Is it Acceptable for a Stranger to Shout at Your Child?

Anyone who knows me knows that despite me having a very strong willed toddler I don’t accept naughty behaviour and I always make sure my little girl knows her boundaries and behaves when we are out and about. I praise her for good behaviour and we use time out and other tactics such as no treats, toys, TV etc for bad behaviour. So you can probably understand me being upset when a stranger shouts at my two year old child in public and then attacks my parenting skills!

I recently met up with two friends in a family pub. We all have two children, toddlers aged two and babies between 4 months and 11 months so we wanted somewhere child friendly to have lunch and a nice chat.

When I arrived one of my friends was already there and had picked a table at one end of the pub that was quiet anyway and where there was only one other couple seated nearby.

Whilst we were there two couples (who I would say were in their 50’s and 60’s) came in and sat across the room from us and behind me. As I had my back to them I hadn’t even noticed them.

When the children had finished their meals my friends kids got down from the table and started running around our small area of the room giggling with each other. My daughter remained at the table but looked a little left out, so as it was quiet in the pub I gave her permission to get down from the table and join in.

Admittedly they were a little loud, not shouting, just giggling with one another. We did tell them to calm down and be quiet and after only a couple of minutes of them playing my friend was stood up and about to go and bring them back across to our table when the incident that has stunned me happened!

We were finishing the brief conversation we were having when one of the men that had sat down across the room suddenly shouted very loudly and aggressively at our children to “Be quiet and sit down because they couldn’t hear themselves talk”. He shouted so loud that not only did he make our children burst into tears, but he actually made me jump!

My friend said to the man that there was no need for him to shout at two year olds like that and him and his wife proceeded to tell us how they were being unruly and obviously didn’t listen to us.

We gathered our children and sat them back at the table, all of us sat in stunned silence, yet quietly seething that someone could be so nasty to three small children.

I eventually stood up and walked across to the table where the group were sat. This is quite out of character for me as I tend to avoid conflict in public. However this had really upset and annoyed me. I apologised for any disturbance our children may have caused and said I understood their point but stated that it was unacceptable to shout in such an aggressive and nasty manner at two year olds like that. I said that had they politely come across to our table and asked us to get them to be quiet we would have happily taken action sooner. (Even though they had only been playing for a few minutes.)

The man who had initially shouted didn’t actually argue much but his wife piped up again and started criticising us as parents. I walked away and then she started shouting across the room questionning our parenting skills, saying our children obviously didn’t listen to us, we had no control over them and her kids would have never dreamed of behaving like that.

This was like a red rag to a bull for me! How dare she criticise me? She doesn’t know me? My kid is two years old and was giggling and having fun with her friends. The pub has 3 sections to it and was empty! There were 4 other sets of people in the whole pub yet they chose to come and sit by our table and then complain! I turned around as she was mouthing off and shouted at her that regardless of what she thought about us it was totally unacceptable to shout at two year olds like that, end of!

At this point the manager, who knows us well, stepped in and went to their table suggesting that they may like to move elsewhere, to which they declined and stubbornly stayed put.

The whole episode really ruined what was a nice catch up with friends and instead of having our dessert we were about to order we paid up and left.

On leaving I apologised to the manager if our children had been loud and said I understood where the table were coming from but they should have just approached us or her to ask them to be a bit quieter rather than so aggressively shouting at our children. The bar manager actually said that the man had been out of order and that it was a family pub after all. She said he chose to sit where he did out of a pub that has lots of seating in different areas and was practically empty. She said not to worry and we were welcome there anytime. She said please don’t let it put you off. I thought this was very kind and nice of her and it made me feel better to know that this man had obviously totally over-reacted and that others hadn’t seen a problem.

Prior to having children I admit, I was possibly judgmental of others. I had a low tolerance to excessive noise, bad behaviour or tantrums. We can’t all understand others 100%, we all have our own views and opinions and that’s what shapes society. However as a parent now I am more understanding. I know the difference between bad behaviour and fun loving children. I have seen bad parenting and those that let their children get away with anything and be unruly and know that’s certainly not me. I’m not saying my child is an angel, she can have the most spectacular tantrums and be stubborn as hell, but I take action and I understand the right and wrong ways to approach something.

I have been in situations in soft play centers where parents blatantly for the entire time they are there pay little attention to their children and their behaviour, choosing instead to read a magazine, be on their phone or chat with their friends. Whilst their toddler is repeatedly battering another innocent child around the head! On such occasions I have politely said to the child in question, “no please don’t do that, that’s not nice.” However I have NEVER shouted at someone elses child. Not even one of my friends children.

If this woman had children herself she should have probably been more understanding, patient and known how to deal with the situation appropriately. Instead her and her husband / partner showed total ignorance, lack of tolerance and aggression towards others. Great traits for raising children don’t you think???

Have you experienced anything like this? What are your views? Is it acceptable for a stranger to shout at your child? Would you shout at another person’s child? I’d love to hear your comments.




  1. We were in Morrisons last week with Ted and he was crying…a check out woman told him to stop moaning…hes 6months old! I think its totally unacceptable to shout at a child that isn’t your own unless in a school or nursery setting where the child is being naughty and even then its not right to shout. I agree, even if the child was hurting Ted I wouldn’t shout I would probably pull Ted away and say ‘Oh dear that is really not nice’ and then speak with thier parent. They are children and aggression breeds aggression.

  2. No it is not. (Rescuing a child from harm – yes).

  3. Personally I think it was the couple who were behaving unacceptably. Why you would choose to sit next to a bunch of kids when you clearly have no time for them is beyond me. Unfortunately people can be very selfish and not willing to look at the view from any angle but their own. Good for you for telling them what for, I’d have done the same xx

  4. Wow! My blood is boiling on your behalf, Im so glad you stood up for yourself! I find that generation sometimes is a bit out dated with their views on parenting, it seems they thought it was acceptable to shock and bully their children in to compliance, Im sometimes have to remind my own mum and MIL that things have moved on since their day. Family friendly pub means your children were welcome to be there and be themselves, what a shame the manager didn’t remind the older couple of that! It’s horrible when you have to face that but you set your babies a good example by standing your ground but also doing it the right way :)
    I over heard an elderly gentleman tell his wife in a cafe the other day that the mum on another table who was maybe 40 at most, was too old to have children that small and that’s why she couldn’t control them! I he kept smiling and chatting to my little girl and felt like saying “guess what, Im 36 am I to old then?!” I wish I had, looks can be deciding eh? It’s just old fashioned nonsense! X x

    • amummysview says:

      Exactly! It’s the same generation that give me hacky looks and nasty comments when I park in a disabled bay with my badge. So judgmental! and apparently the younger generation are the ones without manners??? x

  5. Lauren Purdy says:

    I would have been fuming if that was me!! It was totally out of order.

    I have nothing against people speaking to other children in the right circumstances. I had to do it myself last week. BUT his mother wasn’t around (I had already spoken to her about the kids – long story). However, I didn’t raise my voice, I just spoke to him. He is probably 7 or 8 so old enough to know what is right or wrong. He said sorry and the problem didn’t happen again.

    If the parents are there, you speak to them. Especially when the children are young. Some of the older generation seem to hate children and use every excuse to show that. But as you and others have said, they shouldn’t have sat so close if it was empty elsewhere. Grrr makes me angry!!

    Lauren x

    • amummysview says:

      It has rattled my cage ever since, I’ve had to blog to vent it and not often I do blog rants! lol! well said, thanks honey x

    • I feel the same. I have a neighbor with children. I will not call her a mother. The children throw acorns at my home. Th adults laugh. Only when the patent isn’t around should you address the child. I did raise my voice. The kids are not small, but 11-14yrs. The third time I say stop vandalizing means juvenile hall. My insurance is high enough.
      I don’t like how ppl act like they never had an active toddler. Did they sedate their children? All six of mine couldn’t sit still until seven, which is developmental correct. I’m prone to being loud (laughing/talking). I hate going out where I know someone will chime in about our large family dinner. I hope you find a more kid friendly spot!

  6. In a family pub I really don’t see the couples issue… This is so random but I remember when I was at school, I was in the last year and my cousin was in the first. We were in the playground and the dinner lady told him to keep it down, I remember looking at her and saying, it’s a playground?!! – some people just don’t understand children lol

    About the play centers, it infuriates me when the parents of the ‘bully children’ just let them do whatever, I take my niece and nephews to soft play centers and I am always on the look out. I try the gentle ‘that’s not nice’ thing too but once a much bigger kid made my eldest nephew fly head first down a slide and I see red. My nephew got straight up, he was 3, the kid who shoved him was easily 8 or 9 and shouldn’t have been playing in the toddlers bit anyway. My nephew got up squared up to him, it was quite funny, he’s brave! The 8 year old then looked at him and gestured ‘look how big I am to you’ and that’s when I ran over and gave him the death glare and grabbed my nephew, his parents did nothing, an 8/9 year old shoving a 3 year old, it’s not right but I never shouted at the kid regardless of how much I thought he deserved a clump off of someone bigger lol

    • amummysview says:

      well said! I had a little girl follow me and my eldest around a soft play when she was a baby. she got the walker my baby was in and rammed it against the side of the soft play, she threw balls from the ball pool at us and nearly pulled me in it backwards! she was quite weird and a bit scary! My mum and I just got my little girl and left, the parents were nowhere to be seen! she terrorized a few other kids too. x

  7. It was completely unreasonable what they did – they should have approached you first!
    I have been known to have words with other people’s children in the soft play situations you described above or if not with parents and much older (I had to break up a fight a few weeks back outside my house), but generally I am very relaxed about these things.
    Children can be boisterous things and the days are long gone of seen and not heard!!

  8. Oh yeah I’ve been subjected to that. I do tend to take the moral high ground by talking extra politely to my children and saying things like “m, this man here is having a problem with you enjoying yourself, could you please do a/b/c so he can calm down”. Once in a cathedral (where we studying the history, not praying) a church busybody screamed at my kids to take their hats off, so I calmly explained to her that in our culture wearing hats showed respect to god, and btw shouldn’t she have her head covered in church according to her bible and Thankyou ever so much for putting my kids off Christianity for life. Saved me a job. But moral high ground is much more satisfying. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s them.

    • amummysview says:

      lol I like your style. My friend actually said something like that to her daughter in the hope they would hear. x

  9. Oh I would like to give the couple a piece of my mind! gggrrrr!!!!

    I rarely have to speak up for my son as we taught him to stand up for himself n defense himself when needed. I have however speak in a low, calm n threatening tone plus a smile on my face to older kids who are being a nuisance in the public or hurting some other younger kids hahahaha~

    • amummysview says:

      well that’s it. sometimes you have to say no to kids who are behaving wrong and their parents aren’t about but two year olds giggling for a matter of minutes and to shout like that is just shocking! x

      • Yupe. And I applause you for walking up to the table n tell them off in a calm way. I would hv scold them there n then.

        • amummysview says:

          I was shaking and calmly walked away when I had finished ut then when she started shouting across the room at me I did snap back! lol! x

  10. That is AWFUL!!! They had no right at all to do that and certainly not for a MAN to bellow at a small girl!! That is ridiculous – in this day and age I’m surprised they had the nerve to do it, you could have made more of it!!

    Like others have said – large empty pub, sit somewhere else if you can clearly see a table full of small children. If you choose not to, thats your problem.

    I’m glad you stood up for the children and yourself – at least that way the kids can see that the man was in the wrong for shouting at them. Something like that could be extremely damaging to a young childs confidence. I think I would have died if someone had shouted at me like that as a child.

    What a horrible old couple. I hope they’re really ashamed of themselves.

    • amummysview says:

      thank you lovely. I was shaking when I stood up as it’s not like me but I couldn’t just sit there. My friends little girl was still upset at bedtime last night apparently :-( Poor thing! x

  11. Hmmm. I have been in the situtation where parents have let their kids run absolutely wild and distrub everyone in sight as they causally sip a beverage. Even then I don’t yell… I have the option of going to the parents or ignoring it. It’s a public place not my home.

    However if a adult was harming a child…I am there in a minute.

    I work in a bar and grill and I have purchased a bucket of coloring books and colors. While we don’t bill ourselves as a family place…children still come. When I seat a group with kids the first thing I do is bring out my “bucket of fun” and let the kids enjoy themselves. Seems to make everyone happy.

    • amummysview says:

      Totally agree. If kids are going crazy, the place is busy and it goes on with no one doing anything then fine say something, but to the parents. However this was a few minutes and we were about to go get them to sit back down. They had actually been colouring in, the landlady had brought some sheets and crayons across, they’d just finished what they were doing. I think crayons etc to keep kids entertained are a great idea as they are young and do get restless easily x

  12. Some people are just bullies, plain and simple, and I think often their lives are a bit crap and they try to make themselves feel better by bringing everyone else down to their level. I’m sure their home life is everything they deserve…

  13. Generally not and certainly not as happened to you. I think there’s a place for shouting at another person’s child if it was to warn them of danger or something similar. However, in most cases, I think shouting is rude, arrogant, bossy, etc. and there are much better ways of dealing with people whether they are adults or children.

  14. Always a difficult and controversial one that really depends on the situation, but I have shouted at other peoples children along with my own, not specifically directed at them, if they have all been misbehaving. Good post!

    • amummysview says:

      I think if they are misbehaving or fighting then to tell them no is totally justified, but on this occasion to shout at three 2 year olds for laughing and having fun without thinking to approach us first I think was the wrong approach. There’s no way they would have done it if our husbands were there x

      • Mallory says:

        Did it ever occur to you that ‘family friendly’ does not mean ‘let your kids run around’? I was a server at a family friendly restaurant and there was nothing more obnoxious than kids running around like animals while we were trying to work. It doesn’t matter if it’s slow, wait staff still have to walk around, often carrying hot items, plates, etc. Your kids ‘laughing and having fun’ is playground activity, never okay in a restaurant. He shouldn’t have yelled at the kids, they rely on their parents to set boundaries. He should have yelled at you. I like kids just fine, it’s the entitled, selfish parents I can’t stand.

        • A Mummy's View says:

          oooooohhhhh Thank you for your view of me as a selfish parent. I can firmly tell you that I am far from that and if you took the time to read the rest of my blog you would see that. The pub was EMPTY bar the one table. Our kids were not getting in the way of serving staff and as a very responsible parent had they been I would have stopped them immediately. They weren’t running around for very long and as I stated in my post we were just about to go and get them to sit back down when it happened, as we are very responsible parents thank you very much. But thanks for taking them time to ‘attempt’ to dress me down and label me as a selfish parent publicly as everyone is entitled to their own view, hence me approving your comment :-)

  15. Funny you should mention this as was at soft play earlier this week when a little boy (about 6 months older than R) whacked him very deliberately around the head , turning around first to check nobody was looking! I didn’t do anything immediately but waited to see what R would do. He put his arm up to shield himself and did nothing else so the boy continued to him round the head. In the absence of the boy’s parents I walked over (I was on the other side of the soft play netting) and said in a very strong voice “No! Stop hitting. That’s not nice”. The boy stopped, looked a bit aghast to be told off my a stranger and started sulking. I then pulled R out and said if someone hits you it’s ok for you to tell them to stop, then he went back to play. His Mum eventually came over, I told her I’d told him to stop, she was apologetic and said she’d pull him out to talk to him in a min and that was that. I did raise my voice but didn’t shout and don’t feel my behaviour was unjustified. However, in your case, I think you did the right thing. People have the right to have lunch in peace but that’s definitely not the right way to deal with it i.e. by shouting at toddlers who are just having fun. So I think it depends what it’s for. I’d be ok with someone raising their voice at R if he started wallaping another child and for whatever reason I didn’t see but not if he tried to chat to them or was laughing too much, etc. I also think some people are just grumpy! I was in Morrisons the other day and R was crying in the buggy, again an elderly couple turned, stared and tutted. I was stressed enough as it was so just said “Yes? It’s a child crying” and went on my way but I was really annoyed…it’s a supermarket FFS (you don’t exactly go there to enjoy yourself)! *rant over* x x x

    • amummysview says:

      lol. Yes, been there too! On both counts! I think you are right in what you did at the soft play. x

      • Thanks hun. Often I act on instinct and then think about a better way I could have dealt with it when I get home but it’s tough when someone upsets your child (adult or other child) and hard to be totally logical all the time. Some people just stink! 😉

        • amummysview says:

          me too! Although I am better at it than I used to be thank god! lol. yes, you’re right, they stink! 😉 x

  16. I have a feeling it doesn’t matter how old this couple was, they have probably been like this all of their lives. They were clearly out of line and I too am glad that you told them how you felt. I am a grandmother and would be horrified if anyone ever yelled at my grandchildren.

  17. Im with you, it is a family pub and once children have finished eating you cannot expect them to sit like little adults because they are not. Shouting at somebodies child unless that shout is a startled reaction to something dangerous that child is about to do then no it is not acceptable.
    I would have been annoyed as well, hopefully as you have challenged them they may just think about doing it again.
    I do have to say though that Victor Meldrew accurately portrays men of that age, but not making excuses.

    • amummysview says:

      Lol! Totally agree! I think we has was just a bully and wasn’t expecting our reaction back. his wife was just all mouth… Thanks honey x

  18. That’s totally unacceptable! How dare they shout at your kid! Whenever I have unruly kids in the library- and they’re with their parents- I nicely ask the moms to make their kids behave. We should respect each other and not cross boundaries.

    • amummysview says:

      Totally agree and if someone had asked me to ask them to be quieter I would have (well like I say we were about to go over and bring them back anyway). Thanks honey x

  19. Well said. It is absolutely unacceptable for a stranger to shout at your child! They really should have spoken to either you or the to manager if they were really unhappy with the noise level. This happens why too much. It’s almost like people purposely place themselves near children so they can complain! I have had a fair fee ‘tuts’ and head shaking over my kids just simply being kids. And like you, I think I have them pretty well under control, but they are KIDS!!! And it’s not like you were in a fancy restaurant, a family pub means just that – for FAMILIES!! As you can probably tell, I am seething and it didn’t even happen to me. I think you handled it really well xx

  20. I don’t think it is ever acceptable for a stranger to shout at your children. Any decent person if they had a problem with your child should come to you and speak to you about it, the way they shouted across the room sounds like they are more childish than your 2 year old!!!

  21. I feel your pain. I was at a McDonald’s a few months ago with my older son who is 19 and my then 1 year old toddler. The McDonald’s we went to had those video games by the booth so kids could keep busy. My 1 year old was having fun with it and of course got a little excited and loud. This woman told me to make him stop and that I should teach him how to be good. What?!? That totally peeved me off! My kid is one and we’re in McDonald’s!!! Anyway… she received a few words from me AND the restaurant manager. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us @ My Favorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party!

    The Wondering Brain

  22. I have to say I would go mental if another adult shouted at any of my kids – even if they had done something wrong. Pretty hypocritical of me to be honest, as I have in the past ‘had a go’ at other kids who have wronged mine.

    Very difficult situation really. Great post.

    • amummysview says:

      Thanks honey. I think if a kid does something to your child that is bad and no parent around or willing to tell them not too then that’s justified but this guy was just insane.

  23. Family pub does not equal playground. The older couple shouldn’t have yelled, but as the mother, you should have been more sensitive towards the possibility that the kids may have been disturbing the other patrons without them needing to bring their issues up to you directly. I get the sense that had they politely approached you, that you would have argued with them, told them it was a family pub and to go sit somewhere else (all things you brought here in this post).

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