Tips for Eating out with Kids

 Everyone has seen rowdy, screaming children in a restaurant.  They interrupt other diners, fight, throw forks at strangers, and make it unpleasant to sit near them.  You want your children to act differently so you, and others, can enjoy the outing.

Taking your children to good restaurants is an important part of their upbringing.  They learn how to behave in public and get to practice table manners. 

Here are five helpful tips to make dining out a pleasure for your family and others.

Just take them

Do not wait for a special occasion.  Decide to take them on a regular basis.  Repetition helps them learn and practice the ways you expect them to behave.  Over the years, they develop poise when in public places. 

Discuss behavior ahead of time.

Tell your children what you expect of them.  Review with them the rules you expect them to follow, whether that means no fighting, use an inside voice, or whatever else you value. 

Also, remind them of proper table etiquette.   Empathize that you trust them to take responsibility for their actions and to make the experience pleasing to everyone.    You are teaching them skills that they need for a lifetime.

Entertain them

While waiting for the order to come, spend some quality time with the children.  Discuss the menu choices, play a quiet game with them, color together, talk about their day or school concerns.  Make all discussions pleasant.  This is not the time to scold or berate a child for misdeeds.

Engaging your children makes them feel important and quells boredom with consequent misbehavior.  Plan on more than one activity.  Children’s attention spans are short.

Order from the adult menu

Save the burger and fries and the grilled cheese sandwiches for a fast-food trip.  You want your child to experience different foods and appreciate new flavors and cooking methods.   Ask that the chef make a taste sample plate with smaller portions for your child.  Include some foods that he loves, but add something new.

Arrive early

Take advantage of early evening dining when there are fewer people and a more relaxed atmosphere.  Little appetites often cannot wait for dining at eight.  If necessary, get a table near the exit and close to the restrooms.  You will be able to remove an out-of-control child quickly. 

Be prepared to tip well.  Children are messy and it takes extra effort to clean spills and sweep up dropped crumbs.  The staff will appreciate this added courtesy.

Conclusion

If you follow these tips, you will be well on the way to introducing your children to a lifetime of adventurous good eating in restaurants.  They will, over time, develop poise and good manners and be welcome wherever they find themselves.  As adults, they will thank you for their good fortune.