How Going Out With Little Ones to a Restaurant Can be a Nightmare

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While going out to eat is a fun experience and a great way to enjoy some time out with the family.  Odds are there is a little sense of panic when bringing your little ones for a dinner out.  Will they throw a tantrum, or even worse, start throwing food at patrons?  Even the best-behaved children can be unpredictable at times and when they are young have not quite mastered all of the rules and manners of polite society.

Why Do Children Act Up at Restaurants?

To know how to deal with your kids on your next trip to a restaurant, it is important first to determine why your little one acts out.
One of the biggest challenges that your child has at restaurants is that they become bored.  Even with restaurants attempt to entertain kids through puzzles and colouring menus, it can only hold a child's attention for so long.  After eating they are most likely ready to be done and move onto more exciting play, and this is when you may see them crawling under the table or constantly asking to use the potty.
Children often act up in public when their schedule has been thrown off either due to less or more sleep or even a slight change in their daily routine.  
Children are used to more immediate gratification when they are young.  Depending on how busy the restaurant is, they may be made to wait longer than normal to be seated or to get their food.

How to Make Dining Out With Young Children Less of a Nightmare

To help keep your sanity during your next restaurant experience, try the tips below.
If your children tend to be unruly during your evenings out, try moving up dinnertime to an hour or so before the dinner rush.  You will be more likely to get your food promptly, and there will probably be fewer patrons in the restaurant to cause distractions.  Just makHow Going Out With Little Ones to a Restaurant Can be a Nightmaree sure that the new time fits around your child's eating and sleeping schedule.
Don't rely on the menu and crayons the restaurant provides, pack your own bag of fun instead.  While many parents don't advocate playing at the dinner table, it is perfectly fine to allow your children their toys before or after they have eaten.  Eating out is not the same as dinner at home, just let your child know when it is time to eat the toys will go up. 
Once you remove your child from their seat to go to the loo, it may be difficult to get them to return to it once you get back.  Also, if you have other young children, you may end up starting a parade to the toilet as they become bored and want to go somewhere else.  To avoid this, make sure your children take a trip to the toilet before they are seated.
If it is easier for you to contain your child in a booth rather than a seat, or you would like to sit in the corner where there are fewer distractions for your child, let the hostess know when they ask how many are in the party.  As long as they are not swamped, they should have no problem accommodating your request.
Before going out for the evening give your child a quick run through of what will happen and what is expected.  Let them know you are expecting them to listen, show good manners, and eat properly.  While this may not guarantee they will heed all of your requirements, repeated exposure to your expectations will help the child to understand how they are expected to act in public.
Many parents will try to calm their child down and just contain the situation to avoid any embarrassment.  Even when you are in public, it is important to let your child know that certain behaviour will not be tolerated.  If they need a time out, or just need to be removed from the situation to calm down, don't be embarrassed to take them outside or to the car for a little while.  While this may prove to be an inconvenience for your dinner, if they are made to learn the consequences of bad behaviour, they will eventually learn how they need to behave.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that it is OK to be embarrassed when your little one acts up at a restaurant, but also realise that this has happened to almost every parent at some time during their life.  You need to ignore comments or glances from other diners and reassure yourself that this kind of activity is an important part of teaching your child to behave not only in restaurants but other public venues as well.

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