How to Manage Your Kids When in a Restaurant

Here are different ways to manage your kids so they don’t have a meltdown at a restaurant.

While we love bringing our kids out to explore and eat new food, it can be tricky when they end up screaming, throwing a tantrum, or having a meltdown—which may disrupt other diners. Unfortunately, not all diners will understand these woes of parenting. And although restaurants here in the Philippines don’t impose rules on unruly kids unlike in Singapore where restaurants charge parents for noisy children, here are some ways to manage your kids when at a restaurant.

1. Invoke the power of screen time.

While we don’t like subjecting our kids to screen time, we can make an exemption when at a restaurant. This way, they have something to do for 20 to 30 minutes. Especially to keep their minds off their empty tummies! Let’s be honest: we’re all relying on Cocomelon, Blippi, and Ms. Rachel to be the digital “yayas” of our babies, toddlers, and kids when we eat. And there’s no shame in that.

2. Be aware of how our kids or toddlers function when they’re tired.

Kids and toddlers show they’re tired differently. Some become extra hyperactive before they collapse and start screaming. Meanwhile, other toddlers become extra cranky and forget to use their words. Being aware of how our kids show they’re tired makes it easier to choose a restaurant that can cater to their needs.

3. Choose a restaurant with small amounts of stimulation.

Kids and toddlers get hyperactive because there are just too many things happening. It’s why they start jumping, running, and screaming in fast-food restaurants. The colors are so bright and energizing that they start running around like the Energizer Bunny.

4. Choose a restaurant that does excellent food presentations.

Kids, contrary to popular belief in food plating, do care about food presentation. While they’re not as nitty gritty as food critics and foodies, they’re just as strict as they won’t care if the food isn’t presented in a way that engages them. That’s the reason why restaurants put flags on their burger steaks or choose brightly colored plates for kids’ meals. It holds their attention!

5. Don’t constantly reward your kids for behaving in a restaurant.

Another contradictory approach but constantly rewarding our kids for behaving in a restaurant might send them the wrong message. While it does condition them to behave, it also sends a message that there will always be a “special toy” or “reward” at the end of the ordeal.

6. If you want them to try new food, start them at home first.

Some kids are not as open to food as others unless they have an older sibling who eats it or it’s brightly colored. Prevent kids from throwing a tantrum in the restaurant by exposing them to the new food at home while still giving them their preferred options.

7. Choose a table spot that isn’t so cramped.

Some of us are more inclined to choose a table spot in the restaurant that’s more cramped to force the kids to sit down. But it actually causes kids more distress because they feel they’re being suffocated. Choose a place that gives them visual entertainment—like the window seat—to let their energy flow smoothly.

Not every restaurant is kid-friendly!

While it’s important to teach our kids how to behave in restaurants, it’s not something they learn overnight. Being little humans with big emotions means they will explode or go crazy at some point. It’s a slow but rewarding process as they eventually learn about other kinds of food.

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