you scream, we leave.

A restaurant in NC has a new “No Screaming Kids” policy.  If kids act up, the staff will ask parents to take their sprogs outside.

As a parent of two preschoolers, I fully support their policy.  When you spring for a restaurant meal, especially in this economy, you don’t want to be subjected to someone else’s kids throwing tantrums or using the restaurant as their personal playground.  If there’s anything at all about the article I find disagreeable, it’s this quote from an offended mom:

“I’ve never seen a restaurant say, don’t bring your screaming kids in here,” said Ashley Heflin, who is a mom of two. “You can’t help it if your kids scream.”

You know what, Ashleykins?  You sure as shit can.  If your kids scream their heads off in a restaurant, you don’t sit there and subject the other paying customers to the serenade.  You have the waiter doggy-bag your chow and get the hell out of there.  (Trust me, if you ask for your food to go when your kid is throwing a tantrum, the staff in most any restaurant will gladly pack up your food while you carry Junior out to the car.)

I don’t want to annoy people by implying that my kids are perfectly behaved angels, but you know how many times I’ve had them throw a tantrum in a restaurant?  If you guessed “zero”, award yourself the prize of your choice.  You know why that is?  Because I didn’t take them to restaurants when they were small enough to be prone to sudden screaming spells.  When they got old enough to communicate, they got to learn how to eat in restaurants with Daddy, but the first time they even started acting up, they were told in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t behave themselves, we’d be leaving the restaurant pronto, and not return for a very long time.  They like eating in restaurants, so–surprise!–they don’t act up.

Lastly, I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy a meal when their own kids are screaming at the very same table.  Why on Earth would you pay $20 a head for food and meals if you have to not only eat your meal to an infernal soundtrack, but also endure the hostile glances of the other guests?  If your kids are unable to control themselves due to age or experimental parenting, you’re not deprived of the ability to eat restaurant food.  There’s always take-out, curbside pickup, or the drive-through.

Good for you, Olde Salty restaurant.  Nobody has the right to have their kid spoil the meals of the sixty-five other paying patrons in the joint.


30 thoughts on “you scream, we leave.

  1. wfgodbold says:

    They need to post signs like that at movie theaters. And maybe a sign about kicking the chairs in front of you being grounds for removal, too.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      Oh, don’t get me started on people taking their wailing *infants* to an R-rated movie. You have responsibilities and obligations now…wait for the DVD release. Also, the boomy sounds from the speakers are probably not all that great for the ears of a three-month-old.

      • Jake says:

        There’s a reason my first time in a theater wasn’t until I was 6 – that’s when I was old enough to be capable of sitting quietly through an entire movie (and there was actually an age-appropriate movie playing in the single screen theater we had available – it was Return of the Jedi).

        Sadly, too many parents today don’t even have self-discipline, much less the ability to teach it to their kids.

        We transported a mom-and-kid after a very minor accident (slid off the road in a snowstorm – mom hit her head and wanted to be checked out), and her 2-3 year old threw such a screaming tantrum that he nearly worked his way out of our child-seat. The whole time mom was sitting there softly crooning “It’s okay, baby. Calm down, it’s not bad.” etc., etc., ad nauseam.

        I would have gotten spanked after the first 30 seconds if I had done that, even at 2. It would have made me stop, too. As it was, I wanted to smack her.

  2. alan says:

    I had the same policy with my daughter. Act up and we drop everything and leave no matter what.

    She always behaved.

  3. diane says:

    It simply amazes me (though by now it shouldn’t) that people need to be told these things – things that should be part of basic common sense and courtesy.

    Oh, wait – didn’t the government outlaw common sense a long time ago, and mandate that courtesy only applies to making other people accede to MY wishes? Nevermind, then.

  4. Joel says:

    People who won’t control their kids in restaurants infuriate me, and my wife felt the same way. When my daughter was a baby we rarely went out to eat at all without elaborate precautions. When she was old enough to respond to discipline (or at least recognize its existence) it was an ironclad rule: You act up, you get taken to the car by a father who’s VERY annoyed at missing his meal.

    She did it ONCE.

  5. gmomj says:

    I totally agree.
    I don’t even want to hear other patrons talking loudly, having long cell phone conversations or (ick) kissing while I am eating.
    Now if someone had a solution to wailing toddlers on aircraft that would be amazing.
    Maybe kid-free flights.
    I would pay extra to be seated next to a diaper-free silent adult.

  6. Ancient Woodsman says:

    Parents who let their kids scream at restaurants & movies also let them scream at home. Letting kids get away with any unacceptable behavior gives them the very clear message that they are in charge, not the parent. For those like that, discipline is old fashioned and perhaps a quaint concept.

    My son not only doesn’t scream at any table, he earns his parents wonderful compliments on his manners. But gee whiz, that’s work on our part. Like most things, the good stuff takes work.

  7. My kids have misbehaved in a restaurant exactly once…for exactly the reason you described. The food hadn’t even arrived, but it came it To Go boxes real quick, along with the check. And they didn’t get the ice cream that came with their kids meals.

    Now, as parents, we know to eat fast enough that the 18 month old doesn’t get bored…but we leave before he does. It helps that we know that he communicates that he’s done by pushing things onto the floor.

  8. divemedic says:

    What is worse is seeing what you see in tourist mecca Orlando. I have seen parents wheeling a stroller into a BAR at 1 in the morning. I have had parents ask me to watch my language in nightclubs. I had a parent get on me at a hockey game for telling someone next to me that a ref’s call was bullsh!t because she didn’t want her 10 year old to hear that sort of language.

    I am a firm believer that there is a time and a place for everything. Children are welcome at McDonalds and Chuck E Cheese. There are places where adults go to do and say adult things. Children are not welcome in bars and nightclubs.

  9. sheri says:

    Bravo, excellent post. A friend sent me here to this post. “Ashleykins.” HEH.

    I totally support the restaurant in this and hope more will follow suit.

    Gosh, my parents somehow managed to bring us up so that we ate in restaurants ALL THE TIME, and behaved ourselves. How on earth did she pull this off? We knew that when our parents said something they meant it, for starters.

    We were told in no uncertain terms that eating out was a very special privilege for CHILDREN and that CHILDREN who wanted to eat out must act like ADULTS the whole time or they would not be allowed to go anymore. Period.

    We LOVED eating out, so we damn well behaved. Reward for good behavior was getting to go to the restaurant again, next time. Act up and it was OVER.

    If the kid is too young to understand all that, you either get a sitter or yank the screamer out as soon as it starts (with or without a doggie-bag, I say). This tantrum thing has become far too widely “tolerated” and it really shouldn’t be. Maybe the pendulum will start to swing back a little the other way, toward that quaint old custom “consideration of others.”

  10. Wraith says:

    Marko, I’m confused. You’re not only considering the sensibilities of those around you, but you’re actually raising productive, respectful citizens!

    Don’t you know that’s not how we do things in America? Where’s the total disregard for anything and anyone but yourself that the system has tried so hard to innoculate you with? How can you even think of having standards of behavior for your children?

    This kind of thing makes hippies cry. 🙂

  11. Rey B says:

    I seldom comment and don’t want to sound like the Amen Chorus but OH Yeah! My children learned at an early age that making noise in a restaurant resulted in a trip to the car and no more eating out for some time. My sister was greatly offended on the other hand when I told her perfect son to knock off his crap or he was going out to the car with me. He believed it and I got to enjoy my meal.

  12. Al Terego says:

    Errant behavior in ANY public setting was immediately corrected with just eye contact when my kids were young. That’s all it takes when polite and respectful deportment is explained, required, and enforced beginning at the beginning.

    That said, I’ll take a whiny brat at the next table over a loud, half-drunk, obnoxious adult of any age or either gender…or worse, a table full of them as is almost inevitable at any restaurant at any time here in Heaven’s waiting room.

    Find a place with a policy to yank those assholes out of their seats and toss them and their doggy bag out the door, and I’m there.


  13. john m says:

    Bravo Marko. I work for a foodservice distributor. I am quoting the article you linked to in your blog in my weekly marketing message to the sales force. Maybe this policy can become more widespread.

  14. og says:

    Our daughter was pretty good in restaurants from about seven, before that we left her with sitters on the rare occasions we got to go out.

    We had one incident where she decided to act out in public, it was a mall, I believe, and there was some game she wanted, and decided to throw a tantrum to get.

    As you say, “In no uncertain terms”, she did not get her way, and we left the mall that instant; we were not put on earth to be her friends, we are her parents, and we act accordingly.

    I can’t enjoy ANYTHING when ANY kind of screaming is going on.


  15. […] has a no screaming rugrats policy. I would eat there gladly with my kids. Amazing to me that people say they can’t control […]

  16. perlhaqr says:

    That was totally my money quote for the article too.

    My thought on reading it was “Well, maybe you can’t, but my Dad sure as hell never had any problem with that task.”

    If I started screaming in a restaurant, he’d have taken me outside so fast I wouldn’t have even seen the walls on the way out. (Then he’d have plunked me in the car and sat there with me, ignoring me while I made a scene. His theory was that an audience only encouraged such behaviour. It seems to have worked. 😉 )

    Some of the behaviour I’ve seen out of children in recent times would have not only ensured I left the restaurant at a rapid clip, but that I didn’t get to go back to one for years, either.

    Worst behaviour I can recall: a woman (presumably the mother) sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant while three kids ran in circles around the table hooting and hollering. Everyone was staring at her. She did nothing. I have to admit, I was so aghast I couldn’t even think of anything to say.

  17. Guy S says:

    This is right on the money. Kids are not little adults, waiting for their physical and emotional sides to catch up with their (supposed) adult intellect. They are children, who with the guidance of their parents (and other adults) will, in time, become same. Part of that “training” involves being instructed how to conduct oneself while out in public. My ex wife and I did it for our three boys and they appear to be (surprisingly enough) more than able to function properly in society. If they acted up while at a restaurant after the first (and only warning) they were taken out to the car and addressed there. To my memory, this only happened once. Just a few short years after that incident, we were dining out, had just finished our meal, the ex took the boys to the car while I went to settle the bill. An older couple who were sitting adjacent to us, pulled me aside and commented on how very polite and well mannered our two sons were. They went on to say how refreshing it was to see in this day and age of screaming children. After blushing, I thanked them for their kind words, and proceeded to take care of the bill.

    May you and yours be as fortunate (and lucky) in both the raising of your children, and (though it was not expected or even hoped for) positive feed back on how they (eventually) turn out.

  18. breda says:

    Can we please have this policy in libraries too?

  19. Justthisguy says:

    I think of mom26children, who has just changed her blog name to

    She has six kids, five of whom are more or less autistic. Nonetheless, she has taught all of them to behave correctly in public. As Temple Grandin, a famous autistic person said, formal manners in public are important. This helps us to avoid deadly fights.

    • Justthisguy says:

      P.s. If a woman with nearly half a dozen autistic kids can get them to act kinda normal in public, I get horribly exercised at parents who let their presumably-normal kids just run wild.

  20. Al Terego says:

    Completely unrelated, but I guess those twitts are on the margin for a reason, so I have to ask…

    “Have a good flight. Remember, keep equal the number of take-offs and landings.”

    Joke or pop reference?


  21. RevolverRob says:

    No screaming kids, great idea, I love it! I’ve long felt a restaurant could have me as a loyal customer if they had a “no family” section, for couples and single people. I’ve asked hosts to not sit the lady and I in a section between three tables of parents with children in tow. It’s not that I am anti-family, it’s that I’m anti-screaming children dinner interruptions. I’ve chosen, personally, to not have children, I appreciate it when great parents keep their kids from ruining my experiences with temper tantrums and screaming. I realize kids will be kids to a degree, but I also remember being a kid (it wasn’t that long ago). Discipline goes a long way. I go out of my way to compliment people with great parenting skills and discipline, because I really appreciate it.

    The “no screaming kids” movie theater policy is also great. A local chain of dinner serving, movie loving, theaters here are the best of the best. First, no children under 17 are admitted after 10pm, even with adult supervision. To general shows in the evenings, no children under 8 are admitted, even with parental supervision, they simply do not admit them, even to “children’s movies”. Instead, the theater makes it clear they prefer to cater to adult patrons, but for those who have children and want to patronize the theater, shows before 6 pm are all audiences, and shows before 3 pm, people with children get discounted tickets. This is also a theater that enforces a strict no talking/texting/tweeting/being annoying during the movie policy. The policy is very strict, one warning, then they pause the movie, public embarrass you and eject you from the theater. They always get my money, because they want you to have a great experience free from the selfish distractions and interruptions of self-centered, oblivious, rude, people.


  22. mike w. says:

    “You can’t help it if your kids scream.”

    WTF woman? You sure as hell can, and if you can’t then you pick them up and walk out of the restaurant.

    Why should everyone else have to suffer?

  23. […] But one story I will link to is from Marko, and I have to say, after that long flight back from Hawaii, bravo. My parents took the same approach, and even when we were older, it was mostly Imperial Pizza for the family. No fancy places for us. […]

  24. Carl says:

    People are funny creatures. If they posted a sign saying “Disruptive Diners Will Be Asked To Leave,” not a comment in the world would be made… isn’t it obvious that disruptive clientele is not welcome in a business? And isn’t it also obvious that a screaming kid is disruptive?

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