Never in my wildest dream did i imagine that one day i would spoil a peaceful family dinner or ruin a couple’s dinner date.
And yes! There I was in the middle of a restaurant with my toddler disturbing people around. My son who was enjoying his food suddenly started whining and started screaming at the top of his lungs. He wanted to get down and run around. As there was a safety hazard with people carrying hot drinks and food, I did not allow him.
We earned a lot of disapproving glares from around the restaurant. It was almost like someone pressed a ‘panic’ button and I froze. It was lot harder to figure out what to do. I just packed my food and left the restaurant.
The next time we had been to the restaurant i was well equipped and was ready to handle a meltdown. There is no foolproof way to stop toddler tantrums but here are some few tricks to prevent them. These are tried and tested suggestions!
- Take your child to a kid-friendly restaurant. Choose the ones that do not take an hour to get you appetisers, provides a high- chair, has a kid friendly menu,
- Never lose your cool. You are struck in the middle of a silent restaurant with a screaming child and a bunch of unfriendly eyes watching you. Put the judgemental audience out of your mind and focus on your kid.
- Validate your kid’s feeling. If he is screaming, tell him he needs to calm down so that you can understand why he is upset. If the screaming continues, ignore him and do not respond until he calms down (Ignore the strangers around, they don’t really matter). Eventually your child will calm down. Now talk to him and understand what he wants. If he is asking for something ‘impossible’ remove him from the scene and step aside where there are fewer people and let him get over it.
- Be armed with your ‘bag of tricks’. Pack a bag with ‘distractions’. Games, toys, books, puzzles and other kid-friendly activities will always come to your rescue in middle of a meltdown.
- Lollipops, ice-cream or any other forbidden treats. I understand bribing a child to ‘behave’ is silly. But it is not a bad trade off for a little peace for us and people around. So, whatever your kid loves let them have. Any child is quiet with lollipop in his mouth. It would give you almost an hour of ‘quiet’.
- You planned and you were prepared. But somehow, it did not workout right. It’s just time for you to leave. Ask for take away boxes, pack your food, apologise to those around you and leave.
Few young children who don’t have coping skills find it very difficult to sit in a confined space. They don’t understand why he is expected to sit and ‘behave’ amongst a lot of strangers. If you find it really difficult and a hectic ordeal to go out dining with your kid, better avoid it. It is all about ages and stages.