Do You Ignore Other People’s Children?

Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of time with LP and Little Man. When the children are at home with me we might do the typical things like going shopping, to the post office and generally running errands before having a couple of hours at the park or soft play.

On these normal days the children talk constantly. They talk to me and they talk to anyone else too. If LP has got a new top, new shoes or, on one occasion, a new watch she will spend the whole day showing those new things to everyone she meets, asking them to look at it and telling them about it.

Other days, when there isn’t anything new LP and Little Man will both wave at people in the shops, saying “Hello man!” cheerily or just bouncing up and down. They are both incredibly sociable little things and love to greet people, talk to them and make them smile.

I always watch the children when they’re interacting with random people and it’s amazing how differently people react to them. Some will smile, say hello and treat the children as equals, making conversation and wishing them a nice day at the end.

Others will smile politely and hurry on with their business, not really knowing what the correct etiquette is when greeted by a four year old standing in a shopping trolley. But others make me sad.

There are quite a few others who will point blank ignore the children. Who will act as if they are not there and even when the children say hello again those people won’t even look in their direction. There have been times at soft play where Little Man has been playing with another child and will start to talk to the child’s parent. The parent looks at him whilst he is talking and then, when he has finished, will look away as if he isn’t even there. Not even attempting to understand him or give any sort of reply.

When we’re in soft play and another child talks to me, I’ll reply. If a child in the supermarket says hello, I’ll smile and say hello back before smiling at the child’s parent too, letting them know that I don’t mind the little interruption on my shopping trip. If a child talks to me I treat them like an equal, I don’t think of them as just a child but as another person, an individual in their own right and someone who deserves my time, my focus and enough respect to not be ignored.

Would those people ignore a colleague at work? Would they look away if a neighbour said good morning to them? Would they completely blank a friendly shop assistant when buying their weekly shop? I doubt it. So why do people treat children so differently?

Children learn about how to treat people by the way they are treated. They soak up every little interaction and I know that I want Little Man to keep chatting, to have those random conversations and to keep being that confident little boy. I don’t want him to think that he’ll be ignored, that his words don’t matter or that people will have something better to do than listen to him.

Next time a small child asks you something in soft play or shouts hello in the supermarket, take a moment to reply or smile at them before carrying on with your day.


21 thoughts on “Do You Ignore Other People’s Children?

  1. I always smile and say hello if children talk to me. We were in the garage getting the car fixed this week and Logan chatted to a lady about dinosaurs for ages she was lovely about it. As for people ignoring children in soft play I think that’s even worse!!

  2. Hmm, it depends on the child for me. If they’re lovely and smiley and chatty like yours I’ll definitely chat to them. But I’ve also experienced children coming over and asking me for things like my children’s food and drinks. I’d never give anything to a child I don’t know because you don’t know about any health complications and I find it awkward when the parents don’t intervene.
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  3. I totally agree with this, it really annoys me when children are treated as lesser members of society. Ignoring them is so so rude and even things like ‘adult only’ cafes etc. wind me up because what right do they have to exclude people based on their age? The only good thing though is I think at least I can make a good judgement about what kind of a person someone is based on how they treat my children. If they don’t give them the time of day then they aren’t worth my time either! Great post xx
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  4. Interesting post. L is a very social toddler and often waves to people etc, so I too have been interested in people’s reactions. I theory, yes, I’d want people to acknowledge her and be friendly as she learns from these interactions. However, I don’t always think it’s people being rude if they ignore – we forget that not everyone has kids or knows how to interact with them. Before becoming a dad, I didn’t really have any experience with kids, so didn’t really know what do do or how to interact. Obviously I’m much better now, but I think it’s all too easy to call someone rude when actually they’re just uncomfortable with an unknown siutation.
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  5. Alice is exactly the same as LP and chats away to everyone about completely random things. It’s great when it’s to people who listen and respond to her, but it really annoys me when she is ignored and she looks at me, looking for help and not understanding why they didn’t answer her. We often walk away with her saying ‘why didn’t they speak?’, I have to pick my words carefully when I respond to her!!!!! X
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  6. I always say hello to kids if they interact with me. I have a particularly chatty nearly 3 year old who loves having a fab with random people! I guess some people are shy and sadly some people might be wary (with all the child protection issues you hear about thesedays ????)
    I’ll chat to anyone ????????

  7. I always chat to kids out in public if they talk to me, think it’s my background in teaching etc which is the main reason for it. Colin doesn’t like to though. His police background means he’s not keen to talk to children he doesn’t know in case it’s taken the wrong way by the child’s parents. He wouldn’t point blank ignore them but he’d feel quite uncomfortable I think. He used to despair at me when we flew back to Belfast because I’d always end up making friends with a small child on the flight!!!!!!

  8. Loved reading this Donna, and I am so with you on this! I would never ignore a child if they were talking to me. I love that your kids are sociable…mine couldn’t be more opposite. They would never strike up conversation with random people and they never talk back when people talk to them. It can be a bit awkward for me! Hahaa. They just go all shy! xx
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  9. Interesting post. I haven’t experienced this personally, and I always talk back to anyone who approaches me – child or adult – but especially a child because they’re still learning about social interactions and sometimes I’ve been at children’s parties when I’d prefer to chat to the kids rather than the mums!!

    I think this is another of how we don’t live within a very child-friendly culture in Britain. You would rarely experience this attitude in Spain or Italy, or many other European countries.

  10. Well they are just weirdos! And annoying. I totally agree, what is it teaching our kids. It takes nothing to be friendly, it even cheers me up to say hello to strangers, child or adult.

  11. I’ve definitely experienced this with my kids. I always say hello if a child speaks to me. One thing that really bugs me is if my child is standing in the way of an adult and they want to pass them. The amount of times that they stand and just stare at me instead of saying excuse me to my son or daughter waiting for me to ask them to move out of the way. Weird!

  12. This makes me sad. I do find it interesting how different people are with young children and the reactions we get when we are out and about. I will always chat to other peoples children too. It’s such a shame when adults are like that with them. x

  13. This is a really interesting post. I work as a pharmacy dispenser for a large supermarket chain and I always talk to children. I serve them as well
    As their parent because I think that’s important. We all have to learn how to interact with people we don’t know in shops and I want to help build that child’s confidence up as one day they won’t have a parent with them. If I’m out and about and a child chats to me or plays with one of mine I will always talk to them and be friendly. I want to live in a happy society where we do chat or help each other and that starts with how we are treated as children. Some parents don’t like you talking to their children when you are serving them. They don’t say anything but you can just feel it. Haven’t the foggiest why though.

    1. I think that stems from the whole stranger danger thing but I also work in customer service and I think some people just see themselves as ‘above’ people in this kind of role – we are there to serve them and just don’t like to converse. Sad I know! x

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