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I absolutely dread going out to a restraunt with our children. It never turns out well. They are fairly well behaved little guys, but they are busy and don't like to sit for long. They are 4 and 2. Should we just wait until they are older or keep going and working on being out as a family. Typically we can go in sit down and order and the longer we wait the more impatient they get and then they can't seem to sit still. My oldest really acts out. Running, being loud. Ahhhh.
 

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We have a secret weapon restaurant. We take DS (age 3) to one of those Japanese hibachi (cook on the table) places whenever we want/need to eat out. He is completely MESMERIZED by the cooking, which goes on the whole meal. And he loves the food and always eats everything.<br><br>
Give it a try the next time you have to eat out. But yes, I feel your pain. DS and I alone can usually eat out and he's a perfect gentleman. Add another kid to the mix or a grown up who takes away my attention, and ... oh brother!
 

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We tend to take a backpack with toys in it when we go to a restaurant... little dinosaurs, anything my DS is interested in at the time, paper and crayons, and I've even brought playdough.<br><br>
Sometimes it helps to order their food while you are ordering drinks... they have less time to wait and it usually takes them longer to eat anyways (at least in my case).<br><br>
Good luck...
 

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I bring boxes of raisins for while we are waiting for food and also chalkboard placemats that they can color on. Also we each take a child and try and give them one on one attention until the food comes. They are usually fine once meals are in place in front of them.
 

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Practice with breakfast. At breakfast, the food always comes out fast! Bagel shops are even better--inexpensive, appealing to kids, easy to pack up and go if necessary.<br><br>
Our most successful out-to-dinner experiences are when the kids have been at the park for an hour or longer, then we get straight in the car and go to the restaurant. They are usually hungry and ready to sit.<br><br>
Try to keep the kids involved with the conversation. Play "I Spy," talk about an upcoming birthday party, tell stories, relive family memories, etc. When the food comes, then maybe the adults get to talk to each other.<br><br>
When the food arrives, ask for the check. Pay immediately so you can leave quickly if necessary.<br><br>
Take a trip to the bathroom to wash hands.<br><br>
In addition to small toys and art supplies, we bring books for reading aloud or just looking at the pictures.
 

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If it is the four year old acting up, I would honestly explain what was going to happen beforehand, and offer up some consequences if he didn't act the way you asked him to. Then, I'd follow through on the consequences. Four years old is plenty old enough to sit in a restaurant, make conversation with family or do a quiet activity at the table, and eat a nice meal.<br><br>
For the two year old, I'd try to come up with things he really enjoys and save them for restaurant times only so that they remain novel and interesting.<br><br>
I wouldn't stop going out -- how will they ever learn how to act if you don't bring them out? But I would make sure to go to very family friendly places to avoid annoying others, and I would insist on the same standards of behavior there as you would in any five star restaurant.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">If it is the four year old acting up, I would honestly explain what was going to happen beforehand, and offer up some consequences if he didn't act the way you asked him to. Then, I'd follow through on the consequences. Four years old is plenty old enough to sit in a restaurant, make conversation with family or do a quiet activity at the table, and eat a nice meal.<br><br>
For the two year old, I'd try to come up with things he really enjoys and save them for restaurant times only so that they remain novel and interesting.<br><br>
I wouldn't stop going out -- how will they ever learn how to act if you don't bring them out? But I would make sure to go to very family friendly places to avoid annoying others, and I would insist on the same standards of behavior there as you would in any five star restaurant.</div>
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hmmmmm....I don't know....my 4 year old finds it very difficult to stay still in a restaurant. He's just not "there" yet. Personally, I don't put my children in situations that they are not able to handle. It doesn't mean he won't ever learn to act if we rarely go to restaurants. It means that I am not placing unrealistic expectations on him and punishing him for not living up to them.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"><br><br>
On the rare occasions that we do find ourselves eating out, I try to talk to him beforehand, and we order the kids' meals as soon as we sit down. We try to make it fun, but if he is getting "itchy" and can't sit still, I take him for a walk around the restaurant while we wait for our food.
 

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My kids are pretty good at restaurants, and while it may be one of those "we just got lucky" things, I think it has a lot to do with our expectations for behavior during meals at home. We sit down as a family for dinner every night, and my kids are expected to sit at the table for the duration of the meal. So to a very real extent, we practice "restaurant eating" every night.<br><br>
Restaurant meals take a lot longer than a meal at home, but I think having the habit of sitting (relatively) still through a meal at home makes it easier for them to stretch to making it through a longer meal when we're out. We also make a point of visiting restaurants with relatively fast service, and we try to get there early enough that the kids are eating at the regular time.<br><br>
HTH!<br>
ZM
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">hmmmmm....I don't know....my 4 year old finds it very difficult to stay still in a restaurant. He's just not "there" yet. Personally, I don't put my children in situations that they are not able to handle. It doesn't mean he won't ever learn to act if we rarely go to restaurants. It means that I am not placing unrealistic expectations on him and punishing him for not living up to them.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"></div>
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Yeah, I wasn't expecting my answer to this one to be very popular, and TBH, I've never had to try it. My kids have been going out to eat with us several times a week since birth and I haven't had any troubles with them. My little guy gets a bit nutty sometimes, but he's climbing in my lap, not bothering others, so I just live with it.<br><br>
I have to agree that the suggestion of going out for hibachi is a good one, though . . . it's my favorite kind of food, and it definitely keeps the kids' attention. They love the food, too.
 

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We bring along our own appetizer so that they can start eating right away while the food is being prepared. And some crayons are a good idea too.<br>
But if they can't even stay in their seats yet, maybe it would be a good idea to wait awhile until they have more patience and better manners. Or else only go to "kid-friendly" restaurants.
 

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When DD1 was younger, she is 5 now, I kept a little bag of activities in the van, a couple ponies, coloring book, markers, etc... it always worked well to keep her entertained. Right now we are having a hard time going out but that's because DD2 is 16m old. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> Let's just say that her nickname is "The Destroyer". <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>veganf</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10784392"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But if they can't even stay in their seats yet, maybe it would be a good idea to wait awhile until they have more patience and better manners.</div>
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If I had to wait until ds stayed in his chair, he'd probably be a teenager. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br>
Having a hyperactive kid makes going out to eat (shopping, errands, playdates, walks, etc etc) so much fun. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue">
 

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Pick family friendly places to eat. Bring a fun snack for them to eat while waiting for dinner, and spit a meal for them. Get a booth, my son feels like he has more freedom and he can go under the table to sit on the other side with dad etc. Pack a <a href="http://www.moolka.com/jzv/search?c1=257&p=YzE9ODY%3D" target="_blank">small travel game</a>, Haba makes them.
 

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I have to admit that I bought Leapster for this kind of thing. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">
 

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When the kids were younger we just didn't go out to eat at restaurants, especially since we didn't really have a need to go out to eat. If we did go it was to a buffet. The girls were not really bad when we went out. they didn't run around, or anything like that. We didn't go out for a while after 2 of them spilled thier milk & while we were cleaning that up the 3rd dumped enough salt for 6 people onto her food.lol<br><br>
They're 5, 7 & 9 & perfectly well behaved in restaurants. We do go to ones that are more geared towards children. The last one we went to brought out appetizers(carrots/celery) for the kids so they got to eat a bit before their big meal came.
 

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There have already been a lot of good responses so I'll just add my suggestions:<br><br>
*sticker books. I cannot tell you how many meals have been improved by these things. A side benefit (that my dds would tell you is a drawback) is that most of the have "reusable stickers." This means that they don't stick very well and are easy to clean up.<br><br>
*books in general. My dds love a new book and will read together for quite a while.<br><br>
*Leapster can be a friend; just remember earphones.<br><br>
*yarn games like cat's cradle<br><br>
*magnetic scenes and travel games. My dds will play "Connect Four" for quite a while, especially if they can challenge the occasional grown up.
 

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For us when DS was younger it was all about restaurant choice. The louder and more brightly decorated places we stayed away from. All those ones that are marketed as family friendly set DS off. Too many distractions and the music and lighting and chaos (lots of people and servers) just made it too hard for him to sit. So we picked quieter places, dimly light places where the feel was much calmer and the meals stretched out a bit longer because server's aren't just trying to turn tables as fast as they can. The family friendly places never worked for us.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">I have to admit that I bought Leapster for this kind of thing. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"></div>
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Don't feel bad, we have even used a portable DVD player. And that worked like a champ. Funny, we got a few disapproving looks for it, and I always thought those people would be the first to give disapproving looks if DS was acting wild...<br><br>
We don't use it anymore, and honestly, we don't even go to kid friendly restaurants very often anymore. We do take a backpack of toys, and we have these great self contained pop up sets from Matchbox, a car wash, fire station, etc that are perfect size for that. We also have found that buffets help, faster, lots of action for him to watch, and they certainly tend to be family friendly. Also, he goes with us pretty much anytime one of us would hit the buffet, which gives him more chances to get up and walk around. Best of luck!
 

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Go to the restaurant early. (unless that restaurant has early bird ..then run like HELL away from the old ladies )<br>
Service will be faster from both kitchen and wait staff if you are there right away.<br><br>
If your kids just aren't even letting you enjoy the meal out, though for even a short time I would skip it and try again every few months.<br><br>
DH and I were so proud that we'd raised our DD to be well behaved in restaurnts. We did the right things. Exposing her to all sorts of food so she could eat from our plates.<br>
Oh how we got complimented on what wonderful parents we were...<br><br>
Enter DS <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Eat">:<br>
we had to get checks in several places and take our food to go b/c he just would not sit still. At 2 1/2 now he is much better but still we get alittle panicky if the food is taking a bit too long. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>amyescott</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10792021"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Don't feel bad, we have even used a portable DVD player. And that worked like a champ.</div>
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Been there done that!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> But I did have to laugh at the disapproving looks...let me tell you, those people would have had worse looks to them if I'd let my boys behave like hooligans in the restaurant!<br><br>
I'm pretty lucky now that the boys will sit still for a decent amount of time in a restaurant. Although if it's just me and the three of them I tend to pick places that I know have faster service.
 
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