I recently saw an article in which a parent said that she permits her kids to make as much noise as they want no matter where they are. They, after all, just kids she said.
My response is, “No Way!” It’s our job to teacher children how to behave in ways that are appropriate in any given situation. It is also our job, to recognize their particular needs depending on their ages and the circumstances.
Eating Out With Kids
I recently received a letter from a gentleman asking the question, “When is it appropriate to kick someone out of a restaurant? If there were someone drunk and causing a ruckus they would be asked to leave. Why not children, parents and guardians that chose not to control their little terrors’ behaviour?“
He was eating in a family restaurant and understood there would be children present. But the noise level from one family was, in his view, simply over the top.
What is appropriate, expected and permissible for children in a family restaurant? Let’s face it. Kids are not going to sit quietly, conversing with others at the table, waiting patiently for their meals to appear.
On the other hand, yelling and screaming or madly running around the place is not acceptable behavior.
When we take our children to a restaurant there are actions we can take to make the experience wonderful for us, them and other patrons.
Timing is the first consideration. Bring your kids just before they are famished or bring a snack with you. Hungry kids are not patient kids so going out for a meal just before they are ready to eat works best. On the other hand, you want to time the meal so that when it does arrive they are ready to eat.
One family I knew used to take the kids to a family restaurant in their neighbourhood and they would order by phone ahead of time. That way, when they arrived right at dinnertime the table was ready and they only had to wait minutes for the meals to come out of the kitchen.
When your child is a baby, choosing a booth works best. A booth will give you space for her baby seat and booths are a bit darker so it’s easier for her to nap. It’s also more private for when you are nursing her.
Whether you can plan your meal around her nap or not, bring plenty of supplies. Plan for her to be awake the whole time. Bring diapers and wipes, a blanket (in case the restaurant is drafty), extra drinks if she’s drinking juice or water and soft quiet toys that you know she enjoys.
Place her so that she can see what’s going on. She will love looking at all the people and activity and doubtless there will be folks who will want to smile at her and make silly faces.
It gets more challenging with toddlers and preschoolers. They aren’t satisfied to simply sit and look around; they want to be active and to be entertained. Some family restaurants provide quiet activities such as a paper place mats and crayons so the children can colour while waiting. But don’t count on it.
Besides all the supplies you would bring with a baby, bring toys. Soft picture books, crayons and colouring books are good choices.
Avoid noisy or hard plastic toys. You want her engaged but not noisy.
Sitting still is not a talent exhibited by most kids. So, take them for a walk after you order your meal. Go to the washroom (kids love to see bathrooms even if they don’t need to use them) or walk around outside the building.
I’ve seen parents arrive with their kids and then simply ignore them. The adults are chatting away and expecting their kids will just sit quietly and wait for their food, and then eat equally quietly. In these situations, kids are virtually guaranteed to behave badly, just to get some attention. They are reminding their folks that they are also present.
And don’t suddenly expect your children to demonstrate better table behaviours in restaurants than they do at home. If mealtimes are chaos at home, that’s where you need to do the work to improve manners, not at the restaurant.
However, if the parents involve their children in conversation, it’s so pleasant. Everyone is chatting and smiling and laughing and having a great time. Treat your children with the same respect as you do the other adults and you will have a lovely meal.
Taking kids out to restaurants (other than the obvious fast food spots) is great. You get a break from cooking and your children are learning how to behave while eating in public.
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday, having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal.I always have my kindle with me when I travel.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format.
Who’s in Charge Anyway?talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
Vive La Différence talks about unique problems such as a shy child or a sick one and how you can adjust your parenting to meet her need
The books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.