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20-40-60 Etiquette: Teach your children how to behave while on the beach

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Our etiquette panel shares tips for handling children misbehaving at the beach. [File art/Metro Creative Connection]
Our etiquette panel shares tips for handling children misbehaving at the beach. [File art/Metro Creative Connection]

QUESTION: At a public beach, children kicked sand on me while they were running and ran over my blankets where I was sitting. These were also the children who left behind trash on the beach. Is there a way to establish guidelines for behavior at the beach?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: While signs of picking up after yourself surely have to be around the beach, I’m not so sure about children reading them or following the suggestions. Kindly let them know they need to pick up after themselves if you prefer. Talk to them nicely, they might not even realize.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Witnessing things like this feels the same as reading the ugly comments sections on the Internet: You realize that a lot of people only see the world through one lens — their own. People often forget that we’re all humans together and the world is a better place when we are mindful of others and when we treat others the way we want to be treated. Children are still learning; it is too bad their parents or guardians didn’t step in and make them think about the consequences of their actions on other people. It’s too bad so many don’t think about that at all. You can always ask them to please stop kicking sand, although when I’ve asked things like this, such as to roughhousing teenagers on a kids’ playground when my children were little, the teens glared at me and kept doing it. Beaches usually have guidelines, but it’s hard to police common courtesy. The best thing you can do is teach your own children to see the world beyond theirs and look for the majority of people who are doing that, too. Sometimes the selfish people overshadow the many courteous ones. We can ask people to stop kicking sand and hope they’ll listen, or you can go get a lifeguard or another person on duty to help if it gets really bad.

HELEN’S ANSWER: You can always ask the children to run the other way and not kick up the sand near your blankets. Usually they will comply if an adult intervenes. Remind them to take the trash, too. Usually there is signage for trash, but people still need help in remembering.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, community volunteer: The behavior that you describe is probably typical at most beaches across the country. The parents or caregivers seemed negligent in their duty to oversee the children and to correct their conduct especially if they were out of control.

Next time, I suggest nicely asking the kids to please refrain from running on the blankets or move to different spot. Of course, you can simply choose another place down the beach.

As for the trash, I might have said something when they were leaving like, “Hey, you forgot a few things here.” It’s not aggressive but communicates that they need to take responsibility and do the right thing.

Ultimately, the adults need to be accountable but what’s acceptable to one may not be to another. Relax and try to remember, life’s a beach with lovely views and cool breezes.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email helen.wallace@cox.net.

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

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