Fredericksburg Parent

July 2012

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family values Disaster-Proof Dining BY ELAINE STONE " spending roughly half of their families "A all and consuming nearly a third of total food budgets calories away from home," states the American Academy of Pediatrics. So, it is likely that your child has or will soon have the experience of eating out. Everyone has had the collective experience of children run amuck in a restaurant, or the screaming baby that doesn't bother his parents, or the active toddler things. We were who throws all born missing the gene for acceptable social behavior. Everyone has to learn and what behaviors do establishments. Children don't cut it in social have to practice and be exposed to the experience to assimilate it into their behavior scheme. Parents could have a more successful by considering a few things before venturing out. The age of your children is a key factor in how quickly you are served in a restaurant. We once had a waiter in Canada who said, 'Could I get you your check?' and we answered, 'How about the menu first?'" - Erma Bombeck mericans have been dining out in droves Before Going Consider the family budget; decide what type of restaurant is affordable. There is nothing worse than a bill higher than you wanted to pay. Don't let the experience be ruined by not thinking about the check. Everyone will be happier if it fits within the family's financial budget. You'll children's and a bit more latitude in helping children learn the world of public dining. Be sure to choose a restaurant according to your child's abilities. "It's normal for toddlers to have a short attention span and an overwhelming urge to explore," explains W. George Scarlett, PhD, assistant professor of child development at Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts. If a three-star restaurant is too quiet and few children eat there, do not throw your novice diner into the mix. Choose a place that will help them be successful at their skill level. Talk beforehand. Talk about what it means to eat away from home. Review all the basics -- saying "please" and "thank you," chewing with her mouth closed and speaking in a quiet voice -- things she should be doing at your home dinner table. Give reminders since the atmosphere may cause distraction and normal routine is shifted. Go prepared,...expect a wait (making a reservation is always a good idea if the restaurant accepts them) and have a bag of tricks. Pack some snacks in case the wait is longer than a child's hunger pangs can hold or service is slower than expected. Cheerios taste mighty good to a depleted stomach. to your children before arriving and give clear expectations Upon Arriving When you get to the restaurant, check out table options, sit away from others, near restrooms, outside or choose a booth. These give children a little wiggle room. Once seated, be prepared to order quickly even if this means preselecting your order on the web before you arrive. Ideally, place the order when drinks are offered. The quicker the kitchen gets your order the less time hungry children wait. Ask for bread/chips everyone to share, if hunger is raging. When ordering, give kids a choice of three healthy options. Don't allow or order an appetizer for dining experience dining out to mean poor nutrition. There are better options than chicken nuggets, pizza or mac and cheese. Encourage healthier choices, and if old enough, let them make the decision. Giving some autonomy teaches children how to make decisions and usually pays benefits in cooperativeness. For 20 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • July 2012 better for kids. They will have the physical fortitude to withstand the demands of a public appearance. Also, the earlier you go the fewer people at the restaurant, which means quicker service, more seating options want to schedule sleep cycles. An early the meal according to dinner is usually Ways to Make Any Restaurant Kid-Friendly

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