Restaurant Etiquette for Parents with Small Children

If you have or have had children below the age of 10 then you can understand what a nightmare it is to go out for a meal, family style, and come back home in one piece. In many cases, the parents simply end up coming home early, often with remnants of a food fight on their clothes. The world at large is mostly sympathetic to these parents, but parents also need to remember that social etiquette calls for certain standards of behaviour in public places, especially in restaurants. So here are a few guidelines for parents taking their kids out.

Restaurant Etiquette

Look Up the Restaurant

You can find anything on the internet these days, and you should because the first thing you have to check is whether the restaurant is family friendly. Some establishments provide kid menus, kiddie chairs and even toys to keep small children occupied. They will stock colouring sheets and crayons to distract the fussy ones. Eating out at a family restaurant is much easier compared to the uptight, formal restaurants, where guests may complain of noise and you might even be asked to leave. Some family restaurants even provide nursing and changing rooms, so you will be properly taken care of.

Acclimatize the Children

Most parents are wary of taking small children out to restaurants, but if you get them used to that environment from the start, then there is less chance that your children will fuss when they get older. Start when they are babies; put them in a portable car seat and take them to family restaurants. Do this as frequently as possible so that going outto public places will be all in a day’s work for them. Once they are old enough to understand you, speak to them clearly about where you are going and what your expectation is of their behaviour. They may not adhere at once, but they will internalize it after they’ve been out several times.

Restaurant Etiquette

Pick Your Battles

Some parents are unfairly penalized by the fine dining industry. Why shouldn’t parents bring small children to restaurants if they want their children to have that experience? Please remember however that the reason that most managers and waiter don’t like children in fine dining restaurants is because the other patrons are often disturbed by children throwing tantrums, playing tag and generally getting in the way. You wouldn’t expect anyone to eat with a full set of cutlery at a fast food joint, so don’t expect everyone to be as understanding in a Michelin star restaurant. Argue with the managers if you must, but be aware of when you are wrong.

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