REALITY CHECK: 64% of adults now favor “kid free zones” in restaurants, theaters, and planes. Time for an honest check – how are your kids behaving in public?
You’ve spruced up the kiddos for a family night out at a restaurant. You intentionally chose one that hascloth tablecloths and fresh flower arrangements figuring it would not only be a fun family memory but also a great way to teach your kids manners and the fine art of dining. But here’s a friendly hint: You just might want to call the restaurant to verify that your kids can dine with you.
These days you can’t be too sure. A growing business trend now bans kids – especially those under six-from their services.
Why the ban? That’s what Ann Curry asked me last week on the TODAY show. Here is what every parent in America needs to know before walking out the door these days with the kids.
What’s With The Growing No Kid Movement?
The “No Kid Zone” movement appears to be a slowly, growing trend that is not just limited to restaurants.
Luxury resorts, hotels, yoga retreats, certain hotels, movie theaters, and shows (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for one) have banned kids at given times or altogether.
Malaysian Airlines was the first to ban babies from first class; British Airways and Virgin Airlines are considering a similar policy.
Whole Foods has begun offering “Kid-Free” shopping hours for customers.
The top reason is simple: Customers are fed up with ill-mannered kids (not our kids, for Pete’s sake – we’re talking about those at the other table!) and requesting “adult only” venues. Businesses are taking those complaints seriously.
The trend is not limited to America and is not recent. I was first interviewed about this issue a few years ago from Vancouver, Canada. Restaurant owners were concerned there about ill-behaved children who were ruining the dining experience for their customers. Restaurants in Singapore are now announcing “no kid” zones as well.
What’s more, it appears that the majority of adults support the kid ban.
A Pittsburgh TV news channel recently polled over 10,000 adults as to their take on the “no kid movement.” Sixty four percent of those polled supported the “under six” ban compared with twenty-six percent who said it was a bad idea. Ten percent said they didn’t care.
In fact, over the last decade more and more adults are voicing their concerns about bad kid behaviors.
Here is just a sample of adult perceptions about child behavior these days:
- Nearly two out of three parents surveyed said their kids measure self-worth more by possessions than their parents did at the same age. [TIME/CNN poll]
- Eighty percent of adults think kids today are more spoiled than kids of 10 or 15 years ago. And what’s more: two-thirds of parents admit that their kids are spoiled.
- Only 12 percent of the two thousand adults polled felt that kids commonly treat others with respect; most described them as “rude,” “irresponsible,” and “lacking in discipline.” [AOL-Time Warner]
Parent Checkist for Taking Kids Out in Pubic
Now this doesn’t mean there aren’t any good kids left in the world, of course there are. In fact, studies suggest that this generation is volunteering more than ever before. This “no kid ban” also has a number of parents screaming, “Unfair.” And with reason – after all, their kids are well-mannered, behave well in public and do benefit from those family evenings out.
But let’s stay focused on the crisis at hand. The “Kid Brat Factor” is there. The “No Kid Zone” movement is growing, and it won’t go away until we decide it’s a big enough problem to do something about.
Our first step is just a little reminder to all parents. Let’s make sure that when we do take our kids out in public they are behaved. After all, the best way to turn adults perceptions around is to witness polite, well-mannered kids.
Here is my “Checklist for Taking the Kids Out” that I shared on TODAY show last week that might help us all.
P.S. I’d suggest mentally going through all four of these factors before venturing out with the kids.
Practice at Home
Kids learn manners and behavior best at home. So practice! Use those family meals or watching a movie together as an opportunity to observe your children’s behavior as well as tuning up those etiquette essentials such as “Please!”, “Excuse me,” and putting the napkin in her lap. If your child has an exorcism at your table or can’t get through a ten-minute dinner of macaroni and cheese, hold off on taking her to the Ritz.
When you do take the kids out, be considerate of the patrons. It’s their evening out as well and they should expect to enjoy themselves. Ask the waiter to seat you at a more “removed” table. Seat in the theatre near the aisle so you can take a quick exit. And if your kids do misbehave in public let them know ahead of time that you will escort them out. (And follow through!!!)
Use Meltdown Minimizers
While there is no guarantee, we can use a few techniques that minimize those kid meltdowns. So think these four items that increase the likelihood of misbehaving through prior to walking out the door.
- Fatigue: Sleepy, stressed-out or just tired children are more likely to be cranky. Period. They also have a harder time using the brakes on their own impulses. So make sure your child has had that nap prior to taking her out. Gauge his irritability level before dressing him up.
- Hunger: Expecting to eat at six and not being seated until eight can be taxing for anyone –especially a hungry kid. So ensure the reservation. And just in case, bring a snack. Be ready!
- Boredom: Waiting to be served can seem endless for a child. So bring along something to keep your child entertained – “just in case.” Just make sure the product is quiet and self-contained (you don’t want to pick up magic markers all over the floor or pay for the white tablecloth that now has your little munchkin’s scribbles.
- Expectations: Is the place you’re taking your child developmentally appropriate? Is this experience “worth it” for everyone in the family? Have you described before walking in the behavior you expect from him? The right parental expectations that are spelled out clearly to a child before going out always help curb those meltdowns.
Take a Reality Check
Be honest! Could your child be in need of a behavior makeover?
I know this is hard to admit, but the majority of adults out there are complaining because kids are behaving badly. “Not my kid! A big brat? Never!” It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating, it’s the crisis we all dreaded might occur with our own sons and daughters.
Remember, there are no genes for bratty behavior. This is learned!! But it also can be unlearned!
Look for my next blog: The 10 Kinds of Brats… Could one of them be your child? If so, it’s time for a makeover! And from the polls it appears a number of adults would be cheering you on.
These tips are from my book, Don’t Give Me That Attitude: 24 Rude, Selfish, Insensitive Things Kids Do and How to Stop Them!
You can also refer to my daily blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check for ongoing parenting solutions and late-breaking news and research about child development.