Restaurant Dining with Children

Children in restaurants

Restaurant dining with children can be considered an act of bravery.  You never know - as a parent or a fellow diner - what may happen when small humans are in your vicinity.

However, for parents, dining out with your kids creates very important learning opportunities.  It is your chance to lead by example, as well as coach your young ones, on appropriate social behavior.

In restaurants, children can learn:

  • How to communicate clearly.  Let them practice ordering for themselves.  Teach them to enunciate at an appropriate volume, make eye contact with the wait staff, and to always say "please" and "thank you."
  • How to practice self-control.  It's not always easy to sit in a chair for an indefinite period of time.  Nor is it natural to control outbursts of curiosity and excitement.  Yet, in many public restaurants, both of these things are expected of all patrons.  Including children. 
  • Use restaurant dining as practice sessions for staying put and behaving.  If the "ants in the pants" overcome them, take your kids for a trip to the restroom, or step outside with them briefly to recalibrate.
  • Proper dining skills.  Practice the two dining styles with your children, how to hold their knife and fork, and other dining skills that will easily glide them through future social situations.  This is another opportunity to lead by example.

But restaurant dining is NOT this easy with my kids!

It may not start out easy, but you know what they say about practice . . .

Children are more perceptive than many of us give them credit for being.  If they know what is expected of them, and they know they will be held accountable for meeting those expectations, they will catch on quickly.

Begin your kids' dining out experiences at casual restaurants.  Help them build upon their experiences by increasing the formality of the establishment as they progress.  Before you know it, they'll be wowing everyone in fine restaurants.

Talk to Your Children

Before heading out to a restaurant, talk to your children about the event.

Tell them:

  • Where you are going and how long it might take to get there.
  • What situations they may encounter.  "The waiter will first ask what you want to drink, then he will come back to take your food order.  Do you want to try ordering for yourself or would you like Mommy to order for you?  We may have to wait for a table so I'll bring a book for you to read."
  • What is expected of them.  "We need to stay in our seats because other people may be disturbed if you keep getting up, we should use our inside voices, ask me quietly if you need to go to the restroom and I will take you."
  • The consequences.  No dessert is a popular one, but maintain your family rules and stick to them.

A positive restaurant experience with your kids is all about practice and good communication.

The Future Looks Bright

When your little angels master restaurant dining and other social situations, they gain a lot of positive attention.  People love socially adept children.

But you are also teaching your children to be mindful of the other people around them, therefore, creating kind, compassionate humans.  And if there's one thing the world needs more of, it's folks like that!

Who knew taking your children to restaurants could help them learn so much?

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