Home & Family

Going Out to Dinner with the Kids

Kids can sometimes be out of control in a restaurant setting, especially the younger ones, and most of the time they are unpredictable.  So many factors go into their behavior during that one hour when you hoped you could enjoy a break from cooking and the diversion from your routine.  Some kids handle these situations with grace, while others are a parent’s worst nightmare.

If you happen to have a child who is on the wild side, here are some pointers for dining out:

  • If the child is tired or cranky to begin with, don’t go.  It doesn’t help him to be in a noisy and new place when all he wants is the comfort of home.
  • Make sure to bring the kid when he’s hungry and ready to eat so he has half a chance of actually eating what you order him instead of running circles around the waitstaff.
  • Bring things for your child to do, like crayons and paper, puzzles, a picture book, etc.  It may not be fun for you to have to “work” at the table when you just want to kick back and have a tall cold one, but this is your child afterall and well, you did get out of cooking for a meal.
  • Order something you know the child will like.  This isn’t the time to insist your child try something new by ordering him Bhabaganouj.  Order him his fave spaghetti with butter, then try to get him to try something off your plate if you really want to be adventurous. 
  • If the child starts acting up before the food comes, just take him for a walk.  This whole restaurant thing is new to these guys, especially the itty bitty set.
  • If the child throws a tantrum, take your food to go and leave.  There is no point in prolonging the pain for anyone.

An excellent time to work on your child’s dining skills is at home.   Try to make dinner a family affair and be firm about the table rules.  Some good ones to hang up on your fridge include:

  • No getting up from the table until Mommy or Daddy say you may be excused.
  • Use an inside voice and no bathroom talk at the table.
  • No TV while eating dinner.  Let’s use this time to talk about our day.
  • One bite of everything before you decide you don’t like something.
  • When dinner is over, help clear your plate by bringing it to the sink.

Believe it or not, these rules help teach a child how to behave even before they have to learn about elbows on the table and napkins in the lap.  Also, don’t forget that kids are always watching you so set an example by doing what you are asking them to do.  Don’t get up during dinner to answer the phone or walk around the kitchen clearing up.  The minute you get up, it’s your kid’s signal that he can get up too.  These home habits will help the child get used to the routine when it comes time to go out and dine with the rest of the civilized world.

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