Nov 16
Parenting Paragraph – My kids are horrible at restaurants

Q: I can’t get my kids to stay seated in a restaurant!  It disturbs other people because they are so out of control, but I can’t stop them. How do I get them to behave?

A. Great question! Remember you are the parent and you set the standards for behavior at the table and elsewhere.  Here are some tips that will help.

#1 – The way you do anything is the way you do everything – success at a restaurant begins during dinner at home.  It’s important you are clear about your standards for table behavior when you are home.  Some standards include:

  • eating dinner at the table each night (not in front of the TV);
  • everyone sits for the entire meal (no getting in and out of their chair, getting a toy, being disruptive, etc.);
  • using utensils to eat;
  • everyone remains at the table until the last person eating has finished their meal (regardless of your child’s age);
  • no electronic devices (if you don’t want them to be on their phones at the table as tweens, teens and adults don’t let them start as small children)

#2 – Start young – many new parents hesitate to take babies and toddlers out to eat and yet exposure is the best teacher.  If you enjoy dining out then any age is the perfect age to bring your child to a restaurant.

#3 – Set them up for success – often parents unintentionally put kids into situations that amplify the child at his/her worst.

  • give your child an opportunity to exert his/her energy prior to sitting down for a meal – intentionally have them run around, play and be crazy at home at least one hour before you head to the restaurant;
  • have small snacks on hand – there is nothing more disruptive than a “starving” child, so give him/her a small snack prior to going out or while you are waiting for the meal to be served;
  • be sure you have items to entertain them including, but not limited to, crayons and coloring books, small toys such as Legos, Matchbox cars, small doll or stuffed animal, or a book to read. (DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILD ELECTRONIC DEVICES as table entertainment – revisit #1)
  • avoid dining out during the “witching hour” – typically there is a time of day when kids (especially toddlers) are more excitable, more tired and/or more irritable than other times.  Avoid eating in public when you anticipate your child may be at his/her worst.

Remember, sometimes a negative dining situation is unavoidable – for example eating out with extended family after a long car ride or when your child is exhausted from a lot of activity – it’s important during these situations to be understanding of your child and kind to yourself. Success is when out of control behavior becomes the anomaly and you can dine out confidently knowing you will enjoy your kids and your meal.

laughingLaura Treonze, serves as Chief Life Strategist with LMT Consulting, which helps executives and teams create massive success through self-awareness. Her life-changing approach has transformed individuals and families and has redefined the way non-profits and corporations “do” business.