I feel like I can brag about this because I had very little to do with it: My kids have impeccable restaurant manners.
I credit their dad with this success. From the time they could talk and sit up on their own he drilled them on their manners every time we went to a restaurant.
If we have prepared them for nothing else in this life, they know how to eat out.
Sometimes when they were little this paid off when a server brought them free ice cream for not being horrible.
This made me feel simultaneously good and bad.
Good because other people seemed to appreciate my kids. And bad because what kinds of sticky-fingered monsters do these poor servers face on a daily basis that makes them feel the need to reward what should be basic polite behavior?
So I started looking around when I ate out. And, well, holy heck, people. You really need to tip your servers better. And maybe work on a few of these skills with your kids:
Unless you plan to follow you kids to college and order their beers for them after they whisper their choice in your ear, you should probably let them get used to ordering for themselves now.
But restaurants can be noisy places, so teach your child to look directly at the server and speak loudly and clearly.
Don’t forget please and thank you
This should be a no-brainer, but I’ve been out with friends’ kids who apparently have never heard of either word. It’s not a great look. Also: The phrase is, “I’d like the chicken nuggets, please,” not “Gimme the chicken nuggets.”
The care and use of a napkin
Napkins go on the lap until they’re needed to wipe the mouth. If you need to leave the table, they go on the chair.
Don’t make a huge mess
Bored kids sometimes think condiments make fine art supplies and the table an excellent canvas. But you, dear parents, know better. Well-mannered diners don’t deliberately make gross messes the bussers have to wipe up.
Put. The cellphone. Down.
This goes for you, too, Mom and Dad.
When all else fails …
And if, despite your best efforts, your kid is being disruptive? Sorry, Mom and Dad. You need to take the kid out. Right now.
That could be a five-minute timeout on the sidewalk or asking your server to box your meal and go home. It may be frustrating and inconvenient, but that’s pretty much the story with the whole parenting gig.
Be consistent and your kid will eventually get the message that certain behaviors are required for eating out. Then maybe role-play a few scenarios before you walk into the next restaurant.
And who knows? Maybe next time the server will bring your kid free ice cream for being such a dream customer.
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