37 answers

Proper Restaurant Etiquette for Children

I am just asking because I really do not know. When someone kid is acting up- I mean what you would expect from a young toddler/child- I just blow it off. It does not bother me. Now if someones older child was throwing a tantrum and throwing food I would be thinking they need to remove the child.
just curious...what is acceptable according to age? I'm wondering because sometimes when my kids "act up" I just try to calm them down but I always assume that people understand. And I was also under the impression that it was more exceptable for them to make a little noise at a buffet than it would be at a quiet rest. like Ruby Tues. and such.
When I say "act up" I mean crying because they want ice cream or want out of their high chair. A few weeks ago we were at a Chinese buffet and my 3 year old wanted out of his high chair and pitched a fit. He was whining really loudly and I was about to lose my temper with him. I just wanted to finish my food in peace and I wanted him to flippin' eat! He normally chows down when we get Chinese. I was so aggravated, I grabbed him under his arms and attempted to get him outta the high chair. His freaking shoes got stuck because he was acting like a rag doll, not helping me what so ever and I was getting tired from holding the 40 child up in the air trying to get his flippin' shoes outta the flippin' high chair. (just writing this and thinking about it is making me mad). He can be so frustrating sometimes. So I gritted my teeth and told him in my-I might hurt you if you do not cooperate voice-(not that I would ever but you get the tone) "help me get you out, you are not helping!" Finally, I got him out and he stopped carrying on. I sat him in my lap and finished my dinner as he continued to ask for ice cream. (he got none) and I want to mention that he is "on the spectrum" not that it is A. excuse but it makes communication harder for us.
So then after all was said and done and we gave everyone a show, people kept looking at me and my kids. I asked my husband if there was something I did wrong in handling the situation. and he said no.
What do you think?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

WOW..PERFECT RESPONSES! Thanks so much for all the input. He did not whine for very long at all....like I got him up as soon as he started whining but we were getting ready to have desert and leave and were running kinda late on our nightly routine. Going to dinner that night was kinda a last minute decision as we were on our way home from all day errands. So yea, not the best night to take the kids to a restaurant I guess. I was a little self consious actually that they were looking at u because of the way I spoke to my son. I did feel really bad but I was aggravated with him because I was hoping he would actually eat since it was chinese like the only thing he eats! and when he was asking for ice cream already, i knew he was not going to eat his meal.
i will take him out for now on....first thing. if you cry or bang your utensils on the table you go outside. period.

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Once we watched a couple in IHOP say "You want cake?" before they literally threw their 2 year old girl a pancake on the dirty floor.

NOT ACCEPTABLE. LOL

I would not keep staring at you because you got the kid to stop crying.
IF you had let him cry, I would have been annoyed that you didn't take him out.

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To teach a child that all he has to do is get a little out of line and he gets what he wants may not be the thing you meant to teach him in this instance but it's what you did.

I would have taken him out and when hubby finished I would have traded places with him so I could finish eating.

That is truly what we do. Ever since taking Love and Logic classes I try really hard to let the consequences be a better choice.

He wanted out of the high chair, you didn't, he kept at it, you took him out of the chair. He got what he wanted. Taking him to the car instead would have reinforced the idea that the chair is the best place to be instead of "if I get loud mom will let me sit on her lap".

Once you do the car a couple of times all you'll have to do when he's starting to act up is say "Car or highchair?" and he'll stop.

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Most restaurants are like airplanes, so long as the parents are trying most people don't care if there is a bit of bad behavior. It is when junior is acting up and mom and dad are smiling like everyone is enjoying junior when people get angry.

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You or your husband should have removed him from the restaurant the minute he started acting up. I know you wanted to finish your meal in peace, so did everyone else in the restaurant.

When there are two parents or adults present and a child starts acting up (young or old), they need to be taken outside or to the car. It's tag team situation, when you finish, it's dad's turn to eat...Maybe by that time your child has calmed down and deserves some ice cream.

People don't spend money out to listen or observe other people's children throwing fits.

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i'm so over parents who insist it's their 'right' to eat out, even if their children are disturbing everyone else, because they're paying too, or they haven't been out in a long time, or no one else understands their circumstances, or any of the other 536 lame excuses that people give for feeling entitled to ruin everyone else's dining experience.
of course children are not automatons. children wiggle, whine, complain, get excited and occasionally throw things. there are even restaurants where this is expected and can easily be accommodated. if you're NOT in one of those, remove your child from the dining room. if your child is not going to settle down, get your meal boxed and go home.
of course children learn how to behave in restaurants by GOING to restaurants. that doesn't mean you just go to a nice restaurant and let them behave like hairy-assed apes while they figure it out. you start learning at home and move up from fast-food to bob evans and so forth. they learn how to drive by driving, but you don't just hand them the keys and sit back and smile, do you?
even if you haven't been out in ages or your child is 'on the spectrum' or it's your birthday or you've been broke and just got enough money to go out, you're still not entitled to wreak havoc on everyone else's time out. you don't know if the woman at the next table who is evil-eyeing you for your child screaming and throwing rolls has just got a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, do you?
take responsibility for your own children and don't expect the world to smile and indulge their bad behavior.
ETA your situation doesn't sound too horrible, C., but i'd still have removed him from the restaurant if he was whining loudly. my response was mostly triggered by some of the responses.
khairete
S.

10 moms found this helpful

Personally, I don't think a child should disrupt any diner's meal. We have been taking my son out to eat since he was 4 weeks old (he didn't actually eat at that point). We have never gone to child friendly restaurants and we have never disturbed other diners. If he was restless or seeming like he might become noisy - we went outside. He learned what appropriate behavior and speaking volume was at restaurants at about the same time he learned to speak. We have NEVER let him run around at a restaurant and no children run around at our regular Chinese restaurant where we are in fact, regulars.

I do NOT understand when I go out to dinner and children are crying, screaming or running around. Their parents should take them out. I am paying for a pleasant meal in a restaurant atmosphere. If your child cannot behave, you should seriously get a baby sitter. That said, my son has eaten at some of the nicest restaurants in numerous cities without any sort of incident. Perhaps we are lucky. But children also do live up (or down) to expectations. And no, we do not punish, yell or swat at him.

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I do not accept for kids of any age past infancy (read young babies) to make a fuss in a restaurant. Noise is ok (talking, singing, laughing...) but throwing a fit is not.

If your 3 year old was my DD the fit in the high chair would have landed her in the car for a time out until she calmed down. Putting him on your lap is rewarding him for bad behavior.

I have had many interrupted meals when DD was younger because I do not put up with bad behavior when we are out to eat. If she can't behave we either take a time out in the car or get our food to go and leave (without dessert).
But she is almost 5 now and loves going to restaurants and is very well behaved. Maybe not perfect table manners (I don't expect that) but she will not bother other patrons, scream, whine or run around - even if she is hungry and there is a bit of a wait.

Parenting is often inconvenient, but if you get all of that out of the way in the early years, you will get to enjoy your kids a lot more later on.

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Our rules for restaurants:

Be safe. NO running. Sit on bottom (or kneeling, if necessary). No laying all over the booth. Keep things in our area, on our table.

Use a volume which respects other patrons. Some places are louder than others, so we might need to raise our voices a little to hear each other, but we don't need to be the loudest people in the room.

Leave other diners to enjoy their food in peace. They didn't come here to make friends, so you can be friendly, but let them eat and have their own time together.

Use your words. My son is five, so asking him to express his frustration verbally is equal to his ability. If we had loud tears, I would take him to a quieter place (restroom, car) depending on what was happening.

Respect the space of others.

NOW, that said, here are the rules *for the adults* that we follow:

No taking Kiddo to a restaurant if he's tired or out of sorts. If we are already having a hard day, take out is better. Food out of a box or a freezer is better, really.

No taking Kiddo to a restaurant with nothing to do. That's not fair to anyone. If there's nothing on hand, find ways to pay attention to him which help him learn table conversation.

In your situation, I might have looked over (because when there's a ruckus, people generally look) and then decided you had things in hand and ignored it. I don't get upset when I see parents actively addressing acting-out behaviors. What bothers me more is parents ignoring their own children or repeatedly threatening to leave and then not leaving. I figure, unless their kid is grossly sick or the parents are oblivious (and some are!), I mind my own business.
ETA: and another awesome answer from Riley regarding levels of conduct per situation!

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If my children had a tantrum in a restaurant when they were tiny, they'd have been removed. I remember my daughter being 2 or 3 and not behaving on one occasion, and I took her out while my husband ate his meal, and then we switched places. A total meltdown, for me, would not be okay in any restaurant. I don't pay to go out to eat to listen to that. When my kids were little, I didn't feel that my desire to eat at a restaurant with little kids topped the rights of the other paying diners. Now, if I'm eating at a fast food restaurant, I expect a lot of kid noise. In a family friendly place like a diner, Friendlys, Applebees, I also expect kid noise. I never expect screeching, a kid kicking the back of my booth or reaching over it to pull my hair or drop food on me. I don't expect kids to be running around, unless it's Chuck E Cheese or the playground area of McDonalds.

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I didn't go to restaurants with my daughter because I didn't feel she acted appropriately. I didn't feel it was right to allow her to scream and cry during other peoples free time out. So, unless I was without a child, I ate at home.

At the same time, when I am out and I see kids, I do ask to be seated on the other end of the room.

Just my honest opinion.

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My 3 year old is terrible just about anywhere we go. So, that being said, we usually do not go out, especially to restaurants, when he is with us. Likewise, I usually do my grocery shopping at odd times when I have him so that I don't get people who make rude comments or shoot me dirty looks. I've learned that it comes with the territory of having a high maintenance child. If a situation arises like a special occasion, where we HAVE to go out to eat, we line up a babysitter. Unfortunately, I think you will probably have to not eat out until he learns to behave properly. Thank goodness for drive up carry outs. It's sad, but many people do not understand how difficult it is to be the parent of a high maintenance child and sometimes we, the parents, just need to get out and enjoy life:(

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I have different rules for my own son, than I do for other people's kids.

For my own son it SERIOUSLY depends on the restaurant. For example; Canliss is High (Western) Manners, and DimSum is ChineseRules, and McDonalds is SchoolRules / PicNicRules.

High Western Manners include things like:

- Sitting up straight
- Mellow voices
- Asking others if they want X, when you want X, before asking for X (or taking if it's near you)
- Making eye contact at nearly all times
- Left or Switch with flatware
- Outside in
- etc.

ChineseRules mean that dinner is playtime either by yourself or with children from other tables. Nosh, play, nosh, play. Note: In most asian cultures it is VERY RUDE to eat quietly, so in most asian restaurants, we try to eat with as much crunching, smacking, and slurping as possible.

McDonalds is casual seating (lounging. forearms & elbows won't get askance looks), louder voices / antics are totally acceptable, waiting turns, etc.

____

I have A. ADHD kid... so it's been very easy in restaurants. He's a very keen observer, and he likes the 'game' of different rules in different locales.

____

For OPK's... I follow Jo W's AirplanRule. As long as other parents are trying EVEN IF IT'S NOT WHAT I WOULD DO in the same situation, they get a pass.

**Except** when there's a 'new' white family at our dim sum place. Oftentimes westerners don't know that it's encouraged for children to play in 'real' chinese restaurants. This is a huge place, but we're usually the only white folk there. When I see a family with young kids, I usually whisper to the mom so the kids can't hear that management encourages children to play and run around. I've done this may 6 or 7 times out of the few hundred times we've gone (it's dim sum, cheaper than cooking at home!). EACH time, stressed out mom kind of looks up, looks around at all the other kids like she's seeing them for the first time and breathes a HUGE sigh of relief. Soon enough, their kids are running around with everyone else's.

I whisper it, because as a parent

a) I take odd times to teach manners (randomly requiring xyz level even though we're at abc place... like high society on a pic nic), and it's not my place to tell anyone what level they should be asking of their kids

b) It's rude to get kids excited about something their parents are going to say 'no' to. Both to the kids and parents.

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Littluns are going to have occasional public meltdowns, autistic or not. You do what you can to calm them down without giving in to the tantrum, and if you can't calm them, you leave.
You managed to get your son calmed and not give in to the tantrum. Count taht as a win.

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I missed the memo. Its okay to have children run around in A. Asian restaurant? Huh? I would not like to eat there.

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Personally I don't think it's acceptable for my child to "put on a show" during anyone else's meal. Therefore, when they were little and we were at a restaurant, if they began acting up I would give them a warning that went something like this, "You may not do this and if you continue I will pick you up and carry you out to the car, and we will not be eating here. We will sit in the car until Daddy and your siblings are finished and then we will go home. Do you want to do that?" If they didn't calm down, I would do precisely that. After doing it one time, I never had to do it again. And, mind you I only had to make A. example out of one of my children and the others knew I meant business. From that point on, we never ever had any issues with eating out.

We also expect proper table manners at our house too, so when the kids misbehave at home we simply send them to their rooms for the remainder of the meal so that the rest of us can eat in peace.

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I think what I would suggest you might have done differently that night would be: Remove him instantly, not after he'd been whining for a while (sounds like it went on a bit before you pulled him out). Whining above a regular-voice volume: one warning, then out. Completely out -- out of the chair but also out of the restaurant, because as another poster noted, he got exactly what HE wanted when you held him on your lap in the restaurant.

If the shoes got stuck: Your husband whips them off his feet and hands them to you while you whisk son outside very swiftly; you stay outside and husband eats fast to come out and tag-team with you, taking son so you can go inside and eat. No hesitation, swift removal, no fuss with the shoes (if he wants to "go ragdoll" on you, off come the shoes and he's gone). And I'd keep talk or interaction to a bare minimum while he is held outside -- held, not allowed to run around, etc. Of course you and your husband need to plan in advance exactly how you'll handle it IF this happens again, so there's nothing like, "Oh, leave him there!" or "What, you want me to pull off his shoes now? What?" Dither or discuss and son will fuss worse, knowing you and dad are not on the same page.

Often removing a child very abruptly (after one fair warning) is enough to shock the kid into being quiet or at least getting a wake-up call. One second junior is fussing and the next, whoa, he's up in the air being borne outside when he was just in the middle of a good old whine! Then you have to do it every time the behavior repeats. Most kids will quickly understand that if they fuss, instant removal results and it is not a "fun" removal - they will not be taken out to run around or play or get down on the floor but to be held in silence. But being very fast and abrupt is kind of important, I think -- the term the British use is the "short sharp shock" that really gets attention.

You did not cave on the ice cream and that's very good. But next time I'd set A. expectation before you even leave the house that for any child who asks more than once for something that is denied, or who raises a voice above a certain level, removal will be instant and will not be pleasant.

Nice for you and dad? Not at all, but it should not last forever, and other diners will thank you greatly, and you individually will both get to eat without stares.

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Of course fellow parents have more sympathy than non parents, but that doesn't excuse us for not showing respect and courtesy to the people around us.
When we found ourselves with A. inconsolable crying baby or a toddler with a meltdown, we picked the kid up and took him/ her outside. If it didn't stop then we tag teamed the rest of the meal, taking turns at the table with the other kids and food so we could both eat. Luckily it didn't happen that often but when it did that's how we handled it.
Same thing in a store, movie theater or any other public place. It sucks when your kids act up but there's no reason to make the entire establishment suffer.
I'm wondering why your three year old is in a high chair to begin with, maybe that's part of the problem? Is he not able to sit upright on a regular seat or at least booster seat because of his spectrum issues? I would imagine a high chair feels very confining to him at that age.
ETA: obviously this method doesn't work on a plane or train or any other situation where you are confined with other people. But I do believe if you have the option to remove the child from the situation then do it!

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Oh my. From your description, it probably appeared to the people in the restaurant that you were too angry at your child and they may have been wondering how far you would have gone to discipline him. I am not saying that you would have hurt your child or that your temper would have gotten the best of you in terms of your punishment. I'm saying that it probably looked like that to the people there.

If I saw a mom do what you did, I would probably wonder the same thing.

So, what to do? Stop getting so angry about his antics. It's harder on you and your child because he's on the spectrum. That doesn't mean that I'm saying to excuse the behavior. However, understand that he has differences and stop getting so angry about it. He's probably NOT going to try to help you get him out of the high chair - just expect that. He's 3 - not 5. Remove the tray first, keep your voice level, and don't talk to him so much. If the people around you see a cool exterior rather than you about ready to blow your stack, they will empathize with YOU rather than empathizing with your son.

Who do you have working with you and your son? Talk to them about helping you help your son to understand the consequence of misbehaving at the table and withholding dessert. It doesn't do any good to withhold the dessert if he can't make the connection between bad behavior and not getting any. It could be that they can work with you to help you get that across to him. I'm not sure how old a child needs to be to get that connection, but I don't know that your son is "there", to be honest.

Your husband probably doesn't think there's a problem because he's used to seeing you do this. The other people aren't.

Good luck,
D.

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I wasn't there, so I can only guess at what it was that caused people to be giving you looks ("people kept looking at me and my kids").
There are a couple of things that cross my mind:
1) You didn't say how long and how long it went on when he "pitched a fit" and was "whining really loudly". Maybe it was excessively long before you gave in and took him out of the high chair. Maybe his whining sounded to others more like screeching (honestly, some kids make sounds that sound like they are in physical pain over nothing, some kids don't. So the actual SOUND he was making when whining could have made other people think he was hurt, not just unhappy. Also, the actual sound he was making might have hurt some people's ears... certain pitches of squealing make me cringe).
And
2) Perhaps the tone or YOUR voice when you were irritated/aggravated, that "I might hurt you if you do not cooperate voice", might have sounded like you might hurt him to the other patrons in the restaurant, and they were concerned for him.

Neither means that you did anything wrong.

But either (or both) might be why people were looking at you.

ETA: just noticed that your son was 3. Didn't catch that the first reading... that may be another reason they were looking. Most 3 yr olds aren't using the high chairs anymore, I don't think. Mine weren't. Maybe they thought it was odd, and therefore even more confusing when you were angry you had a hard time getting him out...'cause he was too big to fit in the first place?

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At any sit down restaurant, I would like to eat my meal without it being disturbed by screaming and crying. At a kid friendly place, noise is ok.
If my children had been prone to doing that, I would not take them to a restaurant. We were very fortunate that that never happened with our children. If it had we would have left.

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My children were definitely raised to behave in restaurants. We travelled extensively and they were in some very high class establishments. If one started acting up, they were taken out until they calmed down. We only had to do that a couple of times because being out in the car or going back to the hotel room was not as fun as being in the restaurant for a nice meal.

That said, they also got to go to places like Chuck E Cheese's where it was all about having fun and running around to A. extent. However, when it was time to sit down and eat, they did. If they wanted to play, they had to sit and eat and then they could go back to having fun. Even at high chair age, they knew when to be calm and not fiddle and fuss. Or....they were taken out.

It sounds like you diffused the situation properly. Each of these situations are learning experiences for your child, on the spectrum or not.
I have a friend whose 6 year old had never yet been taken to a restaurant because he wasn't behaved at home during meal time and she didn't want to deal with the whole restaurant thing. He is a completely normal and intelligent child, but he is a bit of a whirling dervish who is A. only child and spoiled rotten and been allowed to act so in everyday life. I understand being wary of possible scenes in a restaurant, but I also feel that she did her child a bit of a disservice in never exposing him to dining out and learning to behave while doing so.

That is just my opinion.

Like I said, you diffused the situation. People were looking at you, but I don't think your episode was the worst I have ever witnessed with other people's kids. It's not the end of the world. Next time you are going out, talk to your son about what is expected beforehand and encourage him to understand that dining out is a treat. If he doesn't behave, he might have to be taken out and surely, he doesn't want that to happen. Speak to him as if he understands you and try again.
I know a little boy that is autistic and he behaves in restaurants, at weddings, church. He has siblings who also encourage him.

Some things just take practice.
No....you didn't do anything wrong.

Best wishes.

5 moms found this helpful

Sounds like you did fine. Little kids have tantrums. It happens everywhere. The point is you handled it, and stopped it. If it had continued, the best thing to do would have been to remove him from the situation. When my kids were small, if we had a situation like that my husband might have taken the kid out of the restaurant while I finished eating, then I would watch the kid while my husband ate. My kids like going to restaurants, and quickly learned that if they want to go to restaurants they have to behave, so keep trying, it gets easier.
When I take my kids to McDonalds playland the rules are different. I used to take them there to run around and blow off steam in the winter time. One time when they were two and five another mom complained that my children were being to loud and rambunctious and asked me to get them to settle down. That I did not get. I took them to eat at a "playground" specifically so that they could run around and be rambunctious! If she wanted a peaceful, quiet dining experience she probably shouldn't have been sitting in McDonalds playland trying to read her book!

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I'm always understanding when parents make A. effort to stop the behavior. The last time we went out, there was a 4 or 5 year old throwing a fit, playing with empty chairs, crying uncontrollably and the parents took the ignore it approach. It didn't work and we spent our dinner listening to this. It went on for over 30 minutes. I was frustrated beyond belief and even told my daughter if she acted like that she would be in a lot of trouble. This was after she asked me why the boy was not being good. So a 3 year old can notice bad restaurant behavior. We do try to go out before 6 pm. I figured if you are out before 7 or 8, than you should expect kids at restaurants. We also love Mexican and Italian places because they tend to be louder and they drown out the kids. My daughter is 3, we correct behavior at the table, getting out of her chair, yelling, etc. If it gets really bad we take her outside and have a stern talk. It usually works and we go back in to very good behavior. We went out the other night and my 7 month old started crying, depsite all efforts to get him to stop. We got our check and left. No one around us seemed bothered, but it wasn't fair to him to have him crying and it wasn't fair to everyone else. I love going out to eat, but sometimes you have to suck it up and leave if your kids are out of control, and sometimes you have to cave just to get some peace.

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I already ranted on one restaurant question today so I won't repeat it all here...feel free to look back if you want.

I'll just say this...you have as much right to eat at a restaurant with your child as anyone else, and just thank your lucky starts that your child isn't "perfect" like theirs because you will be prepared for real life and real parenthood when they are bit in the butt by it unexpectedly. It'll happen.

I have a young child with sensory problems and you know what? I don't hide her away at home just because someone might look at us funny. I also don't use it as A. excuse...it is what it is, and we're doing our best. She's not someone else, she's herself. SHe's a beautiful, intelligent, and sweet child, and she deserves to see the world (or it's restaurants) as much as your child and all the perfect (ahem) children out there.

:)

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I don't know why people were looking at you because I wasn't there.

I have looked at people when they allow their children to destroy the table and floor with food, trash, etc and then get up and leave it for the server to clean. THAT gets A. evil eye from me.

Do I want to sit next to someone with a toddler going through a tantrum, NO. Sometimes we've been seated in a area that seems great and when I see a family loaded with children coming towards my table I cringe and hope for the best.

I have witnessed some behavior that I would call inappropriate and I have witnessed some behavior where the children could have been in A. all adult place and no one would have known it due to good behavior.

When we do want a dinner with no screaming children, etc then we go to a higher end restaurant where the likelihood of children being there is rare.

If we end up at a Chick Filet, Mc Donalds, McAlesters, etc for lunch, then I pretty much expect to see children of all ages and I accept that when I walk in the door.

It sounds like you and your little one got very frustrated and that might be why people were looking at you.

4 moms found this helpful

I would have lower expectations for a toddler, but if the kid won't sit, is throwing things, disturbing other people, screaming...then time to ask for a doggie bag and a check.

For my DD, if she screams, but I quickly calm her, we stay. If she acts up again or cannot calm within a minute or two, then we go outside for a bit. If she still can't behave, we get a check.

Sometimes you have to do this with older kids, too. SD was 8 when we couldn't keep her from slithering under the table and whining so we got a check, no dessert, and left.

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I think that kids will be kids. I also think that most adults understand that kids are going to do what kids do. I, because of something that happened when my son was young that I mention in a previous post, am very self-conscious about my own children but at the same time try to be very compassionate about other people's kids. It's when people's kids are being total hell raisers and dragging other people's dining experience through the 7th circle of hell, while as parents they act like they don't know their kids are about 5 seconds from swinging from the chandelier that it gets frustrating. Kids are kids, but the same can be said for adults. They are the grown ups and one of those two groups of people (kids or adults) needs to be in control, regardless of whether it's at a buffet, or the restaurant, or the grocery store. Someone HAS to be in charge.

I expect my kids to sit at the table and eat. I expect them to try to speak relatively quietly. I expect them not to play with their food. I expect them to stay seated. I expect them to treat the staff and other diners politely. About the same stuff I expect at home. The difference between now and when I was a new parent is that, rather than putting my kids in situations where they cannot meet my expectations, I wait until they can meet those expectations before putting them in that situation. We still eat chinese, we just have it delivered. =)

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I think what you are describing is totally different behavior from the previous question. You are describing typical toddler behavior and the typical response from a parent attempting to correct said behavior. I haven't read the responses but I for one expect to see toddlers testing their boundaries with Mom and Dad and frankly I don't have a problem with that as long as Mom and Dad are attempting to control the situation.

We've had children at surrounding tables literally throw their food or utensils at us. Now the parents that immediately said "Johnny, you know that is unacceptable behavior. What do you need to do?, etc." Our response has always been a pleasant one because let's face it kids will test the limits and the parents are trying to teach them the proper way to behave so no problem. However, several times we've encountered the "not my child" parent who completely ignores the behavior and makes no attempt to teach the child. Believe me, after the third time the little darling hits me or my child with his food, I'm gonna have something to say about it. That is the kind of behavior I find inexcusable. By that I mean the children "acting up" as you call it and the parents not making any effort to teach their child not to throw food, spit their drinks at us, continually jump up on the back of our booth so they are now standing over us, reach over the window dividing the booths and hit us, etc.

I worry about the children that are in fact running around the restaurant due to safety issues but that is not really on my radar because it's not my kid.

As I see it, no matter what the behavior is, if the parents are attempting to handle it, I'm fine with it. I do not have perfect children nor do I expect other people's children to be perfect. But I do expect other people to teach their children to respect their boundaries.

I hope that ramble made sense...lol.

Peace and Blessings,
T. B

3 moms found this helpful

It was a gradual thing, but we've always eaten out and we've always taken DD with us, and generally stuck to family-friendly places where a little extra noise from her wouldn't be that big a deal. We always expected her to stay in her seat and keep herself occupied and she was not allowed to run around the place, and we never got into the whole "walk her around the restaurant because she is bored" routine. At the same time, we don't linger 2 hours over dinner either. I know if she is getting over-tired, or has reached her limit, it is time to wrap it up.

There have been times she's been really whiny and arguing back, and I've had to take her outside and tell her she better cut it out right now, or we are going home. Now at 5, she does pretty well. She knows she needs to stay seated, she is not allowed to stand up or bounce around in her seat, and she can just color a coloring page, or play games on my phone, until the food is served. She can order her own food and usually remembers to say please and thank you. She doesn't always eat very much, but she can't suddenly change her mind and decide to get something else once the food has been ordered.

I do find it interesting sometimes (and I hope this won't offend anyone) that there are people who say their kids are horrible in restaurants, so they never go out to the them. Learning disabilities and sensory issues aside, maybe the reason the kids don't do well is because they haven't gone out enough. It takes PRACTICE. It takes going into these situations and making it clear what the rules are and expecting better behavior from them, over and over and over. If they are never given the opportunity, how will they ever learn?

To answer your question, maybe people were watching because you had a 40 lb 3 year old child in a high chair. My daughter gave up high chairs just after she turned 2 - she wanted to just sit in the seats like we did and she was fine sitting with her knees under her to reach the table. She would have rather done that than sit in a booster seat. Maybe it was because he was allowed to sit in your lap after acting up in his seat. I don't know. I was not there. Sometimes some people are just rude, and just continue to watch to see if anything else is going to happen. But if my kid started acting up like that (and sometimes she has!), I would be more apt to march her butt outside, and make it clear that she either decides to behave herself, or it will be time to go home.

3 moms found this helpful

When my kid gets overly noisy in a restaurant I walk them out of the dining area and into the lobby or outside. I think the tolerant ones are the ones who have kids or remember what it was like to have kids. No one else will understand. As a parent you will have to lump the fact that your noisy child will make you unpopular in a restaurant, church, air plane.... Learn to take it with grace. A lot of people assume your kid is just a brat when they hear screaming. Thats why I walk out with mine. People at least know you are willing to let your meal get cold for the sake of their ears and that can go a long way.

3 moms found this helpful

You handled it to the best of your ability at that time. Just like kids have off days, so do we. Sometimes we are very well prepared and sometimes we aren't. I have a godson with aspbergers, When he was in his toddler stage
his mom would insist on taking him to restaurants. He would act up, people would start to stare and she'd panic and not know what to do. On one occasion I was with her and he acted up, I immediately scooped him up and took him outside. We walked it off, sang his favorite song 5 times, I fished a toy out of the car and headed back in. The toy was the blessing that night. It's hard, and as a parent, you have to know what you think you can and cannot do and just be prepared for those moments of "surprise" as I like to call it. Look at it this way....it was what it was, but you walked away learning something knew right? You will be great, should it happen again ; )

3 moms found this helpful

Riley J's answer cracked me up, because it IS acceptable for kids to run around at most Chinese restaurants. The last time my sister and I took our SIX children to dim sum, the owner of the restaurant was playing with our kids and telling them to visit the fish tank while we, the adults, ate our yummy food. All of the other kids in the restaurants were running around too. The restaurant staff just smiled and admired all of the happy faces.

You were eating at a Chinese buffet. I think you did fine.

3 moms found this helpful

Once we watched a couple in IHOP say "You want cake?" before they literally threw their 2 year old girl a pancake on the dirty floor.

NOT ACCEPTABLE. LOL

I would not keep staring at you because you got the kid to stop crying.
IF you had let him cry, I would have been annoyed that you didn't take him out.

3 moms found this helpful

I didn't read the responses except for Dana K.'s since her response was the last one written, and that is how we raised our children. I don't judge others if they do things differently, but we expected our children to sit in their seats A. eat their meals appropriately from the time we first started taking them to restaurants, and we started taking them very young. If they didn't behave, and sometimes they didn't, then we took them outside. They learned very quickly that if they wanted to remain in the restaurant and eat a good meal, then they needed to behave. This worked well for teaching them good behavior, and they didn't disturb other diners either.

I'm really not bothered by other children unless they are running around. We don't go to buffets or restaurants that are known to be "kid friendly," so I don't ever like to see kids running around restaurants. It seems unsafe to the waitstaff and irritating. I don't mind children who cry a bit unless they continue for A. extended period, or get loud. In those cases, the parents should remove them from the restaurant (IMHO).

3 moms found this helpful

I think you handled the situation just fine, you did not expect him to behave at a fancy. slow moving restaurant, you were at a buffet which is appropriate! I only mind it when my husband and I FINALLY get a babysitter and go out to eat at someplace fancier (not the Chinese Buffet or Golden Arches LOL) Even then I dont mind that much, (just thankful it's not my problem this time!!) kids are kids! It's just a rare treat for parents to go out without children and so expensive to hire a babysitter that I think if your kids, like most, can't handle a quiet restaurant, then get a sitter or go somewhere child friendly! If you werent all dressed up then you weren't in a fancy restaurant and three is still considered a toddler and I would have been sympathetic!

3 moms found this helpful

To teach a child that all he has to do is get a little out of line and he gets what he wants may not be the thing you meant to teach him in this instance but it's what you did.

I would have taken him out and when hubby finished I would have traded places with him so I could finish eating.

That is truly what we do. Ever since taking Love and Logic classes I try really hard to let the consequences be a better choice.

He wanted out of the high chair, you didn't, he kept at it, you took him out of the chair. He got what he wanted. Taking him to the car instead would have reinforced the idea that the chair is the best place to be instead of "if I get loud mom will let me sit on her lap".

Once you do the car a couple of times all you'll have to do when he's starting to act up is say "Car or highchair?" and he'll stop.

2 moms found this helpful

Like I said in the other post, I am not fazed by much. I can tune out background noise like no other. If it was A. Olympic sport I would win...my kids would tell you the same thing.

For 3 and under, I expect kids to have their moments. They are kids, so long as the parent is trying to calm them down or get the situation under control it doesn't effect me. That doesn't mean getting up and leaving or taking them to the bathroom. I had one who would throw a fit so we could get up and leave. Um no, so I broke that habit.

3-5 age range, again some tantrums are normal, but they should be able to go longer stretches between meltdowns.

Above the age of 5, say till early tween years. I do expect them to behave to some degree, they get bored and antsy I think that is normal. Running around, throwing food, things like that is not okay.

Beyond the tween years, they should know better. At least you'd hope they do.

I always get complimented on how well my 8 behave. Sometimes I wonder cause I think they are being pains....

2 moms found this helpful

It depends on the child's age and abilities. At 6, I expect my daughter to sit in her seat, not crawl under the table or twist around to look at the people behind us. I expect her to use her inside voice when talking to us and not talk to the people around us. She's to not bug about the food "taking forever"...we're working on that one and she's to tell us what she wants and not to change her mind the moment the waiter gets to us and then try to talk over us to give the person her "new" order. If she acts up, then it's a trip to the bathroom for a talking to and a swat on the end if needed (ie: hollering the entire way to the bathroom or having thrown our silver wear on the floor, not dropping it, full arm cocked throw.).

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, C.:

Before you take out your child/ren,
you and your husband set down the
rules.

Ask them if they have anything to say
about them.

Tell them the consequences. Ask them
what they think.

Make consequences something
you can deal with.
Using labels creates excuses.
Discipline is discipline they understand more than you think.
Good luck.
D.

1 mom found this helpful

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