Children and Restaurants

We’ve just come back from having a family meal out and I wanted to post about children’s behaviour in restaurants.

I know a lot of people complain about children’s behaviour in restaurants and I’ve even heard it said that children shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants (I suppose they mean upmarket ones).  I can’t see why there should be a problem.

We have taken our two out to eat since they were babies.  Plum is now seven months old and she’s been out to eat probably a couple of times a month since she was born and we did the same with Bean.  Obviously as babies, you can’t expect anything from them, so how they behave (whether they are happy and easy-going, or whether they are bored and crotchety) is entirely down to the parents.  Babies cry though, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that. Sometimes though, it’s about making sure you can meet their needs, whether that be entertainment or food or whatever.  Sometimes.

We’ve been lucky in that as babies, both our children have loved being in restaurants, finding the atmosphere entertaining, and loving to take part in social occasions. As Bean got older, we explained what sort of behaviour was acceptable and what wasn’t.  Having children behave in a way that is acceptable to other diners is often as simple as making sure they are entertained – by something quiet.  The children at the table next to us tonight were playing on their DS consoles. At the table. On full volume.  Now don’t get me wrong, we weren’t eating anywhere sophisticated – we went out for a roast dinner.  And I understood the idea of the DS keeping them entertained. But the volume was so loud, it was making it difficult to hear what we were saying to each other.

Now, maybe this was the best way to get the children to sit still in a restaurant, but if so, it wasn’t working very well, since they were both running around at various points and one of them was playing with one of those hamster toys and chasing it all around the place.  Both children were of an age that I would expect them to be able to sit down for a meal, but the four adults with them seemed completely oblivious to it all.

Maybe I expect too much.  Maybe I’ve been very lucky in that my 5 year old has always received compliments on his behaviour whenever we’ve eaten out; he’s always behaved well and that hasn’t taken masses of work from us – but is did take some work – these things don’t happen by accident.

So, what is your opinion of children in restaurants and how they could/should/must behave? Does it depend on the time of day or the type of restaurant?  Today we were at a family restaurant, but we have taken them both to some fairly upmarket places too.  Is it OK to take toys for children to play with at the table, and does it matter if these are noisy toys?

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4 comments on “Children and Restaurants

  1. Absolutely take QUIET toys – we take colouring and activity books, and have done so since he was old enough to hold a crayon. Sometimes we takes cars. Nobody has ever said anything to us about it being wrong. We also favour a restraunt that has a child’s play area – then we can have adult conversation and Harry can colour / build / play to his hearts content.

    I don’t think we have any upmarket restraunts…

  2. Love your post and buzzed about it! We too started taking our kids as babies and now they are grown but know how to behave! LOL I think quiet toys are a must but not noisy ones. I also think you can keep them amused with no toys and made up games. Makes it more fun and interesting too. Great post!

  3. Quiet toys, definitely quiet ones. Cars are borderline. I hate having to wander half way accross a place to appologise and ask politely if we could retrieve the car from undersome else’s table!

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