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I hate eating out with my DCs, what can I do to make them behave when we are in a restaurant?

(61 Posts)
MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 11:52:58

We met friends yesterday in a cafe for lunch. The DCs both had a children's meal. I had colouring in books and pencils with me so that they could draw but they were just really unsettled. They messed around, kept getting down from the table, and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

DS is 4yo and DD 6yo.

AIBU to expect them to sit and behave at the table at this age?

I don't expect them to sit for hours but at least as long as it takes us to have a meal without making everyone in the cafe turn and stare. My friends are lovely, but as yet childless and I can just imagine what they were thinking.

I was in tears last night because of their behaviour when we were out. At home they are ok but when we are in public they are awful.

edam Sun 14-Sep-08 11:57:54

Bursting into tears is a bit extreme. But given you'd got colouring books and stuff I do think they were being a bit naughty. When ds was four, I used to let him get down in between courses (supervised by me, not running around on his own), otherwise it is a long time to expect a small child to sit still.

Try hissing "get down from the table and I'll give you to the chef to serve up for Sunday lunch" into their ears! grin

StormInanEcup Sun 14-Sep-08 11:58:25

Message withdrawn

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 12:00:57

yes they should be able to behave

but it depends how they normally behave and what you normally do at home

we always sat at the table for every meal even if only children and me so it was just the same expectation

so it begins with having expectations of their behaviour at asll times

onwardandupward Sun 14-Sep-08 12:27:26

Adult conversation in cafes is really really boring for 4 and 6 year olds. I'd take them to one of those Harvesters which has a children's play area, then you can chat while they play.

Or invite friends to your house.

Or make sitting at the table truly fascinating, and yes, that's going to involve planning all sorts of entertaining things for them to do, like a military operation.

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 12:28:30

It was the whole day that got me upset, they were just not well behaved.

We were only in a cafe, not a restaurant. We had a snack and there really was no space to let them get down from the table.

We are working on their table manners at home.

I get frustrated saying all day, "IF you do this/don't do this then you will get this/not get this..."

We are moving house next week so they are perhaps a bit unsettled with that. We will have to go into a hotel for 3 nights until our furniture arrives and I am dreading the breakfasts in the hotel.

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 12:30:48

We do often go to child friendly places, but we are in Germany and they are few and far between.

Really I want to find some way of getting them to behave in a normal restaurant. I am not talking about sitting for hours on end, but an hour or so while having a meal should be possible.

Pawslikepaddington Sun 14-Sep-08 12:35:31

All I can suggest is get them used to it-a cup of coffee for you and a toasted teacake for each dc won't cost too much. Take them a lot on your own and give them attention, then gradually wean the attention off-it takes a while but is really worth it! Dd has made me cry in a v posh restaurant before-I left I was so embarrassed! smile

Twims Sun 14-Sep-08 12:38:06

I read a parenting book called the greatest advice I ever got and one of their reccomendatons was to feed the children at home at their usual time etc so if they have lunch at 12, sit down and eat lunch at 12 and arrange to meet a friend at 1pm, and then whilst you and your friend have a meal the children get to eat an icecream sundae or pudding, and as they are already fed and not enormously hungry they won't be as restless

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 12:38:18

I should have mentioned that they are very used to going into restaurants/cafes as we often take them and have done from a very young age.

I fear that at some point we were not strict enough and we are going to have a huge fight to get this done.

At home I would give a time out, that is the only thing that works. Out and about that option is not available. I struggle to think of threats/encouragement that woudl make them jsut behave.

Pawslikepaddington Sun 14-Sep-08 12:38:34

Oooh, another weird but really good thing I have found for a 4 y/o is take some sugar paper (you know the kind of paper you get in loads of colours that is like scrap art paper) and a glass of water and the end of a spoon-they can write and draw for hours and it evaporates really quickly-they can do treasure maps and all sorts-it's a cheapo aqua draw!

edam Sun 14-Sep-08 12:42:07

My mother used to take us out to a restaurant regularly so we'd learn how to behave. It was a nice Italian where they were OK with kids - even though my sister, a champion fussy eater, would only have breadsticks and the crust from my mother's pizza. grin

Hadn't realised before this thread that I do the same thing with ds (far easier with one, though, I'm sure) only it's a cafe. When he was little, he used to play with lego or read a book, but now he's older he prefers just to sit and eat like a grown-up. As long as I let him have the dregs of my tea with lots of milk and a little sugar - that's his big treat for behaving (his idea, not mine!).

Pawslikepaddington Sun 14-Sep-08 12:42:30

I have tried a lot of stuff as dd is expected to eat in academic hall at 7pm every night after a long day at school/nursery, and three long tables with not a child in sight bar dd was hell for a year, but as long as you stick at it it gets much better. Are your friends talking to the dc's too? That sometimes perks them up a bit, and say 10 mins talk to grown ups, 5 mins attention on them, then set them a task for ten mins while talking to adults, then five mins attention again, they are cross that their mummy is giving her attention to someone else, that's all grin xx

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 12:44:58

i dont asgree with goint to places that have childrerns coerners entertainment and stuff

it just makes them think it is a play area

i would include them in the conversation yes have some crayons but basically it is difficult toi retrain them if things have slipped

they have to learn to have quiet times when they behave

and this has to mean making a line they dont cross

consistency is the key

positive thinking is essential

if they dont respect you they wont behave either

they need rules

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 12:47:16

Hmm, perhaps we do need to be more structured, but htat is something that I really struggle with. The whole "childrens time" and "mama and papa time" is likely to send my DH up the wall as he associates that kind of talk to my slightly mad SIL.

that is a good idea, but sometimes we are eating out because we are all hungry. Or like next week when we are in the hotel for breakfast 3 mornings

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 12:47:35

to put it another way

if you dont talk to them at the table then that is just rude

how would you feel if you were with your dh and a friend of his and he gave you a book to read while he chatted for an hour and tgold you not to butt in etc

misdee Sun 14-Sep-08 12:48:48


if they behave they get a pack of HSM stickers (35p a pack, cheap and cheerful)

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 12:50:08

how do they behave if it is just you or just dh or just grandma taking them

misdee Sun 14-Sep-08 12:52:42


pretty well.

but they are included in the whole meal. it can be a riotus fun, basically idont take them quiet places to eat. but as long as they arent running aroyund the place, screaming, or jumping on furniture then i dont mine.

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 12:53:25

sorry misdee i meant the op smile

misdee Sun 14-Sep-08 12:56:41

lol. thats ok.

just reading through everything.

dd's have always eaten out with us, or me on my own with them, due to dh being in hospital for ages and lots of eating on the go being done.

they love coming to cafe's with us, having a small cake and glass of milk whilst i catch up with friends. its not soemthing i do that often now, as the older two are at school, but they do enjoy it on the weekends if we nip into town at all.

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 12:57:39

We do talk to them at the table, just not with one eye on the clock to time 5 mins for them and 10 for us.

We do involve them in the conversation. Sometimes I have been alone with them and tehy have been misbehaving even though they have been getting 1:1 attention.

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 13:02:51

i think it probably means raising expectations all round then

zippitippitoes Sun 14-Sep-08 13:03:48

if they think you will leave if they misbehave and get bored or that they can get away with it they will

MmeLindt Sun 14-Sep-08 13:23:36

We don't leave, Zippi, I just get more tense and angry.

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