Kerrrching! Can you hear that? It’s the sound of cash registers ringing at a swarm of family-friendly northern beaches shopping centres in Sydney, following the news that a previously popular shopping mall is cracking down on screaming kids.
The news broke yesterday that Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre on Sydney’s northern beaches, has enforced a "no screaming policy", adding that children who scream in public or throw a tantrum are an affliction that must be dealt with sternly, quickly and without exception. Yes they will be kicked out of the centre!
It seems that centre management, who were reportedly spurred on by numerous complaints from other shoppers over children “running amok”, believe that diners frequenting the food court “should be able to enjoy a quiet and relaxed coffee or lunch” in the food court.
Yes you read that right: a food court. Not a five-star day spa with an adults-only infinity pool, a swim-up bar and a 20-hat restaurant with a six-month wait list. Not even a little local coffee shop.
It’s purely a public eating area, featuring a conglomeration of takeaway outlets, juice bars and chain coffee shops wedged between supermarkets, two dollar shops and nail bars. It’s food for the masses with something for everyone – convenience and choice but certainly not a peaceful fine dining adults-only experience.
Now I’m not advocating that my kids be allowed to scream at the top of their lungs, tip over chairs or run their fingers through the froth in another patron’s cappuccino. Of course that would be extreme and ridiculous and would meet with a very robust dose of discipline that would probably have me dragged off to DOCS.
What I am saying is that those who choose to judge and complain need to stop and consider that empathy and understanding of little ones are virtues.
Even the most well-behaved child can have a day where they don’t feel well, their parent has strung them out well beyond their nap time or they simply choose to express (as best they know how) that they would really, really, really like to have that lollipop instead of the sandwich Mum packed at home.
And even the most together, capable and 'committed to discipline’ mother can find herself at the end of her tether as she tries to get through a huge list of tasks with children in tow. Her every effort at a trip to the shops is thrown to the wind by the centre’s insistence on placing temptation at every corner. The most angelic child who ‘always does exactly as they are told’ is of course tempted by the $2 ride outside the supermarket, the machine that spits out junky little plastic balls, the samples at the front of the chocolate shop and whatever the latest toy is with the kids’ meal this week.
Yes of course we should be able to just say no and that’s that. But it doesn't always happen that way.
So whether we choose to blame the child or the mother, the fact remains that this centre is basically banning behaviour that may makes others feel uncomfortable.
If we subscribe to this policy, should we ask parents a child with Asperger’s or Autism to immediately remove their little one the minute an episode starts in the centre? And what about a little one with Down Syndrome? Should they be ushered out of a public space for fear that they make someone enjoying their $5 coffee and cake feel uncomfortable?
Wake up. Children are children. People are wonderful. And no one is perfect. Ever.
Consider the fact that it takes a village to raise a child – not just one mum who’s doing the best she can on two hours’ sleep. To those protesting shoppers, perhaps instead of looking over your coffee and tut-tutting to your friends, you could offer to help. Show the child a smile, poke a funny face or offer to hold a stressed-out mums’ fretting newborn while she deals with her toddler.
You never know, it may just warm your heart in a way that your chain-made coffee can’t.
What do you think about the "screaming kids" ban? Are you for or against it?
Read http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/health/blogs/mouths-of-mums/|more of Nikki's blogsNikki Hills is a mum of four and founder of Mouths of Mums®. Nikki’s a regular mum who tries to squeeze too much into her day and never gets around to folding all the clothes. Her gorgeous kids keep her on the hop and inspire her everyday. Nikki created Mouths of Mums® to give mums an honest place where they can review and sample products, hear what other mums think and share with other mums. You can also follow Mouths of Mums (& Nikki) on Facebook or on Twitter.