Quiet Kids? What?!

A few months ago I was enjoying a dinner of pho’ with my sister and Mom in Ballard, when I suddenly realized that there were four small children in the restaurant. It was a small place, and the fact that I was just noticing them surprised me. Why hadn’t I noticed them earlier? Because they were so quiet. They weren’t running around the restaurant, weren’t sliding under the table, and weren’t even talking loudly. Reflecting on this later I wondered, why are my children so loud? And why are they seemingly unable to conduct themselves in a restaurant or store in a polite, calm, quiet manner? Now to be fair, people have often commented on how well behaved my children are. But after a very raucous and frustrating 10 minute visit to Old Navy this afternoon, I’m wondering again: What do I need to do to teach my children to be calm and quiet in certain situations?
Do we need to do practice drills in stores- where the sole intention of the visit is to learn proper grocery store/ clothing store etiquette? I left Old Navy today SO frustrated. From the minute we walked in they were hiding under clothes racks, racing down aisles, fighting, crying you name it. Unfortunately, this isn’t a singular occurrence. We’ve had enough of these displays that I next to never go shopping with them. I’d rather do my grocery shopping at midnight than deal with the chaos that ensues when I take them. Which perhaps, is precisely the problem. Do they need more practice? As I’ve queried this over the months, I’ve come to realize that I see very few children in the grocery stores here in Seattle. And when I do see kids, I don’t remember seeing any running around as mine do. Maybe the problem is not as great as I think it is. Is my fixation just amplifying it? Maybe others’ have husbands/ or family/ or nannies they leave their kids home with. Or maybe, my children are just ill-bred! I’m beginning to wonder.
I’ll admit to lowering myself to the Santa Claus threat this afternoon. It had been a day of teasing, fighting, disobedience, screaming, whining. You know the days. Looking back they were quite calm and respectful in Joann Fabrics- granted we were looking at kids toys- so that was captivating. But at Old Navy, not so much. When we got in the car I let off a rant: “I am very frustrated! Your guys’ behavior in there was deplorable. You know, Santa Claus is watching. If. . . then. . . Threat. threat. threat.” I’m not proud of my response. Hence, this post. I’m really seeking strategies. Judging by the behavior of those calm, quiet children in the Vietnamese restaurant, it is possible for children to behave in public settings for extended periods of time. What do I need to do differently? What is the natural consequence for wrecking havoc while shopping?
All advice welcomed!


5 responses to “Quiet Kids? What?!”

  1. I’m sure you are doing a wonderful job as a mother. Kids each come with their own personalities and then brothers and sisters create a dynamic WITH one another. Those quiet children may just be quiet. I have a dear friend with 15 – yes – 15 children and all are quiet and well-behaved in public situations. Don’t beat yourself up. Just wait. They do grow up. And then all this trouble just goes away. And you will have good older kids. Who will still mess up and make mistakes, but honestly, I’m sure you aren’t missing some magic mothering formula. And I can’t tell you how often I’ve dreamed of that nanny to stay home with the kids, but now they are all in school and I can shop without them. Keep up the good work!

  2. I feel the same way about my 3 boys. I could’ve written this post. I think one thing is that I need to make sure they are feed and not tired. Also they are kids. We want them to be quiet and obedient but they are curious and outgoing and playful so they want to check out what’s at the grocery store and hide under the racks because it is fun and new and they are trying to navigate the world and learn. It’s hard to find the balance.

  3. I started giving my kids coupons at the grocery store: thus their job was to find that item on the shelves. Clearly, you have to give them cereal coupons in the cereal aisle, but the task gave them something to focus on and be helpful. IF you use coupons. . .

    • This is a great idea. We don’t use coupons, but I ‘m sure I could give them each a short list and hold them accountable for remembering and gathering the items. Thanks! (I got such a thrill seeing your name pop up!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *