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.

Featured Answers

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.


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

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

More Answers

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.

13 moms found this helpful

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.

12 moms found this helpful

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.

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.

10 moms found this helpful

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.

10 moms found this helpful

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!

9 moms found this helpful

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.

8 moms found this helpful

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.

8 moms found this helpful

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