Manners Matter: Tips for Dining Out With Kids

June 6, 2015 | by stephanie toews

No matter what the ages of your kids, dining out with them can be tricky. Hungry + children= potential disaster. Let’s face it even adults get a little angry (a.k.a. hangry) when we’re in need of sustenance. As a family who has dined out too many times to count with our kids, I hope to offer a few tips and tricks to make the whole experience much more enjoyable for all.

Restaurant Etiquette: Tips for Dining Out With Kids

  • Walk, don’t run- Teach your children never to run around when you’re in a restaurant. Unless it’s Chuck E. Cheese, it’s safer and more polite to keep them in their seats.
  • All about kids- Scope out restaurants with kids’ nights. There are a number of places in town that have discounted meals for kids on special nights of the week. Plus, an added bonus is there will likely be many more understanding families dining alongside yours.
  • Sanity saver- Bring crayons, books, cars or other activities for the kids to play quietly with while you’re waiting on the food. I love these printable placemats.
  • Ditch the cell phones- Put a no cellphone rule in place once you're seated. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a meal as a family and having everyone distracted by electronic devices. Try to engage each other without being glued to your phones the entire time.
  • Manners please- Teach your kids to politely order for themselves by speaking loudly and clearly. Encourage your kiddos to say please and thank you to the servers. Lead by example.
  • Time out- Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from the table if your child is causing a scene or just needs a change of scenery. Sometimes a walk outside or a trip to the car is just what is needed for kids to reset and return joyfully.
  • Timing is everything- If possible, try to plan your meal before the dinner rush. By going a bit earlier, you avoid long wait times and the kids won’t be at the point of no return by the time their meal arrives.
  • Snack pack- Having some snacks such as goldfish, crackers, or cereal on hand is great for the wait or while the food cools off.
  • Try, try again- If your dining out experience is less than enjoyable don’t give up. It won’t always be this hard. Once kids learn what is expected of them dining out can be a fun family time together.

I think one of my childhood favorite authors sums it up best: “Dining out though quite a treat is a lot of work for a bite to eat.” -The Berenstain Bears

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