How to know when to take your screaming child out of public place to calm them down

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How to know when to take your screaming child out of public place to calm them down? The answer depends on your self-awareness and sympathy for others. If you lack both, then it comes down to how much the community can take. If your child is screaming at a diner, how much time passes before you pick them up and take them outside to calm them down?

1) 1 minute
2) 2 minutes
3) 5 minutes
4) 10 minutes
5) 15 minutes
6) 20 minutes
7) 30 minutes

Unfortunately, there’s no correct response (but if you chose options 5-7 then I’m afraid we can’t be friends).

A recent incident in a busy Maine diner highlighted the need for a more collective conscience. Depending on whose story you believe, a 20 month old child was screaming for between 15-40 minutes in a diner packed with customers.


However loud or whether the parents attempted to calm the child isn’t clear, what’s clear is that the parents didn’t take the child outside after at least 15 minutes of crying. The question is “at what point is it okay for the community to step in?”

Like subway etiquette, you can ask ten different people as to what the right behavior is and receive ten different answers. There’s no hard and fast rules. However, the most-liked comments on a NYT’s Facebook post about the subject agree with the owner of the diner:

If my kid is making me too uncomfortable to remain in a restaurant, I remove him. Sitting around at a table indefinitely with a child making an entire restaurant uncomfortable is rude and unseemly.


As a patron of many restaurants, if you bring your child into the restaurant where I’m paying to have a meal and that child is screaming and disrupting my meal, and you don’t take the child out of the restaurant, there’s something wrong with you as a person and not just as a parent.

If you let your child pitch a fit for an extended period, ruining the dining experience of everyone else in the establishment then you are not suitable to be a parent. (I am a parent)

As a parent I agree with the owner of the diner. Control your children or leave. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. Put your phone down, stop ignoring your child, and be a parent.

With all due respect, Ms. Carson, you’re dead wrong. Used to be that if you wanted to take your kid(s) to a restaurant, parents had an expectation of acceptable behavior. The onus, ma’am, is on you to control your child’s behavior. Everyone else in the place came to have a (relatively ) quiet meal.

Now I don’t justify Darla Neugebauer’s tactics, but I understand.

“I slammed my hands on the counter and said, ‘This needs to stop,’ meaning her screaming, and I pointed at her … And she looked at me and she stopped. And her parents said, ‘Are you screaming at a child?’ ‘Yes I am. And she shut up.’

I especially understand if the reported “40 minutes” of screaming was the actual time spent dealing with a wailing child. That’s a long time to put up with a child in non-airplane situations with the parents sitting there, sharing the wealth.

In my experience, most all people have a lot of patience when it comes to controlling small children. Many annoyed patrons would never say anything no matter how bad, but some people have shorter fuses, but there’s a fuse nonetheless.

The good news is the community works both ways on this topic. The subject of children and parenting is extremely sensitive, so if you get chided for your child’s behavior and no one stands up for you, well, then do better next time.


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