Are we too scared to discipline our children? Uproar after owner of South Kiosk at Martello Park, Felixstowe posts warning to parents of ‘unruly’ children on Facebook

The South Kiosk in Martello Park, Felixstowe.

The South Kiosk in Martello Park, Felixstowe.

A seafront kiosk owner has defended her actions after writing a provocative Facebook post about parents who are “too scared to discipline their children”.

Kim Christofi, who owns South Kiosk at Martello Park in Felixstowe, yesterday posted on the social media site: “Can we make ourselves perfectly clear to all parents who are too scared to discipline their children about tantrum screaming.

We will give you five lenient minutes to ask the child to stop screaming and then we will ask the child ourselves.

If that means you too having a tantrum about our having to speak to your child and hurling threats about not returning - that’s really okay with us. We have a duty of care to the rest of our customers.” The post caused uproar with more than 1,000 shares and comments, although it was removed late last night.

One Facebook user, C Rachael Twoms, wrote: “Why don’t you take a lenient five minutes to have a word with yourself for being hideously insensitive and condescending?”

Another, Sally Grant, posted: “Thank you for your kind and understanding post. I’ll make sure my family (including our autistic daughter) never darken your doorway.”

Speaking today, Ms Christofi said “we love children, all children”.

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“South Kiosk is an extremely child-friendly business; this is demonstrated by the toy boxes we provide at the Kiosk, free jugs of Ribena, free ice cream, sun factor cream freely available, First Aid kits to hand; and by our local support to the children’s organisation in Needham Market, the Children of Chernobyl,” she added. “We are massive campaigners for the abolition of human trafficking in children in Cambodia and we financially support the NSPCC.”

Ms Christofi said the Facebook post for prompted by a family whose child became “very upset, threw a tantrum and it went on for some time”.

She added: “In this situation, we initially do not get involved because we anticipate that the parents will step in.

“Unfortunately, the parents did not and that led me to go and have a quiet word with the child, gently and sensitively.

“To completely ignore this hysterical screaming would have been quite frankly unkind and uncaring to the child.

“We accept that it’s tough being a parent; ignoring your child in distress is not something we would encourage.

“Customers often look to the owner of an establishment for support and if a parent is ignoring their child, it leaves us little choice but to step in. We’re not here to judge any parent or carer; we will always wait for parents to step in.

“We genuinely care for children, and any child can have a bad day and we’re sensitive about that.

“The situations I am describing are not children having a bad day; we are talking about children smashing up the toy box, throwing things around and in this situation, we expect parents to step in.

“We have a duty to all our customers and we are in a public place. We have never asked any family to leave and in all circumstances when the child is being ignored by the parents/carers, we try and calm the situation down by offering a drink and some colouring books and peace is resumed.”

Speaking about children with special needs, Ms Christofi said: “The caring parents of autistic children that I meet on a daily basis go to great lengths and make every attempt to explain to us about their child’s behaviour, and so of course we work with that parent and give them our full support.”

She added: “I would like to thank our supporters and local businesses that have called in to Suffolk Radio and other media outlets in support of this discussion; it’s been a difficult time because of the abuse we have received and it is clearly an issue that has affected lots of other people, parents, customers and the public in general.”

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