15 MUST Known Restaurant Etiquettes for Children and Parents


Today I present to you the 15 restaurant etiquettes for children and you; helping you both to be restaurant ready.

restaurant etiquettes for children

This year, a restaurant owner from Maine made the headlines for shouting at a patron. But that’s not what caused all the furor. The patron was 2 years old. The events leading to this is not something unheard of.

The kid was crying for a long time, which started to offend some of the other patrons. This led to the owner losing her cool and shouting at the child. While this move was termed insensitive by some, others lauded her for taking control where the kid’s parents failed.

Since we weren’t present at the scene, let us not take sides. Instead let us look at how to prevent such an event from happening to us. Because let us face it, nobody likes our kids being shouted at by someone else.

My child is not ready to follow instructions yet: 

You cannot expect kids to be born with the ability to follow instructions, so I haven’t included any lesson plans for teaching etiquettes. But whatever they can’t do, you do those on their behalf. It is as simple as that. Your kids will learn by example as they love to imitate adults and it is much easier than teaching manners to children.

15 Must know restaurant etiquettes for children and parents:

I have included a list of common manners that will help make your dining experience at your favourite restaurant a breeze.

#1. Avoid high end restaurants

Applicable for – Babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and young children till 10 years

High end restaurants have formal settings. While you are equipped to handle that, your little one might not have the patience to behave and act the way he/she is supposed to.

Those places are quiet, so quiet that your kid might want to spice things up by screaming. While the other angry patrons shoot death rays out of their eyes, you can pretend as if your kid was just checking the acoustics. But the damage would have already been done. Instead opt for family restaurants that are kid friendly.

#2. Tell them what to expect

Applicable for – Toddlers, pre-schoolers, very young children

If it is your child’s first visit to a restaurant, explain how it is going to be. Tell them about the order taking process, about how to conduct themselves etc.

#3. No screaming

Applicable for – Toddlers, pre-schoolers, very young children

A restaurant is not the place to test the strength of your child’s or your vocal chords. If your child starts to scream, tell him calmly and assertively. Do not turn it into a shouting competition.

Read the article 5 secret techniques to handle toddler tantrums and apply when necessary

#4. Absolutely no running around

Applicable for- Toddlers, pre-schoolers, very young children

While kids running around can irritate certain customers, I have included this point because of a totally different reason.

Imagine your child running into a server who is carrying a piping hot soup. In a comedy movie, it may set a hilarious chain reaction into motion, but in a real life someone can get hurt. 

#5. No Disturbing other guests

Applicable for- Toddlers, pre-schoolers, very young children

If you see your child troubling your other guests, apologize to them and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Once, I sat through a lunch, with a kid pulling my hair. I pointed it out to the mother, who calmly said that she was helpless and couldn’t do anything.

#6. Leave the table be

Applicable for- Toddlers, pre-schoolers, very young children

In all restaurants, every table is cleaned after somebody finishes their meal. (I am not talking about those establishments with questionable hygiene levels.) But that doesn’t mean you let your child mess up the table. The salt and pepper shakers or other condiments left on the table are just to enhance the flavor of your food. Not for your little Picasso to create art.

#7. Be prepared for delays

Applicable for – Babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers

I have seen adults lose their cool when the food gets delayed, so imagine the plight of the little ones with shorter attention spans. Carry something to keep your child occupied.

Some restaurants have place mats with puzzles and coloring corner for their little patrons. A crayon set or your child’s favorite book, is good to keep your munchkin occupied while he waits for the food. Do carry some light snacks like crackers because hungry kids can get really cranky.

#8. Leave when necessary

Applicable for – Babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers (if the situation demands it, then for older kids too)

If your little one is cranky and you are finding it difficult to control him/her, please do walk out and try to calm your child.

Just like the Maine restaurant incident, there was yet another incident where a mom walked out to console her child. Upon realizing that her efforts were futile, she decided to pay her bill and leave, only to realize that somebody had already paid the bill for her. When the situation gets out of hand please do walk out, others will thank you for it.

#9. Order for them

Applicable for – Toddlers and pre-schoolers

Children can get really excited seeing the menu card. Sometimes a bit too excited and when the bill comes, you may realize that you are now a major shareholder of that restaurant.

As a mom, you know their likes and dislikes and also their appetite, so order for them. Or better still, suggest something from the menu and let them place the order when the server comes. It would also be a self-esteem boost for them.

#10. Clean up their messes

Applicable for – Babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers

While there are staff to clean up after you, if there are any major spills, do clean it up. If you are unable to do so, leave a good tip and apologize to the staff. It will help in earning the goodwill of the staff and set a great example for other parents.

#11. The table is not a percussion instrument

Applicable for – Across ages

This one needs no explanation. A toddler might be unable to comprehend why he/she is not allowed to show off his skills. Rather than resort to violence and blood shed, distract them. Fortunately at that age it is not tough.

#12. Sit on the chair and nowhere else

Applicable for – Babies, toddlers, pre schoolers

Encourage your child to sit on the chair, if your child isn’t old enough, ask for a high chair. If the restaurant doesn’t have high chairs, you can use his/her stroller or seat your child on your lap.

Making your child sit on the table is not an option as the kid can spill hot dishes or drinks on himself or others.

#13. The table is not a changing table

Applicable for – Babies and toddlers who aren’t potty trained

Surprised? Well, a parent said that the rest rooms were not clean and hence was using the restaurant table to change her kid. Not only is this unhygienic, it can also cause severe discomfort to others.

#14. Follow table manners

Applicable for – Pre-schoolers and above

If you follow basic table manners then you have won half the battle. Table etiquette for kids doesn’t have to be scary. Just don’t treat etiquettes and manners like protocols or rules. Instead encourage your child to follow these like they treat daily activities like brushing and bathing.

Read out the effective ways to stop your child fussing and start eating.

#15. Be a role model

Kids love to imitate others, and you are their first role model. So if you have a habit of shouting to get the waiters attention you cannot expect your child to do any different.

Then again, you are not the only role model, kids learn from their peers and other elders too. In such cases, you have to patiently explain to your kid why certain habits are not right, even if his best friend does it.

Also be ready with these 11 ways to tackle your toddler in case.

Hope I have covered everything with respect to manners and restaurant etiquettes for children. But mommies you know better, if you feel I have left out something or there is something that you do differently, write to me in comments. I would love to hear from you.


About Author

A stay at home mom for a feisty 19 month old named Ahaana, Chitra Santosh has rekindled her romance with words once again now. Though Arakkonam is her home, she can be seen migrating to Mavelikara, a quaint little town in Alappey during summers. Studies have shown that this has no connection with the migratory patterns of birds.

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