How to deal with other children being distracting

Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 14, 2015

Family First by Maryanne Law


Is there anything useful to do when someone else’s child is being distracting at a public event?

Maryanne Law

Maryanne Law

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If you are in a one-time, unfamiliar setting, like a graduation and do not know the child, you will probably just be thankful that the disruptive child does not belong to you. It may also be an opportunity to quietly thank your child for cooperating by sitting quietly and listening well.  Before an event would be a good time to have a discussion with your child about why quiet behavior is so appreciated at public events. First, individuals have worked hard to prepare for whatever they are doing in the front of the group and it is only fair and courteous to not take other people’s attention away from them during their special moment. Secondly, one person doing something distracting can be annoying in a group, but lots of people acting disrespectfully will totally ruin a special event for everyone.

If you are a person who regularly finds yourself at public events where there are children, you may decide to come prepared with some small items that you can share that will help to quiet a restless child. Many pro-active parents today use digital games to keep their restless children occupied, but a small activity book with dot-to-dot pages, a coloring book with a few color markers, an envelope with a collection of colorful stickers or a comic book and some silly putty that will pick up the printed images on the page are still helpful objects to share with a child who needs help staying quiet.

If you are in a familiar setting, you may support an overwhelmed parent by asking, with a smile, if it would be helpful if you took a distracting child out of the situation. While others are wishing that the parent would take the distracting child out of the room, you may be the person who takes action for the benefit of the child and the special occasion.

If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.  Check out and free resources at the Parenting Resource Center Specialty Library, 105 First Street SE in Austin.


Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.