Dining Out with Kids

food

Practice, patience and choosing the right times to dine can make dining out with children a positive experience for families.

Parents know taking kids out to eat requires patience. The sights and sounds of a restaurant can be overwhelming and distracting to children used to eating at home.

Toddlers have not learned to control their impulses yet, and even school-aged children may experience intermittent breakdowns when they are uncomfortable or not feeling well. But parents who want to take their tots out on the town can employ some easy steps to make eating out a fun excursion for everyone.

Practice. Daniel Post Senning, the great-grandson of etiquette expert Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition, says parents can practice dining out by replicating the experience (as much as possible) at home. Ask the children to use inside voices and exhibit proper behavior at the dinner table. Remove children from the table if they misbehave and try again another time.

Parents also can acclimate their youngsters to dining out by gradually working their way up to more formal restaurants. Start by dining out at a place where table behavior or noise may be more tolerable, such as a casual restaurant and then a nicer restaurant when kids can handle it.

Provide distractions. Many young children cannot sit still for long and may need a series of distractions to keep them entertained throughout meals. Pack a bag of tricks that includes toys, games, books, and even a digital device tuned to kids’ favorite programs.

Pick restaurants that do not have a long wait to get a seat so that kids’ patience has not worn thin before you even make it to the table. A sightseeing walk around the restaurant also may be able to provide a welcome distraction until the food is ready.

Pack snacks. Although the goal may be to eat out, kids may not be as patient as adults when waiting for their meals to be delivered. Ask servers to bring out the kids’ meals when appetizers are served or think ahead and have some light snacks, such as crackers or dry cereal, available to tame kids’ hunger pangs.

Choose restaurants wisely. Make concessions as to where and when you eat. Coordinate around nap times so children will be happy and well rested.

Select restaurants that accommodate children. Ask to be seated out of the way just in case your son or daughter acts up. This way you will not disturb other patrons.

Restaurants tend to be less busy right before dinner service and directly after. If you can time your meals to these off-peak hours, it may make for a more enjoyable dining experience.

Offer plenty of praise. Always let children know when they are doing a great job and behaving well in a restaurant. Engage kids in conversation and keep them entertained. Boredom or attention-seeking behavior can make dining out with youngsters more difficult to manage. A treat or a special reward (sticker or coloring book) can be offered to a child who behaves when dining out.

Be courteous and respectful. Many children will eventually act up in restaurants, and parents should respond to such instances as courteously as possible. Apologize to those around you whom your child has disturbed. Remove your son or daughter from the area and take a few moments to help him or her calm down. If kids can’t be calmed down, ask that your meal be wrapped.

Remember to clean up after yourselves and thank the waitstaff for any extra service, such as lugging a heavy high chair or providing extra silverware if kids drop any forks or spoons. Don’t leave a large mess for the server, and tip accordingly.

Children grow accustomed to dining out over time. It may take some practice, but with the right planning, families can enjoy meals away from home.

CLICK HERE for a list of Kids Eat Free Restaurants in Staten Island!

Posted in Featured Articles


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  1. Brunch with Santa

    December 17
    December 17, 2017  |  12:00 am - 11:59 pm
    Harvest Cafe
    Call for time and reservations
  2. Nutcracker 2017 with Staten Island Ballet

    December 17 @ 2:00 am - 5:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  2:00 am - 5:00 pm
    College of Staten Island
    Sat. December 16 at 2pm & 5pm Sun. December 17 at 2pm & 5pm Click here for more information or call 718-980-0500
  3. NYRR Open Run

    December 17 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am
    December 17, 2017  |  9:00 am - 10:00 am
    Conference House Park
    Participants are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before the start of the run and to leave their valuables at home – bag check is not provided. No need to do anything before the run, just show up. Open to all
  4. Art Studio

    December 17 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
  5. Science Time

    December 17 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program on problem solving, inquiry and creative thinking. Activities include meetings animals from our Bugs exhibit, playing with solar cars, solving puzzle and games or building structures. Time is subject to change each day
  6. Merry Music Series

    December 17 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    From 2-3PM and again from 3-4PM Celebrate Hanukkah with a special Jewish cultural music performance and sing along.
  7. Sea Shanty Sessions

    December 17 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    Noble Maritime Collection
    Led by the Folk Music Society of New York, this program is really gaining in popularity and offers a great opportunity to experience authentic, time-honored maritime songs in an appropriately historic setting. The sessions are free and family friendly, and
  8. Story Time

    December 17 @ 4:00 pm
    December 17, 2017  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join our staff each day to share and listen to a story related to this months theme, the Letter M. Books about Music, Magnets, Monsters and other fun themes. TIME SUBJECT TO CHANGE, check by calling the Museum for daily
  9. Toddler Time

    December 18 @ 10:30 am
    December 18, 2017  |  10:30 am - 10:30 am
    Huguenot Library
    Join us for some Toddler Time fun! This is an interactive program featuring songs, story time, crafts and unstructured playtime. *​Pre-registration ​is ​required
  10. Baby Time

    December 18 @ 10:30 am
    December 18, 2017  |  10:30 am - 10:30 am
    South Beach Library