Movie theaters, restaurants and airplanes are three
places where you don't want to be caught with a screaming child.
Ellen Clayton, co-founder of the Etiquette School of Chicago, has
some pointers for parents to help keep kids calm when they are out
and about. Clayton is an etiquette expert certified by the American
School of Protocol in Atlanta and the Etiquette Institute in
What is the best way to quiet a child in a
I believe that you have to prepare ahead of time so
that you don't get to a point where you have to quiet them. That
would mean keeping them busy with whatever the latest hand-held
device parents use today. So I would tell somebody to be prepared.
You have to set your own expectations of what you can expect your
child to handle. You know what your child is capable of handling in
public places. Teach them young and they have it for
What are some mistakes parents make when
their children are upset?
[Parents] get upset. They start losing their cool.
They need to stay calm and set an example for their kids. That just
doesn't happen when you are out. You want to set that example at
home. You want to be calm at home and not allow things to escalate
at your house because when you are in public they will think,
'Well, this is normal; we can do this.'
What is the age to set those boundaries
with your child?
I would say at a very young age when they can talk
and understand that this [behavior] is not acceptable. My mother
was a public school teacher at the time when I was raising my kids.
She used that term in school and I remember using that phrase with
my kids. It's a big word for a 2-year-old, but they get
Why do you think children understand the
meaning of "that's not acceptable" even when they are
They understand by the parent's response - their
tone. They can sense the feelings of the parents.
In your opinion, why do people get upset
when someone else's baby is crying or throwing a fit in public?
What's the root of that emotion?
First of all, when you hear a kid crying or having
a meltdown, you feel sad. There is clearly something wrong. I think
you are more annoyed with the parent unless they are taking
responsibility and considering the people around them.
How does that change in a public place,
like a movie theater, where things are a bit more
Well, I think then you aren't looking at the child.
You are looking at the parent like they aren't very thoughtful and
considerate of other people around them. At the Etiquette School of
Chicago we teach to always pay attention to your surroundings to be
considerate of the people around you and always prepare for what
the situation might be.
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