Tonight on Oklahoma City's Channel 4 TV, newscaster Kevin Ogle's The Rant, was about a trend of some restaurants banning children under age 6. I can see both sides of this story. Although I can understand why kids get on other people's nerves, we will be handicapping a whole generation of children from not understanding how to behave and become "more civilized" if we exclude them from certain experiences. I am also reminded of a family I observed many times that ate out often at the same times we did. They had several children, who were not only extremely loud, but who also left behind some of the messiest table and floor areas I've ever seen eating out. Remember when John Belushi's character yelled "food fight"? This family left a similar environment. Except these children had been sitting with their oblivious parents. I think the restaurant would have been within their rights to ask them not to come back, but probably worried about the repercussions of such an action.
Through the years, I have observed many children unprepared and ill equipped for being out in public. When you take a child into the store after their bedtime, you cannot expect good behaviour. Children need routines. Children need limits.
Many times when I was working in Child Welfare, people told me they were afraid to discipline their children and make them mind. I always told them that Child Welfare was not saying they could not discipline their children, that all children need discipline, but their children shouldn't need medical treatment after the discipline. A lot of parents are using being afraid to discipline as a cop-out, instead of setting limits at a time when it is important in their child's development. Some parents fail to discipline because they are not disciplined themselves. It is difficult to do something you aren't doing for yourself.
The first time I took my grandchildren to the movies, I knew it would be a challenge. They were quite young. Their parents tried to tell me they were too young to go. But, I knew if I taught them limits that it would get easier, and it has. I knew the pleasure of the movie experience was going to be worth the effort it would take. I have now taken them to a number of movies, and we have a movie routine. We have now even progressed to the level that they are able to delay having a special treat until after the movie when we go to Sonic. Before we go to the movie, we discuss our choices: will we get something to snack on at the movie or will we wait and have something special afterwards? I did this on purpose to help them begin to learn delayed pleasure and because children need to learn how to make choices.