Eating out with children

Eating out is an enjoyable way to relax and take pleasure in having a meal in a social environment. Going to a restaurant is seen as a treat, as it is a good way to enjoy a meal without any of the work involved. Being able to sit in comfort and relative peace is blissful. Many families enjoy eating out, as it is a good way to enjoy a meal together. Children need to behave in restaurants in respect of the other diners. Children are not always predictable, and they need to learn how to behave accordingly in certain situations. There are a few ways to get your child to behave whilst in a restaurant to make the dining experience pleasant.

How can you get your child to behave in a restaurant?

Practice at home

If you expect your child to behave in a restaurant, you need to expect him or her to behave at mealtimes at home. If not, it will come as a surprise to your child when you decide to visit a restaurant. Practice appropriate table behavior each and every day, as mealtimes are the one time that children need to learn to sit and behave appropriately, whether at home or out. Gently remind your child to sit properly and wait nicely for the food to be served. Also correct your child at the table when eating if necessary. There is no need to expect perfection, as children are, after all, children. A little bit of laughter at the table is good, and children should not expect to be rigid and feel uneasy.

Entertain your child

Children need to be kept busy, sitting around with little to do can soon become boring. This can lead to unwanted behavior, especially if your child is hungry. Whilst many restaurants provide a coloring page and some crayons, this activity only lasts a short time. In order to keep your child busy and prevent boredom, either have a few toys, reading books or a coloring book. Having something for your child to do can keep her occupied whilst waiting for the food. Quiet toys that are easy to carry are best, even a couple of new toys that are kept just for these types of occasions are a good idea, as they become special.

Set the example

If you expect your children to be on his or her best behavior, then you also need to be on yours. Setting the example is important to allow your child to follow your lead. You find that naturally you behave in a more refined way whilst dining out, as you are in a social setting. Sitting appropriately and behaving accordingly comes naturally for adults. Be positive when informing your child to sit at the table. It does no harm for your child to play quietly on the floor alongside the table, as long as it isn’t disturbing other diners. Once the meal arrives, your child should be expected to sit at the table until everyone is finished.

Explain the importance of behaving

Forewarn your child that you are going to a restaurant, and explain to him or her that he or she must be on his or her best behavior. Refrain from giving your child a lecture, rather tell her how exciting it is to be going out to dinner. Let your child know how to behave in a restaurant, and let him or her know it is a special event. By getting your child excited and letting him or her know how to behave gives him or her the understanding of what is expected. You can even select special outfits to dress for dinner to make your child realize that this is different from eating at home. Refrain from putting doubt in your child’s mind, remain positive and let him or her believe that this is a positive event where he or she can be included.

Be relaxed and positive

You cannot expect young children to behave perfectly at all times no matter the situation. However, what you deem as unwanted behavior in a social situation is probably innocent and not worth fretting over. If you feel uptight and scorn your child for every little thing, he or she is likely to feel uneasy and awkward. Your child can sense how you are feeling, if he or she feels that you are unhappy with him or her she is likely to continue acting out. Whereas, if you lighten up and see that really he or she is doing no harm and the other diners are oblivious to you and your family, you will realize that it really is okay for him or her to have a little fun.

Unwanted behavior

If your child does act in a way that really is unwanted, or if he or she becomes restless, direct his or her attention and take your child for a wander whilst waiting for the food. If your child becomes grizzly for one reason or another, remain calm to prevent amplifying the situation. If your child thinks you are angry he or she is likely to become more distressed, which only makes it more difficult for you to resolve the problem. Be gentle and handle the situation in a calm and controlled way to allow your child to find control again. It is better all round to keep your child entertained to prevent unwanted behavior.

It is unrealistic to expect children to sit perfectly and quietly during a meal. Putting your expectations too high can make you feel tense and uptight. Remember that children have a place too, and they can act appropriately for their age. Allowing a little fun and movement shouldn’t be dissuaded, as the experience wouldn’t be as memorable and enjoyable.