Taking kids to a restaurant for a meal is a special treat. We all hope the kids will behave appropriately while out to eat, but as most parents have experienced, this isn’t always what happens. While at home, it’s not nearly as rude or embarrassing when the kids act up or have poor manners during mealtime, but when dining out, good behavior is the key to a successful and enjoyable experience for your family and those around you. Here are some tips to get the kids to exercise proper restaurant etiquette and how you can enforce the same behavior time and time again. Bon appetit!
Practice at Home
The best way to be sure kids will behave properly in restaurants is to practice the same type of behavior you expect while out at home. The kids should always say “please” and “thank you.” Teach the kids to eat tidily and without talking with a mouth full. They must remain seated until everyone is finished eating. Do not allow your child to fidget or play with food. There will be no fighting with siblings or refusal of the food they are served. Sure, this sounds like a fantasy, but the more practice the kids get, the more used to behaving during mealtime they’ll become. Don’t expect every meal to be perfect, this will take time and plenty of tries before the kids get it as close to acceptable as you’ll take it. Once they are well-trained at home, try dining out at kid-friendly restaurants and casual establishments.
Kids respond well to rewards for good behavior. Promise the kids that if they follow the rules and behave well while dining out, they can watch a TV show when they get home or share an ice cream sundae for dessert. Another reward could be that they can order something from the adult menu next time or help choose the restaurant. When the kids have something to look forward to and know they have the power to make it happen, you’ll be surprised just how well-behaved they can be while eating out.
Bring Along Distractions
A great way to keep kids in line and out of trouble while dining out is to bring along some restaurant-appropriate toys, games, and other items to keep the kids busy while waiting for food to come and between courses. Try a small coloring book, an electronic tablet, a little figurine, or a word game. Many restaurants with kid-friendly atmospheres will offer a placemat to color on or one with puzzles and games on them. It’s understandable that kids want to be kept entertained, so if this keeps the kids from whining or fidgeting, by all means bring along some stuff. You can also take a small baggie of dry cereal or fruit snacks if the kids get hungry before the food comes out from the kitchen.
How do you get your kids to behave properly while out at restaurants? Have you ever had to remove the kids from the restaurant due to impossible behavior? We’d love to hear your story.
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By: Melissa A. Kay