General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

How rude is it to correct other people's children's behavior?

Asked by tinyfaery (42373points) May 17th, 2009 from iPhone

I’m talking about in public.

As I sit here waiting for Star Trek to start, I am pondering the very rude behavior of children these days. While I was waiting in line for popcorn some kid just walked about an inch in front of me to reach across the counter to get napkins. No excuse me or anything.

I bite my tongue during moments like this. It seems to me people are very lax about teaching manners to their children these days. I so want to correct these behaviors. I just want to say, “hey kid, can you please say excuse me next time?” Not to be rude, just to let it be known that such behaviors are inappropriate.

Now, I am a former crisis counselor and case manager, so I have this instinct to try to correct behavior. Is it wrong to just do it at the movies, for instance.

Do you bite your tongue? How rude would it be to address the child and/or parent about ill-manners?

My parents would never have abided such behavior in public.

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65 Answers

Ivan's avatar

Sorry, but you shouldn’t impose your generation’s manners onto the next generation. These sorts of arbitrary rules become archaic real fast.

Aethelwine's avatar

If the child’s parent is nowhere to be seen, I see nothing wrong with saying something. The sad part about it is he/she will probably just ignore you.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

This one example is a bit extreme… but you would not be unfounded in saying something. Even if his parents aren’t instilling those manners, it never hurts to have society instill them to some degree.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I hate how people let their brats be ill-mannered little twits. And then I think, “Wait, this little shit will end up on Court TV someday to entertain me in my old age.”

Seriously though, when I was growing up, if I behaved badly, any adult within earshot was allowed to correct me. Alas, those days are gone, because it’s not the ‘progressive’ way to be.

tinyfaery's avatar

I wasn’t aware that manners and being polite are a generational belief. I’m only 35 for fuck’s sake.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I keep my mouth shut for one reason and one reason only: I am not a parent. I do not know how to raise a child and I am not in charge of the child. Unless there is some violence involved, like if I see a kid hitting another kid or I hear a kid threatening violence (even in jest) I don’t say anything. If I am babysitting or otherwise in charge of children, then I say something because the parents left their children in my care and thus released some parental responsibilities to me for a time.

In that case, depending on the child’s age, I might say excuse me to him. If he was a bit older (middle school and up) I think I might do something like put my hand on his arm and say “excuse me,” firmly and clearly.

Just to be clear, I think when someone’s child violates your personal space, you can ignore what I said above, as long as you are polite and as non-aggressive as possible.

DarkScribe's avatar

I do it all the time, with or without the child’s parent/s present if the child is being obnoxious. I see no reason to tolerate something that impinges on my life because of poor parenting on another person’s behalf. I well known for being able to rapidly cure ADD ADHD or any of the other mishmash of excuses for poor parenting. Usually along the lines of “If you don’t start behaving I’ll rip one of your arms off and beat you to death with the wet end”!

Dansedescygnes's avatar

Ultimately, I don’t believe the loss of random childless strangers instructing kids how to behave is the problem here, it’s the parents who are the problem. However, I honestly don’t think it could hurt. I mean, I’d sure love to say something to an adult or older kid who did something like that to me, only I’d probably get beaten up, which is why it’s easier to say it to a younger child who is still learning stuff like that.

To me, I just don’t understand it. How hard is it to say “excuse me”?

Ivan's avatar


“I wasn’t aware that manners and being polite are a generational belief.”

Would you like to live under the manners of the 19th century?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Ivan: So you don’t mind when someone violates your personal space or cuts in front of you in line?

Facade's avatar

If kids are acting up and bothering me at the same time, I’ll correct them if their guardian doesn’t.

craziprincess's avatar

We went to see Star Trek too, and we were lucky enough to sit next to this group of people who kept clapping and laughing obnoxiously every 5 minutes. So yeah, it’s people like that who ruin the experience for everyone else. I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to the parents but I spoke to one of the ushers after the movie and asked them how to handle this kind of situation next time and he said to just come out and notify them, and they’ll come in and talk to them, if it happens again, they’ll ask them to leave.

hug_of_war's avatar

I would only if the kids were putting themselves in a harmful situation. I believe everyone should parent in the way they see best fit (generally speaking, exceptionss do exist), and it isn’t my right to instill my beliefs upon other’s children.

Ivan's avatar


I’m just saying that the “When I was a kid…” and “My parents…” arguments should be taken with a grain of salt.

_bob's avatar

Heh, you reminded me of this.

Allie's avatar

If something like that happened to me I’d do one of two things depending on how I feel. I’d either not say anything and go on about my day, or say something like “Uhh, hello..” to point out my presence. I’m not about to go and tell some kid I don’t even know how they should act though.

Ivan's avatar

@bob_ Have you seen this?

Allie's avatar

Jinx links!

_bob's avatar

@Ivan You mean, the link I just posted? Yep.

Ivan's avatar

@bob_ You changed it…

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s very rude to criticize a parent’s behavior when the observer knows only a fraction of the family’s interactions.

bythebay's avatar

Ha! @tinyfaery: If you ever see my children behaving that way, speak up & don’t hold back!

DarkScribe's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I criticise based on results, not method. I don’t care what the “interactions” are if the result is antisocial.

SuperMouse's avatar

If my kid did something that rude and I did not notice, I would appreciate the person speaking up. Hearing it from a stranger freaks them out a bit more and helps solidify the lessons I am trying to teach them. I am a mom who is trying to instill good manners in my kids so I can’t speak for parents who don’t care about such things.

The only part of the question that bothers me is the assumption that the kid’s parents did not attempt to correct this behavior. They may have been distracted at that moment and @The_Compassionate_Heretic makes a great point about not knowing the entire family dynamic.

If the parents were close by, obviously saw what had been done and did nothing, then they clearly don’t care, and that kid needs to be taken to school. Although if the parents are that lax about behaviors they may have some issues of their own, and you be starting some trouble you might not have expected.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s impossible for anyone to know all the details of familial situation with out being physically present for all those situations. My first interest is towards those who cannot defend themselves, which of course includes children. If there is an obvious transgression committed against a child, then I suggest the regional law authorities deal with the situation.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have learned from my experiences as a parent that all children out there are someone I want to protect and someone I would speak to if their behavior was problematic, for me…I wouldn’t reprimand them in the tone I use with my own kids as, obviously, I am not their parent but I would still calmly tell them why it upsets me…if their parent is there and doesn’t do/say anything, I do judge the parent…even though I do understand there are circumstances and all that, but if you kid is screaming ‘fucking bitch’ to another adult (this has happened to me) and all you’re doing is laughing, you best believe I’m sitting there and thinking that your dumbass shouldn’t have reproduced

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ivan I’ve read that kind of answer before. My children and grandchildren have all been taught manners and it has had the effect of making their adult lives much easier. My youngest grandson, started using please, thank you, and excuse me among his very first words.

When a similar thing happens to me I say in a loud voice “Oh, excuse me, am I in your way?”

MissAusten's avatar

These kinds of discussions always crack me up. Someone sees one lapse of judgement in a kid, and all of a sudden that kid has parents who are lazy, don’t pay attention, don’t know how to parent, etc etc etc.

As a parent to three kids, if I were in that situation I probably wouldn’t even notice. Kids are…um….kids! They don’t always remember their manners, even when they do have parents who remind them at every possible moment about those manners (and yes, I’m speaking from personal experience). Like adults, not all kids are as socially aware as others. People are so hard on parents—God forbid your kid act up in public, no matter how rarely. God forbid your kid slip up once, and all eyes are on you as if you are the world’s most inept parent and every aspect of that child’s personality and behavior is a direct result of your parenting. It’s a bit much.

So anyway, to answer the actual question, as a parent I do not usually mind if someone else corrects my children within reason. In the case above, if my kid reached in front of someone, and that someone nicely reminded my kid to say “Excuse me please,” that would be fine with me. Most likely I’d be a few feet away dealing with my other two children and already planning on saying something to the child anyway. I’d probably also apologize to the person myself and have my child apologize. I don’t mind if someone talks to my kids. If someone were to yell at them, lay a finger on them, call them names, or be rude just to prove some point about how messed up today’s kids are, I’d step in and tell that person to shut the atpounddollar up. :)

Dansedescygnes's avatar



Sorry. It’s just that that was a really good answer and I wanted to do more than just vote it up one anonymously. :)

People do overreact way too much to things like that. One instance of a kid doing something rude does not mean they’ll be on CourtTV for being “little shit twits” @evelyns_pet_zebra or “zomg the end of manners as we know it!”.

casheroo's avatar

If I’m not around, and my child does something rude I would hope someone would correct him or at least inform him of his rude behavior.
I don’t believe that doesn’t mean I haven’t taught him it, I think kids are kids and sometimes need to be reminded, it happens.
My son is very young, but we’ve already taught him he has to say “please” whenever he wants something, but he always says “here ya go” when he wants you to give him something, so if he sees something he wants, he’ll go up to you and say “Here you go please Here you go please!” Even complete strangers! We’re working on the stranger part. lol.

I usually say something when people are rude to me, I’m pretty passive aggressive though :(

ccbatx's avatar

I’ve seen people just straight out say ‘don’t be an ahole, say please.’ It seemed to work too=P

justwannaknow's avatar

If the little brat is being rude, then it is not wrong for you to correct them. (just do not touch them). Obviously the parents have no manners either or they would not allow this behavior. That is the problem today, Many of todays youth (not all) have no respect for anyone and that includes themselves.

Dansedescygnes's avatar


Like other people have said, one small example of a child doing something rude does not mean that that’s what they are like the entire time and that their parents have failed. I’m curious to know why people delight in being so judgmental when it comes to this subject. Is it because they feel their kids are better? Is it because they feel they were better “back in the day”?

Every generation does this. People back in the ‘50s thought “kids these days ain’t got no respect” just like people in the ‘20s thought that, same with the 1890s and the 1820s and so on and so forth. When I’m an adult, people my age will think the same thing. It’s just how it is.

jca's avatar

In the example Tiny gave, I would say “excuse me” kind of loudly, and hope the parent were around to see their child’s action, and hope the parent corrected it further, perhaps with a sentence or two about paying attention to where they’re going or something like that. i know kids have a tendency to be self centered, impulsive, and this kid might have just been impulsively reaching for napkins without thinking about who, where, what he was doing. i agree that sometimes a kid might take more seriously a correction by a stranger. i hope when my daughter is bigger, and if she does something a little selfish, someone corrects her if i’m not there to see it.

what bothers me is when i see kids running around stores while the mother is just concentrating on merchandise. i can’t stand when the kids act like they’re on a playground, while other people are around trying to shop. that’s my pet peeve about kids.

justwannaknow's avatar

I witness total rudeness by yoth on a daily basis. and many times I recoginize them from previous rude behavior. What is wrong with teaching all youth to be polite and respectful?

Dansedescygnes's avatar


There’s nothing wrong. If you recognize them from previous bad behavior, that’s different. I was just saying that one example is not enough to determine that their parents have no manners. That’s an extreme assumption.

tinyfaery's avatar

I certainly did not mean to judge all parents.

My personal observations, which includes my work experience with adolescents, and the second hand stories of my wife, who is a teacher, many, many, many (I cannot emphasize how many) kids have no manners; please, thank you, and excuse me are a rarity. My experience is that parents make so many excuses for rude behavior—oh, that’s how kids are, courteousy is so outdated—, and the result is a bunch if kids thinking they are entitled to behave any way in which they see fit.

Darwin's avatar

I am a parent and if a child not my own does something that impacts me, is unsafe, or is downright rude, then I speak up to the child in age-appropriate language. I don’t fuss at the parents because I don’t know the familial situation or even what is occupying their minds at the moment.

Children are human beings and need to know when their interactions with other human beings are appropriate or inappropriate, and I can do that when I am the other human being or when I see an unsafe situation arise because of the actions of the child.

With the napkin scenario, I might have said that if they had asked me politely I would have helped them get the napkins. When children use bad language in front of me I simply tell them that I don’t like those words so please do not say them in front of me.

If a small child is having a total meltdown and the parents are unsuccessful at calming things down, I might make eye contact with the child and ask them something silly, such as “Aren’t you uncomfortable on the hard floor?” simply because the realization that a stranger has noticed them is enough to make many children stop dead in mid-tantrum.

I never assume the parents are at fault unless they prove it to me.

Supacase's avatar

For something that simple, I would probably say “Excuse me.” I do not have a problem with other people correcting my daughter if she is doing something unsafe. They can even correct her for doing something out of line… unless I am right there. I have a serious problem with other parents thinking their parenting skills are superior and trying to override me as I am in the middle of taking care of the situation.

cak's avatar

I have two children, one quite older than the other. The oldest, I never once had a problem in public with, the youngest, he’s a bit more headstrong. Generally, he is not ever rude to anyone; however, if he were to be rude, he would be called on it, immediately.

Now, if someone caught him being rude, I would hope that one – the person would consider that he was very young and look for a constructive way to remind him to use his manners and two, be friendly in the reminder and not rude in the process. It’s amazing to me that when someone wants to get the point across, they often deliver the message is a rude, demeaning way…ironic, don’t you think?

I do agree with @MissAusten, it’s amazing how fast people pass judgment on the parents and they fail to consider that this may be the very first time something like this happened, yet we’re still lousy parents if it does happen. I find it funny how fast that criticism is made. I often wonder how perfect the people passing judgment are, I’m assuming they never, ever commit a manner faux pas.

If it were me, I would do something, but not to embarrass the child, to remind the child. I understand that I would, more often than not, be met with no reaction or no apology; however, a gentle reminder doesn’t hurt.

futurelaker88's avatar

this is ironic. my pastor at church today preached one hour on “Politeness and Manners” and his focus was that todays generation is not being taught to be polite (calling a store and getting they typical ‘hullo,’ or ‘yea’ and the list goes on) a lot of people loved the sermon! im only 20 myself and i agreed completely with all of it! i work at target (not proud) and i look at the kids my age and I’m embarrassed FOR my generation. I honestly feel like “if these are the people that represent my age group, i can only imagine what peoples’ preconceived notions about approaching ME are with a question. it’s sad, and it bothers me even more when i see people here fighting for people with manners (or at least people who are for teaching politeness) are being asked to “step aside” and let your “old fashioned” ways fade away. !!! <—thats all i can say.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I’m glad you people have the kids that don’t act up, that way I won’t have to see ‘em on Court TV.

Hey, you goddamn kids, get offa my fuckin’ lawn!!!

susanc's avatar

I LOVE to alert people, including children, to the social consequences of thoughtlessness on their part IF I’m in my most mature frame of mind – in which case I’m able to be very friendly and gentle. When I’m in one of my many immature frames of mind, I try to shut up.

MissAusten's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra My kids act up all the time—at home, anyway. In public they are usually fine. To be honest, I’m kind of glad they aren’t meek little sheep, following orders and never questioning authority. What kind of adults would they make? They know they can’t cross a line or they get into trouble, but I want them to stick up for themselves, think for themselves, and not always take “No” for an answer. If they have an opinion, they are more than welcome to voice it respectfully. We have difficult kids just because they are all very outgoing, persistent, and intelligent. I believe in that saying, “Tame the beast without breaking the child,” because the very things that make my kids challenging now will serve them well as adults.

As for manners, I absolutely do not think they are “old fashioned” or “outdated.” Please and thank you are expected from my kids, and we always remind them if they forget. In fact, I am more strict about manners in many ways than my parents were. Thank you cards are a good example—until I had my wedding shower, I’d never written a thank you card in my life. My parents never required it of me, and if my mom wrote them on my behalf (which I highly doubt) she never once mentioned it. When my kids receive presents for birthdays or holidays, I write thank you notes. Once the kids are old enough to write their own names, they sign the cards. Once they are old enough to do the cards alone (so far only my daughter has reached this milestone), it becomes their responsibility. The case of “no one teachers manners anymore” isn’t true. Most of the kids I know are taught manners and expected to use them…they just don’t always remember.

dynamicduo's avatar

You should never ever attempt to parent another person’s child. It is presumptuous, offensive, certainly rude, but mostly it’s pointless – your one attempt will solve nothing and will have no effect whatsoever. Honestly, it’s probably one of the rudest things I could consider, WAY more rude than the original transgression.

I believe the above. At the same time, children (and more importantly, their parents) do not have a free pass to do anything they want to if it affects me in a public place. If I am harassed, I will resolve the situation via talking to the parent or moving myself out of the situation completely. A child kicking the back of my chair, I will tell the parent to make it stop, or I’ll move somewhere else. But I rarely if ever talk negatively to the child, there is simply no point as the child will not remember it and it’s really the parent’s behavior or lack of control that is the problem in 99% of instances.

tinyfaery's avatar

I am certainly not a follower, nor am I sheep. Yet, I know when to say excuse me and thank you.

Like I said, excuses.

bythebay's avatar

Way too many excuses for bad behavior. I do believe that children are just little people trying to navigate an adult world. A world fraught with protocol, expectations (both known and unknown), and behavioral land mines. Will they make a faux pas, yes! Are manners and good behavior optional, no way!

I do disagree with you @dynamicduo; my children learn much from other adults – I do think it matters. And as for your 99% instance theory, that seems high. Kids can’t be in their parents sights at all times, especially when they get older. I’ve no doubt my children will offend or bother people at times; perhaps unknowingly…and we are as diligent as two parents can be.

I know plenty of asshole parents (and kids!), but I’m happy to say I don’t think they’re the majority.

MissAusten's avatar

@tinyfaery Who is giving excuses? Everyone here seems to be in agreement that children should be taught manners. Do you have children or spend a lot of time around children? Sometimes they forget their manners, regardless of how effective their parents have been at teaching (and modeling) correct behavior.

In the example given, I don’t think there’s nearly enough cause for an all-out war against bad parenting. So a kid forgot to say “Excuse me” or wait his or her turn. I’d be a lot more worried about that kid’s upbringing if he or she had been out in the parking lot torturing a kitten, or throwing popcorn at the movie screen, or stealing someone’s purse, swearing at other people…I mean, there are so many much worse things a kid can do besides forget to say please or thank you or excuse me now and then.

Kids are, by nature, immature. They really can’t help forgetting themselves sometimes, especially when excited, or tired, or hungry, or distracted. There is no excuse for parents not teaching their children manners, but there’s also no excuse for purposely blaming parents for every little mistake kids make as they learn and grow. Half the fun of parenting is getting to witness those mistakes!

bythebay's avatar

@MissAusten: Your description matches many adults I know, too!

” nature, immature. They really can’t help forgetting themselves sometimes, especially when excited, or tired, or hungry, or distracted.”

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

At some point we just have to leave it up to the parents to teach their children to be polite to people. If they do, that’s great. If their children grow up to be brats, we have to accept that too. We can’t control how other parents choose to raise their children so long as they aren’t breaking any laws in doing so.

MissAusten's avatar

@bythebay Now that I think about it, that also describes my husband pretty accurately. :O No wonder my kids are insane!

tinyfaery's avatar

Bratty ass kids effect me, and everybody else in society. They are not just “your” kids, they belong to society and the world. I had a 6 year career because of shitty parents. Reparenting was basically my job. It is amazing what boundaries and consistency will accomplish. Raising kids isn’t about making sure they are well-behaved only when they are around a parent, but instilling an idea that even if no one is looking, being polite is expected and curteous.

@MissAusten “My kids act up all the time—at home, anyway. In public they are usually fine. To be honest, I’m kind of glad they aren’t meek little sheep, following orders and never questioning authority. What kind of adults would they make?”

I think that is an excuse

MissAusten's avatar

@tinyfaery An excuse for what? I also said we expect them to use good manners—so what did you think I was excusing? In case I haven’t made it clear, I agree that kids should have manners. I just don’t agree that a lapse such as the one given in this question automatically condemns the child to a future life of crime, or means the child’s parents are rude morons.

tinyfaery's avatar

<<Shakes head>>

Dansedescygnes's avatar


I think the only thing people are saying here is that you can’t judge based on one instance. And that’s what you did in this question.

tinyfaery's avatar

Nope. Reread question. I asked how rude is it…

Dansedescygnes's avatar


True, but the comments in the question quickly shifted to making assumptions about kids and their parents based one instance of bad behavior or rudeness; at least, that’s why I think people are still talking about that.

tinyfaery's avatar

Not my comments. Where did I judge?

Dansedescygnes's avatar

What made me think that about the original question was when you said “my parents never would have abided such behavior in public.” I’m pretty sure most parents wouldn’t. One instance of a lapse in manners doesn’t mean the parents allow that or approve of that.

I mean, one person posted something about certain kids they know who were repeatedly rude; that’s completely different.

jca's avatar

It’s very hard to judge kids and parents, and there are no perfect kids and no perfect parents. I was judgemental till i had a kid, now i’ll see how I do. Don’t judge until you walk in their shoes. Don’t assume based on one instance. I do, too, and then i question myself. I know I was not a perfect child, and my mother took great pains to teach me properly. My mother used to say “just wait till you’re a mom.”

Just an aside, I wrote to another Flutherite, who shall remain nameless, and asked how come i have not seen her lately on Fluther. She told me she finds this site seems to be more and more about people who want to be agreed with or want to fight about it. I don’t agree that the kid who is a little overly aggressive necessarily has bad parenting – he’s a kid, like MissAustin and Bythebay said.

Darwin's avatar

By the time a person reaches adulthood they are the product of thousands of interactions with other people, including parents, peers, and other adults. Perhaps that one interaction with me, where I suggest that being polite is a more effective way to get what one wants, will be totally lost among all of the other interactions. Or maybe it won’t. Perhaps that one minor and casual lesson will sink in and cause that person to be a slightly better or more caring person than they might have been without it.

I do not advocate charging up to a parent and blasting them with demands that they control their brats. I don’t even suggest going up and ratting out the child (“Your kid forgot to say please,” or “Your kid cut in line.”). Instead I advocate interacting with the child as a person. If a child cuts in front of you in line, you say “Please don’t cut in line. The end of the line is back there.” just as you would an adult. Keep it civil and keep it simple, and remind those that forget that these things make life flow more smoothly.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I ain’t skeered, I’ll tell another child they’re being rude and I hope another adult would do the same for my kids. I actually had to leave a job because the way a woman’s kids were acting. It was a laid back job, my toddler, her toddler and her newborn were there. Her toddler drove me up the freaking wall and I really just wanted to smack him most of the time, so I figured it would be best if I quit.

I’m not judging the posted situation, I’m not saying unruly kids all have bad parents, but in my case it was the truth. That woman just lets her kids run rampant and then tries to speak to them like they’re adults. Sorry, that doesn’t work.

Anyhow…. I think I got a little distracted there…

Back to YOUR issue. Hell yeah I’d speak up. I don’t think it’s rude to say something to the child. You can’t take a bat to him after he stomps on your foot, but you CAN say something. =0)

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