2, probably after she turned 3. But we would discuss before we went shopping and to restaurants the difference between talking and shouting. And i'd let her go outside and use her 'outside voice', which did consist of her screeching and shouting and being extremely shrill.

Her preschool had the same concept, so it wasn't totally foreign to her when she started there and they talked to the children about inside and outside voices. I guess i never felt like we were constantly 'shushing' her, but just reminding her that in certain places, you don't talk your loudest. (I wish some adults would get that concept! I will happily keep my kids' voices down if you won't feel compelled to talk about your sex life or your neighbor's drug addiction at the top of your lungs while i'm trying to eat my salad.)

I am a mother and before that I was an aunt and I never particularly subscribed to the seen and not heard theory. So, this is in no way a judgment on you, since I probably am a lot like you in this respect.

BUT, and this is a big but, am I the only one with a mother who insists kids were better behaved in a previous generation???

Yes, kids will be kids, but I get the sense that our generation uses that as a blanket excuse for a lot of not-so-great behavior. I don't know how it happened, but I think as a generation we all indulge our kids.

My sense is that as mostly working moms we feel guilty about being away and make up for it by not being so strict when we our together. Growing up, my mom was home all the time, but she was cooking and cleaning and what not while we kids played among ourselves. Speaking for myself I know I work all day and then try to cram some fun kid time in at the end of the day. The kid takes over.

I don't know what the solution is here. But my sense is that there should be a way to have perfectly happy kids who still sit quietly in a restaurant while the adults talk. Hey I did that when I was a kid.

Mostly I like the noises of joyful little children. It is a constant reminder to stay loose and not take myself too seriously.

I rasied 3 to adulthood and I felt that my only real job was to make them good citizens of the world. That means teaching them to respect other people, among other things.

Of your scenarios I think having cross store conversations is kind of obnoxious but singing and talking while rolling the cart is fine. The fountain thing sounds okay as long as the kids know that they have to walk up to your chair to communicate verbally with you. In other words - no calling across the courtyard.

You are sensory sensitive so surely you can respect other people's need not to have to endure very loud conversations in public, right? Just think of what would work or not work for you and act accordingly. If you do that you'll be fine.

Mostly I think you are 10 or 20 or 30 times the mother you say you are on your blog. Your kids are adorable.

I think all people should use a quiet respectful voice when out in public. I don't think "talking" across a store or aisle is appropriate, even if it isn't yelling. From what you described, I would be bothered by the noise in a store or restaurant. I have three children, none are always well behaved, but I have worked very hard on having them understand that when they talk too loudly and others can hear their conversations clearly from a distance, they are way too loud. Imagine if we all let ourselves and our children talk loudly in public spaces? They don't need to whisper, but a quiet rather than loud voice should be encouraged.

Kids are kids. And I always thought people "hated" them (on airplanes, in restaurants). I cannot tell you how much help and support I've gotten with my little one. People are nicer than I thought.

Mine is still little. We don't take her to restaurants much. If she starts crying, we leave. I drive separately from my friends so that we have the option to leave if she is overtired and acting up.

Two extremes of crazy: my mom sushing the grandkids in their own pool at 3 p.m. (don't disturb the neighbors) -- My brother is raising "free range" babies. I'd like to think there is some middle ground? Steak house - kids quiet Pancake house - kids place.

First a disclaimer -- no kids here, yet. I think kids should be kids and if they're just having fun and not screaming, I think it's fine. But I happen to be a loud person myself and often find strangers giving me a *look* in a restaurant that tells me maybe I'm talking too loudly. I don't see any reason that kids should be seen and not heard, unless you're in church, or some other such place where talking is a no-no for everyone.

As a childless person, what bothers me more is parents who loudly talk to their kids in baby talk and expect the whole cafe to be involved in their conversation. And parents who ram your ankles with a stroller when you're in a busy shop. And parents (like the ones on my flight from Cancun to Mexico City the other day) who completely ignore their three year old while she screams about not being able to play her Gameboy because the plane is landing. I find parents to be far more annoying than kids! :) So I think you're completely fine!

Oh thank God someone else's four year old also still has a dummy. Pfew *sigh of relief*

When I did not have kids, the noise kids made bugged me intensely. It would make me really angry. "Can't these parents shut their brats up".

Now it does not really bug me anymore. Except when I am in a place that is clearly not meant for kids (like a smart restaurant).

We try to teach appropriate places and times for noise and play. Kid-friendly restaurant, ok. But no running or talking with food in the mouth because of choking. Fancy restaurant, everyone is very very quiet and well-mannered, or else.

I have an 11yo, and 8yo and a newborn, and I have to go out in public with them, no choice. So there will be tantrums and fights in public. But I do try to teach them not to and over the years they have improved dramatically. At this point I actually could take the 11yo to a fancy high end restaurant and he would know which fork to use and act perfectly. But that's only because I endured many years at our own table teaching them. It's a process.

And loud is fine while shopping...malls are never quiet. Especially toy stores. But do think about trying to slowly teach them to be quieter in the right times and places so that someday you can all go somewhere together and Marko will be relaxed and calm and so will you.

I'm childless, but trying to put it all in context.

Frankly, I'm with cheryl on the idea that it shouldn't just be parents who get to decide when a grown up event exists and what should or shouldn't be one. I have many friends with small kids and we do end up in cafes with them, which is fine for me because I've agreed to that in making the appointment, but not necessarily fine for the business men next to me having a casual, but still business, lunch. In these situations a child doesn't have to be silentIMO, but it also shouldn't be running around or yelling. They are paying the same amount we are, and they aren't sitting there with stereo's turned up loud disturbing us.

In your example of a kids store, though, I see absolutely nothing wrong with it, and in all situations you stressed that they don't yell, so I would think it isn't an issue.

Hah, forgot the punctuation! I meant:

I'm childless, but trying (to concieve)-to put it all in context.

I think it's important to teach kids to respect others. That includes taking stock of the situation and determining whether loud voices are or are not appropriate.

Here's what I think: If it's a place where you would use a loud voice and not feel you were disturbing others, then it's OK for your kids to do the same. If it's a place where you would normally talk in lower tones, your kids needs to learn to do the same.

They are only kids once, yes, but it is your job as their caregiver to teach them the things they will need to know to be happy, healthy adults.

I'm not saying remove them from the grocery store the moment they use a loud voice. I am saying hey, it's good to remind them that it's not respectful of the other people shopping if they make a lot of noise. I'm saying you carry on a conversation before you go in about what is appropriate behavior, and you remind them of that.

Seriously, that's my general rule: If I think it would be rude (not embarrassing -- I allow embarrassing) for me to do it, I don't let my kids do it.

I have a 4 year old and a 2 1/2 year old.

Absolutely NOT. Children are children, not mini-adults who know all about social graces. My oldest (2.5) is very loud when she gets excited, and there's no way in hell I'd ever stifle her excitement about something just to make others happy.
People need to understand that this world belongs to young children too, and that they have ever right to explore and live in it as they need to. Kids are loud sometimes, deal with it!
(I haven't read the comments, by the way).

Well, first, my 3 kids are grown, and I have a young grandson.

I know kids are kids but I think they can learn to be considerate of others at a fairly young age. They don't need to be shrieking or screaming, and they can learn to modulate their voices while in public. The lovely thing about kids is that they are pretty much NOT selfaware, and therefore need to be told if they are being annoying to others-because it is hurtful to them if another adult glares or heaven forbid makes a remark within their earshot.

As to Marko, if their noise annoys HIM, well, he's the dad, and it's okay for him to ask them to maintain low tones. It would be helpful if he can do this smilingly, and as training, not as rebuking, because the poor little mites are just learning how life goes and are not noisy just on purpose to annoy people.

I do say this as one who really cannot take much loudness from kids. I promise you I didn't warp mine!

You mentioned that Kate and Adam are loud, so it's not just that they talk a lot. It's not the talking, it's the volume at which they are talking. If you're noticing disapproving looks, it's time to remind the kids to lower their voices, because they are annoying the other customers. Four is not too young to learn to have some consideration for others.

I don't have children (by choice) and I think I'm pretty tolerant of kid noise in public. If I'm at a family restaurant, in an outdoor setting or in a family oriented store (grocery store, department store, etc.) your kids can be kids. Talking, laughing and goofing around are actually pretty amusing to me. I draw the line at screaming tantrums because I think a kid, if there is a reasonable exit strategy, should be taken out of the situation. I also draw the line at really bothersome behavior that goes unchecked. Is the kid under my table and the parent unconcerned? Not OK. Is the kid tearing apart a display with no admonishment from the parent? Also not OK. I'm not upset at the kid at that point, just annoyed at the parent.

If I'm at an adult restaurant or at a coffee shop (sorry, I know this is unpopular) I don't have a lot of tolerance. Ring around my cushy chair while I enjoy my rare and expensive cup of coffee while trying to relax with a crossword puzzle is really, really not OK with me. I was a barista for 2 years in my youth and I really don't think a coffee place is kid friendly. If a person wants to unwind with a beverage and read a book, do homework or work, that person should be able to. I would think that the average coffee shop would be boring for a kid, in any case.

I had a paci until I was almost, but not quite, five. I knew I would get made fun of in kindergarten, so I ditched it on my own. I am not emotionally warped, I have all my teeth and no one was worse for the wear.

I am not thrilled about children screaming and throwing food and running around in restaurants (I have no kids) but just talking a bit loudly? Sheesh, they're not adults, and there's no way they should be expected to act as such.

Another one for the middle of the road. It's appropriate to expect kids to behave reasonably decently, especially at restaurants, and to remove them if they become disruptive. They have to learn to do this somehow.

On the pacifiers -- my daughter is 4.5 and we just got rid of it a few months ago, but found a way to make it her idea -- the "paci fairy" came and brought her a present when she was ready to give it up. Clearly, she was ready, because it wasn't much of a process after that. E-mail me if you want details on how we did it.

That said, I got really mixed messages from the dentist and pediatrician about the paci. The dentist said take it away as soon as possible, and the ped said don't even worry about it until she's 6. *shrug* So we took it slow and easy with the paci fairy approach, and it worked like a charm.

I follow the same rules my parents followed with me - be polite, and use indoor/outdoor voices. If I can keep my children happy, but also not yelling and disrupting other peoples' experiences, then I would like other parents to do that as well. The things that annoy some people do not annoy others, and it is impossible to please everyone, but when in public I believe there is a line between "having fun" and being rude.

Children are to be seen and not heard is absolutely ridiculous. But I find it just as ridiculous (and I'm not saying you do this; haven't met, so I don't know!) when parents let their kids yell loudly, whine, screech, etc. in places where other people are trying to go about their day. Let them play, let them be happy, laugh, talk, etc. etc. but when you're consistently disrupting other people - and I think that key word is consistently - then you need to check yourself and see if you're being fair to other people, and not just your child.

I used to work retail and the most annoying thing was loud PEOPLE, not just the kids. Perhaps if your conversation can be heard from a far distance, taking it down just one notch might be nice. There was nothing worse than hearing people talk loudly for hours on end. If for no other reason think of the people working there. In a toy store, I'm sure a bit louder is fine, if a place is reasonably quiet, it probably shouldn't be disrupted too much.

I think noise is expected, but that there is a reasonable level and an unreasonable level. I love my four year old's voice, but have to remind him if he gets too loud or too talkative. An adult who constantly talked loudly would have quite a small audience.

I remember listening to my mother less and less when I realized the rest of the world spoke much quieter than did she. It also doesn't help that she's always talking. I would prefer if we could communicate online or through mail. She's embarrassingly loud. And my husband has poor social skills and it drives me crazy.

Mom of 3 boys: 8, almost 9, & 13.

I am very fortunate in that I usually get compliments from (even childless) people in public. I've tried to "stay on them" from the start so that there weren't bad habits that needed to be broken later. That's not to say that I expected them to stand at attention like soldiers or be mute, by I always expected them to act their best for whatever their age & developmental level would allow.

I have worked with the public since my very first job so I've seen it *all*. It taught me to realize when a kid was just being a kid and when a parent was just being oblivious to the needs, comfort level, and rights of other people as well as their own child. My kids' feet never touched the floor of a store until they were about 4 years old. That's what carriages and strollers are for. I've seen many people let their kids go running through a public place causing havoc and THEN try to get them back in the stroller. Not gonna' happen! My solution to that was to never let them out in the first place. They never knew what it was like to wander around so they didn't know what they were "missing". But were they really "missing" anything? 1.) I always knew where they were. (Haven't had the pleasure of a missing kid in a store, YET.) 2.) They weren't touching items that were possibly breakable or hazardous to them. 3.) They weren't getting knocked over or knocking into other people. I made it a pleasurable experience for all involved. They weren't bothering anyone, they weren't getting corrected for doing what kids do, and I was getting my errands done more efficiently so they weren't being dragged around any longer than necessary. Once they were old enough to walk around without us needing to worry about those things, we let them. It didn't stunt their ability to learn how to behave on foot, so no harm done. What is the value in letting them walk around stores as toddlers, anyway? IMO, you're just setting them up for failure. I equate it trying to potty train too early.

As for noise level in stores, restaurants, etc. ... Talking is of course not only fine, but is welcomed! I want to talk to my kids while we're out so I can teach them all about what we're seeing. That's how they learn about the world around them. There isn't a need to talk any louder than being able to hear one another, though. When they are where they're supposed to be (near me) we can talk at a reasonably low level and still hear just fine. If we have to raise our voices, they're too far away and need to come closer. If we're at the playground, back yard, an indoor play place, etc. the noise level will be different, obviously. They can run, laugh, yell to one another from a distance, etc. BUT... there's no need to scream and screech. It drives me bat-shit-crazy when kids screech and scream for absolutely no reason at all and parents don't say a word. How on Earth do people know when something is REALLY wrong if the kid screams like a lunatic ALL the time? To me, it's kind of like the boy who cried wolf. If I hear my kids screaming bloody murder, that's my clue that something is really, really wrong. That's not to say that they don't need occasional reminders to keep things reasonable. I'm not trying to portray them as angels by any means.

A few commenters mentioned needing to remove crying children from stores, restaurants, etc.. Some people do it, some people are just full of empty threats. The kid KNOWS which one of those people you are. No matter how many times you tell a child "If you don't stop, we're going home!" they aren't going listen to you unless you've actually ever removed them from a place they wanted to be. They don't care if you leave the grocery store before you've completed your list, because they don't want to be there anyway! That being said, if a kid is throwing a tantrum in a store it's probably because you've dragged them around past what their age & attention span will allow, or one of their basic needs aren't being met. If your kid is flipping out in the store at dinner time or at 8:30 at night, it's because they're hungry or tired and they shouldn't have been dragged out in the first place. That's when a kid is being a kid and they can't help it. Yes, you should remove them, but not as a punishment to them. They need to be tended to because they can't do it themselves.

Children should be seen AND heard. Our common sense should kick in as parents and tell us where, when, and how. We should look around and see how we would feel if we were at that establishment without children (or if we worked there). As others have said, everyone is paying the same price to be there so if everyone isn't on the same page when it comes to noise and activity level, something has gotta' give. It means one of two things; either people came with incorrect expectations of peace and quiet, or the loud boisterous ones are out of line. In most cases I guess majority rules.

Sorry for the novel but as a mom of a special needs kid who couldn't always "help" how he acted in public, this is something I feel VERY strongly about. It is possible to have children be part of this world without imposing on others.

I will accept normal "loud" excitement in my kids when we go out. I do not put up with tantrums or even just "screaming for fun" in restaurants and the like, though.

As long as the children grow up to be quiet axe murderers, I think we will all sleep soundly at night.

I have 2 kids (4 and 1.5) ... I have no problem with cheerful, energetic, sometimes a bit loud children. I do not like chronically loud, badly behaved, bratty, rowdy children (especially at restaurants). There is a line that is hard to describe but it sounds like you are on the right side of it!

I don't have children either, but here are my thoughts. As a nurse, camp counselor, and nanny, I feel pretty comfortable with kids. But I hold them to roughly the same expectations as adults. You talk quietly in a quiet place and you can rough house and run around on a playground. Many adults don't follow these rules--and I personally find it much more invasive to have an adult loudly talking on a cell phone next to me compared to an appropriately acting 2 or 4 year old. Kids might need correction, and they might not be 100% appropriate all the time, but I agree with the above posters that it's a learning curve that we all have to go through.

Darling, I think it's a bit of a loaded question.

Is it just about the children? Or is it about which of the grown-ups' behaviour is right? Tertia who is loud or Marko who is quiet?

Because I am rather like Marko in some respects, clearly; Marko is right.

Dear thing, if you routinely yell your conversations across public places, then you don't have a leg to stand on in asking Adam and Kate to be quiet and to be considerate of others' space.

And (I think) they're too little to understand that this is how we behave when we go out with mummy (i.e like mummy) and it's different when we go out with daddy. (And, dear lord, would you really want that anyway?)

I feel - with great sympathy and affection - that you owe it to all the members of your family to find a compromise way of behaving in public that will allow the four of you to share years upon years of happy family bonding, interacting and experiencing new things over regular meals out together. It doensn't seem fair to be raising Adam and Kate in a way that precludes their sharing any 'public space' time with their father, or doing so but absolutely dreading it because of all the tension.

Also, the Major could probably unwind a bit, too.

I hope I haven't overstepped the mark: I wouldn't have written this if I didn't respect and like you immensely.

I think there's a time and a place for loud voices (cheerful or not), and it's important to learn how to interrupt/ask questions of an adult in the more "strict" situations. In a shop, in a restaurant, etc. calls for a softer voice than being at the park or at the zoo. In a church, even softer. At a pool, much much louder. But in general, if you have a question to ask me, come over to me... shouting across a store, to me, is rude. I don't think it would have phased me to see someone else do it, but I would have asked my kids to come closer to ask their question.

Sometimes, what or when something is happening is as important as where... I cannot handle too much commotion before breakfast, so it's quietish play in the early AM here. My husband watches the evening news (as did my father and his father) and does not appreciate being disturbed, so if you have something loud to do, you do it outside or in another part of the house!

As lovely as it is for "kids to be kids", I think by 2 it's time to learn that there are times and places for different types of play and noise. It's okay to climb at the playground, NOT at a garden center. It's okay to yell during a fall fair... not at the grocery store.

I used to think children to should seen and be at least quiet.
Now I am of the opinion that people can just suck it.
That seems rude, doesn't it? But my perspective is different. There is something happening in the world - and in the US, it's happening to 1 in every 95 boys. It's called autism and my 4 year old son has it.

1 in 95 boys, 1 in 150 children. That is a lot. And it affects every aspect of behavior- especially that which takes place in public. Children with autism look just like everyone else- it is a "hidden disability" unlike Down's Syndrome.
My son is loud in public. He recites commercials, he runs away, he tantrums. He is not misbehaving, he is not spoiled, and he is not a brat. He is doing the best he can and so am I. I will not hide him away from the world so that others will not be "inconvienced." i will take him out and try to teach him appropriate behavior, which may or may not happen.
So the next time, you are out and see kids that you think may need more discipline, stop and think that there may be other things at work- more and more frequently for boys and girls- it may autism that you are not seeing.
At the rate autism is rising we are all going to be learning to make better accomodations for these children.

I have a 8 yr-old boy and a 3.5 yr-old girl.
I think it depends on where you are at. I don't see a problem about you having a conversation with him across the store. It is a store for kids after all. OF course if they are at the movies, it might cause a problem.
My girl has loud voice, her brother is forever shushing her. But I usually choose places that are kids-friendly, so even my girl is talking loudly, her voice is drowned out anyway.

I'm basically with you and Boy Genius' is basically with Marko. Does that help at all? Our kids are 3 and 5 and LOUD. When we had just 1, he wasn't to terribly loud and Boy Genius bragged about it. Now that there's 2, they are loud, even when they are wore out and tired, they are just loud. Kids might be meant to be seen and not heard in some places, but the wide wild open air is one of them.

of course kids should be seen and heard. i want to hear their wisdom and their opinions, i want to hear when they're happy and why, and when they're sad and why. i want to hear their stories and experiences.

that's got nothing to do with shouting conversations across a shop, or running around a cafe...i don't think we're actually hearing children when they do that.

i was in a movie the other day and the woman next to me talked loudly throughout - really loudly. i had this moment of intuition where i thought that she has learnt to talk loudly because no-one has ever actually listened to her. i might have been wrong, but my intuition is pretty good...

from my experience, lots of kids talk loudly because no-one's listening to them. i see that all the time in cafes. the adults in their company are too busy talking to each other, or reading the paper, or ignoring them... their volume gradually increases ... and we shut them up by shouting right back at them.

let's not confuse the 'being heard' in the statement that 'children should be seen and heard' with being loud. we do kids a disservice with that... and we do the rest of the community a disservice too.

In general, I believe kids will be kids, and people who give disapproving looks are the ones who will ALWAYS find something to disapprove of. However, there are certain places I just try to avoid bringing my kids. Example: adult doctor's office. If you absolutely must bring your child to some place like that, I think it's important to try everything possible to keep them quiet (bring lots of quiet toys and snacks, prepare them ahead of time about expected behavior). I was at an OB/Gyn appointment a couple of weeks ago and couldn't believe how much two separate mothers were letting there kids yell and run. What really grated on me was that one mother just thought her son was being cute, and she spoke to him quite loudly saying things like, "Does pookie want more num-nums? More num-nums?" in the quiet waiting room. I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it.

I think it is quite alright for children to talk and laugh and goof around in public. As long as they are not shrieking/screaming, being maniacs, or pesty, yanno, the obvious misbehaviour. Teenagers and adults like to talk openly and have a good time, what is the difference? For reference, my child is about to turn three months old, and I have worked w/ babies and toddlers for the past 2.5 years. There is a big difference between a family who is having a loud coversation and a child who is misbehaving.

I've got three of the little buggers (seven, four, and almost-three) and they are ALL loud-talkers (and furthermore, the younger two are screamers, and worse yet, the youngest is shrill enough to vibrate window panes) and it's horrible! Which isn't to say I don't love my children but when I have a migraine and have a child attached to each leg? The one time I lost it and smacked the baby on the hand that was the deal, and it was ALL about the noise. Dunno about yours, but my children are controlling little monsters and noise is their most formidable weapon--there are more time-outs and privileges revoked over noise pollution than anything else in our house. I, too, think it is possible for children to be children without being horrifically loud (which isn't to say that in a proper context, like a playground environment or the fountain area you described, I don't let them make noise--as RainbowW mentioned, try to stop them. I dare you.) and we have a saying here "we can TALK, we can LAUGH, we can SING, but we DON'T MAKE NOISE." Because really, barnyard noises for no good reason? Totally unnecessary. I'm probably more in line with Marko on this one (people are always commenting on how well-behaved my children are and I'm always like "what--THOSE kids?") but raising voices when talking excitedly is one thing, but just shrieking for the hell of it is another.

My kids are so loud someone suggested once I have their hearing checked. I have. They can "hear" just fine...it's the listening part they don't quite get. Ack.

I'm more of the "seen and not heard" type. Having a happy childhood doesn't require that the child be allowed to talk at top volume everywhere they go. I taught my kids to talk quietly, sit in their chairs, and be respectful of the people around them. I always took quiet toys and drawing materials with us to restaurants, and didn't expect to relax at a table while the kids ran around amusing themselves.

It certainly didn't spoil their childhoods, and it opened up a lot of opportunities for them. Because they were well-behaved, they had lots of adult friends who chose to spend time with them and take them fun places.

Oh, and they're 13, 17, 20, and 22, and are still delightful to be around.

Totally depends on the location, e.g. the theater vs. restaurant, etc. like you said. I have 3 kids 10 mos, 5 yrs, and 13 yrs. I've been through most every stage. I love getting those knowing smiles from other parents, sometimes to say 'I love this age' and sometimes to say 'don't worry, we've all been there.'

When I do feel my kids are getting a little loud and they are able to understand this, I simple say 'can you turn your volume down please?' or 'remember, inside voices'.

I can not imagine a world where we didn't hear children's voices and their laughter...it'd be a sad world indeed.

Tertia, what kind of question is this? Of course children should be heard. The FEW exceptions are places with specific rules about silence that apply to everyone and have a technical reason, for example in a library, and at the theater, otherwise these places cannot function. Or if you are visiting a sick friend at a hospital, I would try not to wake everyone up. Come on! Let's just use courtesy and common sense, and move to the next post!!! (and please make a bit more spicy!) Ciao

I think you are perfectly reasonable. I think children should not be expected to act like adults, but at the same time, crying, temper tantrums and screaming are not appropriate. I think it's also setting appropriate. At a sit-down inside restaurant my daughter is taught to sit at the table and not walk around. She's fine with that as she loves to eat! But we've been to outdoor cafes and restaurants and I'm fine with letting her dance to the music or walk around to look outside where I can see her. There's something about being outside that kids can't sit still. My DH gets a little uptight about that too. Love that bugger too, but he drives me crazy.

I would prefer my children to be quiet in public. I like to not draw attention to myself and just blend in with the surroundings. However, I have 4 sons who are loud and draw attention to us wherever we are out. I dislike it and find ways to either not go out or bring them with me. They fight, bicker and just make it so I want to not know WHO they are. If were sweet sounds, than perhaps, it would be okay, but it isn't. It isn't even sweet sounds in our home. I would like to move to somewhere quiet.

I think I am the same as you. Children should be allowed to be children and sometimes, kids are noisy.

I don't like tantrums, or screaming and I will leave if my daughter tries to scream the place down. She is nearly 2.

I have 3 year old b/g twins, and we dine out frequently with them (though never at top-notch restaurants) and take them to movies, etc. In the car ride on the way there, we talk to them about our expectations. I have no problem with my kids talking at the table with us, but draw the line at screaming or crying (tantrums)or getting out of their seats. We will get up and walk out with one of them and have a "talk" if they display that type of behavior. In fact, on the way to the movies today, it was evident my daughter remembered the last time we went to the movies and I had to take her out because she wanted to (loudly) narrate all the action on the screen. As we were talking to them about staying in the seats and whispering, she said, "No, I just keep my mouth closed." Ha! Those were my exact words of frustration last trip to the movies.

I also find that restaurants that give out "children's menus" with crayons work really, really well with the kids.

My kids are 2.5y and 5yr ... they are not quiet beings! I won't take them to a grown-up restaurant because they can't be expected to behave there. I don't think they should have to be silent everywhere, kids like to play and be jolly, and they quickly learn when it's appropriate and when it isn't. Like, softly in church / hospitals etc ... reasonable voice levels in shops / parks etc.
The thing is in public, you will please 1/2 the people and piss off the other 1/2. If my youngest has a tantrum, if I discipline her publicly, I get frowned at, and if I don't, I get frowned at. You can't really win. If she melts down I tend to remove her from the situation, which she hates, and it spares everyone's ears at the same time.

As for the dummy / pacifier / soother - thing ... you don't see many 12-year-olds using them. My philosophy is, This Too Shall Pass.

I also have a boy child with a faulty volume control and have been known to have those same, cross store conversations. In the examples you gave I see nothing wrong with allowing children to laugh, talk and play but then again I'm also probably a too soft, ill disciplined mother.

Dh is more like Marko however; in fact, they would probably enjoy dining together and moaning about their loud children and inconsiderate wives!! It can be stressful going out with he and DS as a result and I find it quite hard to back up his attempts to control the volume and chatter. That's why wine was invented - to help us deal with husbands who whine.


I think that as kids get older, it's more important to do as their parents say than to be told to always be quiet in public. They need to learn that there are places that it's okay to be quiet and places that it's okay to be loud.

My son is four and a half now, and we've taken him to "grown-up" restaurants since he was a toddler, with only one incidence of having to leave because of his noise, when he was about 3. We left without his food and he had to eat a regular meal at home and has been well behaved in restaurants ever since. He is allowed to run and be loud in children's restaurants, anywhere outdoors, and even in more crowded stores (department stores, warehouse stores, etc, that are going to be loud anyway). But if I tell him that we are somewhere that we need to be quiet, he listens and he occupies himself (or I help him occupy himself) quietly, such as in libraries, bookstores, or grown-up restaurants.

Personally, I don't think it would have worked for us to avoid quiet places when he was little, I don't think he would be as well behaved NOW if we had avoided those places early on. Of course, he still has his moments where he will get loud in a quiet place, but he can normally control himself, since he knows we will leave immediately if I have to remind him more than twice to be quiet, and normally there is something in it for him when we go somewhere quiet, so he's willing and able to behave.

well, I think some adults are awfully loud in restaurants, on buses, planes, elevators etc yacking louding on the phone while you can't get away. We all could stand to be considerate of others in public places. Your kids sound fine.

I don't subscribe to "children should be seen and not heard", but I do subscribe to "there's a time and place for everything". My children are teenagers and learning these social skills has been a challenge at times. There's a time to be loud and jovial (like in the Baby shop - I don't see a problem with that) and then there is a time to be a bit more quiet (like in a restaurant)because there are other diners around. But if it's a child friendly restaurant, then the other guests (by virtue of their choice to be there) shouldn't have a problem with children that are loud or running around.

I don't have kids yet, but I am in college studying to be a teacher, so I am around kids constantly, and obviously love kids. I say it all depends on the situation-children's stores, parks, casual restaurants,and pretty much anywhere outdoors, I say let them live it up. You're right, they are only children once. On the other hand, if they must get dragged into an adult store (I saw a woman let her children run around (I mean full on running) in a Victoria's Secret (lingerie shop), darting around in front of people, banging into people, etc.), or in a nice restaurant, or in a cramped space, like an airplane or train, I think that they should have something quiet to do, like coloring books or books to look at. I think it just depends on the situation, and I really enjoy seeing children laughing and having a good time as much as possible.

Background: have twin girls who will be two tomorrow and who are on the "active side."

Opinion: there are "nice louds" and "awful louds." A kid screaming and having a tantrum at a cafe is awful and should not have to be tolerated by other people. A kid laughing and having fun (in a non-obnoxious way) is part of what being a child is, and most people will find it cute. That said, there are clearly some places and situations that are adult oriented (such as dinner at a fancy restaurant) and where adults shouldn't have to put up with noisy kids no matter how cute they are (the cafe situation that you describe doesn't seem to fall in this category, imo).

When I was just a new mom I used to get so anxious going into public especially because my baby had some loud screaming fits. I've since gotten over that anxiety because it didn't do anyone any good. If people get pissed at me I don't give a damn. Even if my child does have a screaming fit, I try to calm him just as I would at home. I really could care less if someone minds, they're in public for goodness sakes, they have to endure the public. I mean honestly, do you think I want my kid to be screaming? Is it my choice? Obviously not, if you think you can do better come right over and try.

For your kids that are just making happy noise, go right ahead and do it! I see it far less annoying than the table of drunk people being rowdy and loud.

For those of you that think all kids should be silent in public: Welcome to planet Earth, we have babies here and they make noise!!!!

I was raised by the "seen and not heard" brand of parents and while I can understand it, I am to this day (I am 25 now) constantly feeling as though I need to watch everything I do. And as though my very presence is probably annoying someone, somewhere. I do not have kids, and I will admit to being annoyed by them on occasion when I am feeling shrewish. But I think if they are not being overtly rude or obnoxious, just let them be kids.

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