Of the many changes that occur in our lives when we start a family, one that people struggle with the most is the dining out experience. Mums and dads are still the same people, they want to go out and eat in nice places, but children are not always on board with the rules, especially when they are very young. We have all been to restaurants and watched parents struggle with their kids. We feel sympathy for them, and annoyance too. Partially this is the fault of the parents, who perhaps chose the wrong kind of restaurant to bring a child, or they have not spent time teaching their children how to behave in public. Here are some tips on successful dining out experiences with your children.
Choose your Restaurant Carefully: If you know your kids are likely to cause a scene, choose a place that is more family orientated and kid friendly. Fast food is an option, but you might not want to make the connection between going out and fast food. They will make you regret it. Buffets are a good choice. Buffets are generally less formal, they have kid friendly foods, and people are walking around all the time, so your children’s activity will be less noticeable. It might help to tell yourself that the family restaurant is their treat, and when you get a babysitter, you can go to a better restaurant, and that is your treat, while Catalina Rose Bay offers fine dining in Sydney. Then you will have more patience for the task at hand.
Prepare Ahead of Time: You need to consider going out strategically at first. In the planning stage you can begin coaching. Have some pretend restaurant meals at home, where the game is, everyone needs to be well behaved. Before you go out, pack a bag of critical supplies. The items that you know will get their attention and calm them down for a while, crayons and paper, or their favourite quiet toys. You will also have your phones with you, but you will have to decide how to use that tool, save it for a last resort, or a reward for good behaviour.
Include your Children in the Experience: Talk with them and include them in everything. Children usually get unruly when they are bored and aren’t getting any attention. This will cut into your own conversation but remember this is training for later.
Reward Them: If your evening out goes reasonably well, make sure they know you are proud of how they behaved, and let them have or do, whatever it is that you use for rewards. If things don’t go so well, give it some time, and try again. But don’t go to the point where you are ignoring the bad behaviour. You don’t want to be the one who is being trained. If you make the experience special, the dinner out will be reward enough.
Eventually you will be able to go to nicer places with confidence. Eating out is actually a very good way to teach children about behaving in public. If you can succeed with this, you can take them almost anywhere. And that is the sort of freedom worth working towards.