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.

Do You Ignore Other People's Children?


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  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. I totally agree, it’s doesn’t take much to give a smile and say hello. I can understand some people might feel uncomfortable because of the whole ‘stranger danger’ thing though x

  3. 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.

  4. I agree, it’s no effort to smile and say hello back. However, I think some people are just rude – I’ve had adults point blank ignore me when I’ve said something to them! It’s a shame as I’m sure they’d be a lot happier if they smiled and engaged more with others!

  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

  6. Yes I always speak to children if they speak to me.

    I’ve been known to pull the odd funny face or stick my tongue out at them..

    We live in a world where human interaction is getting less and less, let’s not show the next generation that ignoring others is OK.

  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

  9. Oh, this makes me sad. I’ve been so surprised and touched by how many people talk to my daughter when we’re out and about – almost everyone wants to say hello.

    (though, having had a lot of retail/leisure jobs, I can tell you: yes, those people absolutely DO ignore sales assistants. And it is horrible)

  10. 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.

  11. I always talk to children who speak to me or smile/wave etc. I always have even before I was a parent, the same as I’d acknowledge anyone else who did so. I just don’t have it in me to be that rude!

    Stevie x

  12. 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

  13. I think it is very judgemental to call these people rude without knowing them or their situation. I am mildly autistic and find it extremely difficult to interact with people. Thankfully, my son is not and is very sociable. Also after my son was born I had severe post natal depression. I was often just in my own little world and didn’t notice what was happening around me. During this period, a friend said hello to me on the street and I was so slow to react she had gone before I realised. I had to text her when I got home to apologise. So please don’t be so quick to judge people you don’t know.

  14. Not everyone is interested in talking to your special little snowflake. Some people are trying to get stuff done without having some emotionally and intelectually underdeveloped excuse of a human being interrupting them at every turn. However, the worst thing is when parents genuinely believe you have some obligation to spend your time and energy on THEIR children. Get lost.

    P.S: I ignore adults I don’t want to talk to as well.

    1. Preach. I am a professional adult. 31 married for 7 years (together for 12) and purposefully chose to not have children. I don’t want to talk to you, your child or your mama. Have children and try to make them functioning humans. That includes you are not entitled to anyone else’s time, Especially with out that persons consent. Boundaries people, boundries.

  15. If I am at the beach and a stranger started to show me their new watch I would ignore them man woman or child. I am spending precious time the way I need to, and entertaining your child is not a priority. Boundaries are important. Also your child is not as important as you think. I am not as important as I think, none of us are. sounds he needs a lesson in humility and privacy. Your child is not entitled to my time. Teach children to be respectful of others and and enforce the tale as old as time of “stranger danger “

  16. My seven year old likes to talk and when he has something exciting to say he’ll want to tell everyone. His grandparents aren’t very good listeners, he’ll be talking to them and just straight up ignore them and I have to jump in and tell them “ he’s trying to tell you guys something “. I get mad because they do that and it will affect his self esteem. One day I asked why don’t you want to say hi to your grandparents and he said they don’t listen to me and my heart sank. So, I think it’s important to listen to a child , I mean at least a hello would be okay .

    1. Oh that’s so sad. His grandparents obviously don’t realise what they are missing – there’s nothing nicer than seeing the world through a child’s thoughts and expressions! x

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