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Home >  Information A-ZAll Kids Information Articles Dining in Public with a Child

Dining in Public with a Child:

When you have young children, it can be a pain to dine in public. They don't yet understand that the people around them don't want to hear what they say, and they tend to suddenly become much louder in public than they are normally. Depending on what type of restaurant you are at, and how long it takes to get your food, your child will very possibly get bored, which leads them to doing things they know they shouldn't, such as throw things in the floor so that they have a reason to climb under the table. This is one of those things that sort of just comes with the territory of having small children, but there are a couple of things you can do to help make the evening as enjoyable as possible, for both the parents and the child.

• Let them feel big—if you let them feel like a big kid, they will be proud, and they will try to continue being treated as one. This means that they will try even harder to simply sit there and have a normal conversation instead of making a mess of the salt and pepper. To do this, you can let your child look through the menu (even many nice restaurants have a small children's menu for them to choose from) and pick what they want to eat. If there is no children's menu, you can still let them look at the pictures, and tell them what there is and let them pick. If they will have a hard time making the decision, give them just a few choices, and let them pick what they want. Then, when the server comes to take your order, let your child tell them what they want (be sure and ask them if they want to do this, because you may be putting them in a spot they don't want to be. Then, if they say yes, let them try to order.) They may want to, but get shy when it comes time to actually order, and if this is the case, don't pressure them to do it, just ask them if they want you to order for them. Don't make a big deal about it if they are too nervous to do it, though. Just tell them it was a good try, and that they can try to order next time if they want to.

• Take things to occupy them—once your child is old enough that you are no longer carrying a diaper bag with you, you may overlook simple things that can be brought with you in public. Little things, such as small books and toys, can fit in a purse easily, and can be an excellent distraction for children. The best types of toys are the kinds that keep them occupied for long periods, such as little magnetic tic tac toe games or other types of games. Another excellent occupier that can fit almost anywhere is crayons and paper. You can print individual pages that can be folded up and carried with you at all times, or you can simply have small notebooks for them to be able to draw or write in. Teaching your child how to play games such as tic tac toe can be done at a very young age and can help keep your child busy during those waiting periods.

• Take them to family-friendly restaurants—this doesn't have to mean going to a fast-food place, though. There are many nice restaurants that are also family-friendly. These are the best places to go, because you won't have to be as worried about how loud your child is getting, and you don't have to worry about if they spill their drink, etc. When you take your child to a restaurant in which they are the only child, it is never a fun experience. You will be more nervous than if you were in a place filled with families, and if you are edgy, your child will be too. The only problem is that children don't tend to deal with nervousness the same way adults do. Instead, they get restless, and it can translate into them misbehaving. The best way to avoid all of this is to save those fancy restaurants for times when your child is at the sitter. While this may mean you aren't going to the restaurant of your choice, everyone involved will have a better time, so it is well worth it.

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