If you look at the top of the menu of a particular outdoor restaurant on Long Island you read that children must remain seated during their stay and that service is dependent on this. And a few years ago there was some contraversy over a sign in a Chicago coffee shop that read "children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."
Some may get upset by this and some understand and appreciate these signs. Sometimes it seems to be a clash of those with children vs those without when it comes to things like this. Each parent though, actually each person, comes from a different school of thought. There are some parents who are more liberal with their children and feel everyone should agree with their views. It's kindof like politics that way.
The point is, that when people go out to a restaurant, coffee shop or pizzeria, chances are they really don't want to listen to a screaming, misbehaved or whining child and like it even less when that child is running around. Most of us prefer to enjoy our time out...in peace. Especially since the reason we go out is for fun, to relax, to catch up with friends and dining out brings a certain mood that can easily be ruined by an unruly child.
To avoid your child from fitting into the category of "that kid" (you know, the one describe above who everyone is staring at) here are some things to keep in mind:
- Enforce appropriate table manners and proper in-seat behavior at home at your own table. When you are sitting down for meals, make sure your child is sitting too. Encourage him/her to sit quietly, with no yelling, whining or bouncing around rules. Some squirming is to be expected but reinforce staying in the chair.
- Bring something to do. Many parents go out for coffee or a meal with a young child and then expect that child to either sit there, or run around. Neither of these are good options and they are not fair to your child. Bring a bag full of crayons, coloring books, toys, books or dolls. Something that can fit on the table that your child enjoys playing with to keep him/her distracted.
- Talk to your child before going out about the behavior you expect. If your child is old enough to understand (about 2yrs and above) sit quietly with your child and tell him/her that you will be going out and explain exactly what you want to see. For example "we are going to the coffee shop and when we get there I want you to sit quietly with me and stay in your sit". If necessary offer and reward and tell your child they can pick out something yummy to eat, but that it is contingent upon the good behavior.
Going out should be enjoyable for everyone. If you have to constantly scold your child or chase after them, then it means that you are not having a good time, and the people around you aren't either. Having your child be well behaved means that you can enjoy your time with your child, and it means your child will have a good time too. It also means that your child will be safe since running around can lead to falls, hot beverage spills and even running into the street if it's an outside place. A well behaved child is a happy child and by children of all ages behaving appropriately all will enjoy time out together.