What Do You Do If Someone Shushes Your Kid?

Travel With Kids

So here’s the scenario:

We visited a tea plantation just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. During our self-guided factory tour, we were on our own, the place was empty.

After sampling some tea and checking out the gift shop, we waited a few more minutes for the trolley tour to start. We wondered if this would be a private tour but then a few small groups showed up.

There was an elderly couple, a couple of young girls and three older women that joined us.

Travel With KidsOn this tour we got to check out the grounds and learn a bit more about all of the different types of tea.

Lucas was interested in seeing the tea plants and checking out the greenhouse however he also started to get bored towards the end…

He started singing (not too loud) to himself while playing with a toy car while back on the trolley. The tour had maybe three minutes left when I told him to quiet down.

Travel With Kids
Our ride

Then I heard, a loud shhhhh sound from the abrasive old lady sitting behind me. I turned around and gave her a “look” not that she seemed to care.

I got pretty annoyed that the lady had the nerve to make any comment towards my son. Kim and I were telling him to quiet down and he really wasn’t bothering anyone. (The tour guide had even commented how good he was etc…)

Since I knew the tour was almost over and we were on a small, contained trolley, I decided to let her shushing comment slide and not say anything to her. (She was also an old lady, so is it really worth saying anything rude back to her?)

What would you do if someone told your kid to be quiet? Should you just stand by or tell them not to talk to your kid that way?

Tough call. If my situation was a little different I probably would have said something… 🙂

25 thoughts on “What Do You Do If Someone Shushes Your Kid?

  1. I can see both sides of the argument. If a kid is quietly singing or making “happy sounds”, I try very hard to ignore even if it becomes difficult to hear what’s going on. Being hard of hearing from a very young age makes competing noises a challenge, but having a listening device to help you focus can also make you more sensitive to sounds than others. Given enough time the sensitivity can lead to ear and headaches, so even if you don’t consider the sound to be “too loud”, please try to keep in mind that others may be struggling. If I know the parent is making an effort, I am not likely to chime in, so in that respect I can see the authors point of view as well. I have been in situations where people let their kids yell/scream or talk loud enough to give me a headache in an enclosed space and the parents did absolutely nothing. That is when I am more likely to ask a kid to be quiet because they are causing me physical pain even if the parent says that they aren’t ” touching me and therefore can’t be hurting me”. Given that the a kid is well past the baby or toddler stage (and doesn’t have severe mental handicaps that prevent them from understanding) I feel like parents should explain concepts such as how noise can hurt others and that the screaming/yelling needs to be reserved for when they are badly hurt or in danger. Otherwise, they are allowed to cry wolf all day and if something does really cause them distress the neighbors tend to think, “well, those kids scream/yell all the time” when they don’t happen to see what the problem is.

  2. What is wrong with you people I had a simliar situation but in my case a lady sitting next table we just went down from our hotel room and then my 2y 10 months said loudly nooo just one time just one time and then the lady 55+ looked at her my daughter’s eyes and scared her saying SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH so strong I heard her while I was getting my food , felt so bad I didn’t say anything … Bad ppl only do that no excuse for such behaviour those are kids… Ppl with no kids stay off , you know nothing ..

  3. I’ve been to that tea plantation, and taken the very same tour in the past year or so.

    First off, I think it’s awesome that your family did an educational tour to learn to something new. Encouraging young ones to do something different is a great thing.

    Personally, I never knew beforehand how tea was cultivated. Or dried. I found it fascinating. It really is an unique tour, isn’t it?

    So having taken that tour, I have no idea why anyone would have shushed your child. I remember a lot of talking amongst our group- with each other and each little subset within. I remember a lot of question and answers. I remember stopping and listening to a pre-recorded tape (better than the explanation).

    It was definitely an audience participation tour.

    And if there was only about three minutes left of the tour….from personal experience, people, this is what it means: a trolley ride thru a field.

    Let me repeat that: a trolley ride thru a field.

    The tapes are done, people are gazing out over the tea bushes, and perhaps a Q&A session. Mostly just small talk amongst the guests.

    So I’m thinking this: 1) other people were talking amongst themselves about non-tea things, and 2) this one lady was just not a happy camper with the tour (her expectations were not met which wasn’t your fault).

    It is an interesting tour. We don’t pay attention to our agriculture in this nation anymore, and to learn about a plant that changed the world was amazing.

    But the end of the trolley tour was thru some fields. This child didn’t do anything wrong. And I would guess that your son probably maintained knowledge about the tea plantation that the woman has since forgotten.

    Truly, I think the lady probably had a different expectation of the tour: more plantation than working farm.

    I just had a visual memory of my own tour run thru my head: I really liked this place but it’s not for people that expect to see static objects rather than live things. Don’t let one person’s disappointment ruin your memory of your son learning something new!

  4. Bill- Fair enough…

    Steve- Good points… We did care how he acted and did try to quiet him down. Whatever he was doing, quietly singing or not- we did not ignore him and just let it slide.

    Vicente- If you don’t want anyone touching your child, stay away from Myanmar! 🙂

    thumbelina- Some interesting ideas and points.

    Rose- I totally agree- it is a no-win…

    Doug- Not sure who I am deflecting the blame on? Please explain…

    Filipe- Um no and what am I hiding from? If you read the post you may have saw that I did tell him to quiet down.

    Janie- Good points…

    Danny- 🙂

    JEM- I honestly didn’t feel it was necessary to make comments towards him. We did try to quiet him. Interesting point though- I don’t think he even heard her but it can open him up to thinking more about the people around him.

    Alex- It is my perspective, you are totally correct. He wasn’t loud the entire tour, never said he was and we didn’t just ignore what he was doing.

    Autolycus- I guess I could wrote that he bothered the lady that shushed him….

    TS- I am not looking for anyone to back me up. I am sharing a situation that took place that I am sure happens to many people traveling with a young child.

    Levy Flight- I’m sure this doesn’t happen only in Northern Cali!

    Atif- My son did not shame us in any way. How many three year olds do you know that shame their family???? And what he was doing did not IMO require any apology.

    BOShappyflyer- Great point to think of in the future… Sounds like you had a crummy experience at the Opera House which is too bad. What it sounds like you went through is definitely nothing like the situation I described.

  5. There are two sides. Obviously, no one likes to get shushed nor does a parent ever want to have their kid get shushed by a stranger (parent being protective and all) and you’re doing your best…that said, you noticed that your kid was making noises and it clearly bothered another person who clearly heard it too, even if it seemed minor from your perspective.

    Personally, I have never shushed a stranger’s kid ever (I like kids so they don’t ever bother me). If I did, I must be really darned annoyed. If the parent then give me a look, I would ignore because I’d honestly would feel that the parent is in the wrong in the first place for not keeping their kid in check. Granted, it’s not easy being a parent and you can’t control what you kid can or cannot do, but a parent CAN control taking kids to kids-appropriate events/tours/activities so they won’t get bored, or leave the tour if the kids become too disruptive, or apologize and try to contain the disruption as quickly as possible.

    I’ll give you an example (a little more extreme version): I was on a trip to Sydney (special occasion — once in a lifetime kind of trip and we did the obligatory Opera House tour). During this tour, a parent brought along a kid who was brawling loudly for some time towards the middle of the tour. It was so disruptive much that I (and many others) had to move away from them because we couldn’t actually clearly what the tour guide was saying even with the headsets. To this day, I remembered missing a good portion of the history that I signed up to hear about as part of the tour because of that kid. It’s not the end of the world, but it definitely dampened my experience there.

    At the point, the parent should have either taken the kid from the tour (since it didn’t seemed like he could calm the kid), so it doesn’t ruin the experience of everyone else who wants to get some quiet enjoyment. Shushing that kid would have been the most polite thing to do, but most people were polite enough to not shush the kid (even though many were evidently annoyed/bothered). I think most of us either stared (or perhaps glared?) but most also gave the parent the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that the parent is wanting to enjoy the tour too and doing the best to contain the situation. In hindsight, I think stepping out of the tour would have been the best given that it carried on for a while.

    Not saying that yours was as extreme as that case, it’s just a slight parallel. Sometimes parents are tone-deaf to their kids’ behaviors and antics and don’t realize that it can be bothersome to other people who may be trying to enjoy the same activities as well.

  6. At the end of the post you ask:

    What would you do if someone told your kid to be quiet? Should you just stand by or tell them not to talk to your kid that way?

    My first reaction would be to APOLOGIZE to the person for the disturbance my child is making.

    Maybe this is an Asian vs. western cultural difference….but when I was a child if we behaved publicly in a way that brought attention (shame) to our family (parents) it would NOT end well for us!

  7. Well, in northern California it is not uncommon for parents to be a little free with how their kids behave in public. We have on occasion had a politely, gently help a kid to realize what he or she is doing in our space is not ok. We’d be happy to take up with the parents if they were paying approriate attention.

  8. Haha, this is funny. You write this looking for people to back you up, and most comments seem to point out that perhaps *you* are the one who should learn something from this experience.

  9. “and he really wasn’t bothering anyone.” I think you’re being a bit too kind to your son and yourself here. Obviously he WAS bothering someone if she felt the need to shush him.

  10. No offense, but your comment about your son not bothering anyone is your perspective. And we are all more lenient towards our own children. Obviously you son was loud enough to bother someone else and if you didn’t say anything until towards the end of the tour that may not reflect so well on your consideration of others. If my child may be bothering someone, I always make a proactive attempt so at least the other party would know I’m trying and they are usually nicer and more patient. In your case because of your perception that your son wasn’t bothering anyone, the old lady might have been bothered the entire tour.

  11. This happened occasionally while raising my kids. I always tried to evaluate whether or not it was reasonable and appropriate for the person to be making the correction. Nearly all of the time it was (people rarely are bold enough to correct others’ kids without significant provocation).

    The few times I thought it was inappropriate I usually let it slide as you did, or used it to start a discussion with my sons on why it might have happened (perhaps she was just having a bad day?). I can only think of one time I actually decided it was worth it to correct the adult.

    Your writing is somewhat ambiguous – you say that your son was loud enough that both you and Kim were telling him to quiet down, but yet he wasn’t “too loud” and “really wasn’t bothering anyone”. Yet the fact that the old lady shushed him indicates he was bothering at least her.

    Correction from a stranger, when the child is in fact acting inappropriately, can be very effective. If nothing else, it helps kids realize that their behavior doesn’t exist totally within a family bubble.

  12. I find that our children don’t seem to bother us as much as they bother other people. I found that when I was in the school system – how dare we discipline the students – they are their parents pride and joy and can do no wrong in their parents eyes. I would have apologized and then again tried to quiet him even though it appeared to you he wasn’t bothering anyone and the tour was almost over. She might have had a hard time hearing and other background noises might have prevented her from hearing as well as she would have liked. Although this incident was minor (according to your recounting of it) perhaps it was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Who knows? Just another point of view.

  13. Obviously your child was bothering somebody. Instead of acknowledging that fact, you’re looking for excuses for his (and your) behavior, and trying to deflect blame.

    1. I understand that you get annoyed by small children, but do we really need terrible human beings like yourself? Kids are everywhere, and expecting them to behave as adults is unrealistic. If they’re annoying you that badly, try and move from your seat, or even better – jump off the moving bus.

  14. This is a no win situation but here goes. Since someone felt the need to shhhh him he was clearly bothering her despite your claim that he was bothering no one. As an older woman her hearing may not have been good and she wanted to here the tour not your son. She may not have heard what you said to your son either. I have given the shhh to adults and to children and will continue to do so when they are disturbing my enjoyment of an event by making noise that makes it difficult for me to hear. I have also gotten the shhh on occasion and I got over it. I’m sure your son was not the devil incarnate but parents are generally totally incapable of being impartial judges of their own children who they rightfully love without limit.

  15. Parents often become immune to their child’s noise ( or deaf) …they are so used to hearing it it doesn’t bother THEM

    Who are you to say “and he really wasn’t bothering anyone.”

    Obviously he was or she wouldn’t have shusshed him. And, from my experience, for every person who finally does shussh someone else’s child there are usually a boatload/busload/trainload or beach/pool load of others who wished they had.

    Nature has built in hormones and brain chemistry changes to ensure parents stick by their children no matter how ill-behaved. Try to video your children sometime and listen just to the audio and try to imagine how others perceive them…

    1. This sounds like a load of crap. You are probably some childless yuppie who equates your furry annoying shitty dog with children. Kids explore, they sing, and sometimes, they yell. But it’s all about you, right? You self-righteous, arrogant child-hating prick.

  16. I’d laugh. If for some reason my own shush wasn’t working, that from a stranger certainly won’t!

    Had the embarrassment of a screaming toddler on descent once that we could not calm down. Ears hurting. FA stopped by and decided to try and help. I said “hey sure go ahead!” Of course, it helped not one bit, but I guess she felt better for trying!

    You know what bugs me? Strangers who TOUCH my child without asking. It’s usually the 70+ people who seem to think this is acceptable as they pass down the aisle and see a cute baby they want to pat their hand. No thanks! We have enough germs already.

  17. My personal opinion (one that may not be terribly popular) is that if your child is being disruptive and affecting the experience of other people in a public place, it’s the responsibility of the parent to do their best to take care of the situation in a swift manner. This is the same whether it be a tour, restaurant, flight, museum, or otherwise.

    Far too many parents let their children act however they’d like and just expect the people around them to deal with it, which I feel is the wrong approach. More often than not I think people make excuses for their children and think to themselves “well, it wasn’t that annoying”, but the reality is, the people around you may think otherwise. Obviously in this case, the child was affecting the enjoyment of the tour for other people and you were either not cognizant of that fact, or you just didn’t care.

    1. In case you forgot, the father took control of the situation. Not every situation is the same. One day when you have kids you will know what responsibility means. If You Do Have Kids, Get A Life. I am very sure that your kids will act out and please remember your own words. Shhhhhhhhj

  18. Tough one. It’s hard to tell without having witnessed what happened first hand.

    You say “…he really wasn’t bothering anyone” but that’s your perception, not exactly a “fact”. The lady was bothered by the whatever noise he was making.

    I’ve always erred the side of caution and demanded decorum from my kids rather than risk annoying others… I, for one, get easily annoyed with other people’s unruly kids. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve come across extremely annoying children whose parents are more than oblivious as to how annoying their kids really are.

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