These money-grabbing companies have decided that childhood should end somewhere between 8 and 16 (and usually at 12 for some reason)...but strangely, our adult-children get no extra perks except for having the privilege of paying a higher price than their infant equivalents; indeed, most of these companies also state that children under 16 or 18 must be accompanied by an adult. If they'e paying an adult price, surely they should count as an adult?
These seem to have the widest variation in age restrictions, with some restaurants even deciding on eligibility for kids' meals by height, which is hardly fair!
I've always tended to ignore these age requirements and if my girls want a kids' meal, I order them one, however some places are stricter about this than others. Take Disney for example - in the magical world of Disney dining, childhood officially ends at just 10 years of age! This actually worked to our advantage when we were there, as we got free dining, so then 10 year old Miss Kahonie qualified for adults' meals, which had better menu choices for vegetarians. Those with fussy eaters may well want to order from the kids' menu though. This is possible, but only if you've paid for an adult meal! Surely parents should be able to choose whether their child eats from the kids' or adults' menu and pay accordingly?
It would also be nice to be able to order a smaller or half portion from the adults' menu, especially for tweens and young teens. Some Indian and Italian restaurants offer this option, but this still seems a rarity in the UK.
Theme parks, tourist attractions and museums
Most UK theme parks seem to have come to the agreement that childhood ends at 12, whereas major tourist attractions and museums (with an entry fee) seem to prefer to end childhood at 14 or 16.
The exceptions to this are of course the US theme parks, including Disney and Universal Studios, where childhood again ends at the tender age of 10. Even though you'll have to pay full price for your 10 year old, they won't be able to go on all the rides, as these have height restrictions.
Holidays and flights
12 seems to be the general cut off for most airlines and budget tour operators, whereas 16 seems to be the cut off for most major travel agents. Do 13 year olds, suddenly take up more space on a plane?
I would like to see a national age limit of 16 or 18 (if still in full time education) set for child prices in the UK. Of course most 16 year olds won't want a kids' meal, but they should certainly be charged a child's rate when visiting tourist attractions - after all, it's us parents who pay for them to get in!
So there you go. Rant over for now.
Do let me know the most outrageous and annoying kids' age restrictions you've come across, by leaving me a comment.
Just in case you were wondering when childhood officially ends, here's the NSPCC's Legal definition of a child'.