5 Restaurant Etiquette Rules All 'Courteous' Parents Follow

A popular restaurant in Monterey, California, recently upset parents when it posted a sign banning strollers, high chairs, booster seats, loud kids, and crying babies. In Houston, a busy restaurant won't seat kids under the age of 8 after 7 p.m. Kids under 6 years old are outright banned at another eatery in Pennsylvania. These are just a few of a growing number of fed-up restaurants instituting "hold the kids" policies.

Kids are viewed as a recipe for disaster ... and it's our fault. We own it as parents. It's time to rebuild our reputation by following these rules:

 

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1. Feed Children Immediately. Kids, low blood sugar, and sitting quietly still at a restaurant don't mix. Bring on the carbs! Say yes to the bread basket as soon as you sit down. Put in their drink orders. Do not delay the bread and water tactic (or chips and salsa ... you get the idea) for one minute. It can make or break your meal.

2. Keep Your Kids in Line. If your child is screaming, crying, or otherwise raising hell (throwing food, distracting other diners, being disrespectful to waitstaff), take him outside until he calms down. It's a no-brainer, but many parents do not follow this rule and that gives all of us a bad rap.

3. Stop Being Selfish. It's understandable you want to take a load off when you go out to eat. After years of practice, you may be able to tune your kids out while you sip on a cocktail. Good for you! But, remember, people around you do not have that superpower. They see your kids causing mayhem. You raise their blood pressure when you act oblivious. Stop it. 

4. Tip! Waitstaff make $2 and change an hour. They rely on tips to make a living. Chances are, you're a difficult table if you have kids. They're extra mouthy and messy. (Isn't the best part of going out taking a night off from cleanup?) So, it doesn't matter if you didn't love your food or you didn't like the feng shui or the drinks were watered down (waitstaff have nothing to do with these issues) ... leave a tip! And not 10 percent either. Do the right thing.

5. Look at the Seating Chart. If you go to a restaurant that's not busy, ask to be seated away from other diners. Hostesses do not look at their seating charts with kids in mind. They often put a family of four in a booth next to a couple to make it easier for waitstaff. Bad idea. Inevitably, the kids will peer over the booth, try to start a conversation, or start throwing napkin airplanes for a giggle while you're looking at the menu. It's up to you to correct the hostess if she seats you in a bad booth.

As parents, it is not only our right, but our responsibility to tell our children "no." It's hard correcting behavior, no doubt. Sometimes we don't want to keep repeating "no" or "stop" or "I will take away your bike if you don't behave." It's exhausting, but we signed on for this role -- and there's no understudy. 

How do you keep your kids in line when you go out to eat?

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Images ©Trevor Ray Hart/Gallerystock/Corbis and ©iStock.com/Laoshi

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