If one of the family activities you are planning for this week is to go out to dinner, please keep these tips in mind to have an “embarrassment-free” soirée.
- Expecting proper behavior at 2 years old is really a wild dream! Better wait until your child is at least 3-4. Consider a more casual restaurant to begin the training. At this age, it would be ok to bring crayons, notepad, or a tablet to keep them busy during small intervals, but focus should be kept on the table food, menu options, silverware, tone of voice, etc.
- Begin at home. When you don’t practice basic table etiquette every day, it will be more challenging to implement when you go out!
- Children understand much more than what we give them credit for. Since we look at them “as kids,” we assume they won’t follow instructions or behave politely. That is not true. Explain to your kids what is expected of them at a restaurant: remain seated; avoid running or raising their voices (let’s leave that for the park!), proper use of napkins, holding silverware properly, etc.
- Let them participate. Show them the menu and explain the options with enthusiasm. Allow them to order and set their table space—unfolding the napkin, putting bread on bread plate, etc.
- Don’t expect too much or get frustrated. Getting frustrated on a fidgety kid only makes things worse and may embarrass the whole family. As moms, we must understand that children have a very short attention span, so we must be prepared for what comes next.
- At the end of the soirée, give feedback to your children. Whether or not it is positive, it is important for them to continue understanding what they did right or wrong within that restaurant setting. Promise to bring them back for a big dessert (if they did great), or promise to come back to continue “improving.” Now, of course, it’s up to you to keep your promise.
Bottom line, do not give up! Keep practicing at home and it will be easier every time you expose your children to different social situations.
Claudia Ahrens-Hernández, Beauty and Lifestyle Contributor
Small Details Change Everything: How to Make Your Dinner Table More Inviting in 5 Minutes or Less
Ten Tips for Managing a Busy Household
Family Weekend Activities: Outdoor Adventures to Enjoy With Kids