Why does it seem that as soon as your perfectly behaved kids set
foot in a restaurant, all bets are off? The night is interrupted by
your screaming child while you pretend not to notice the sea of
accusing eyes from nearby diners.
For parents who have children with special needs, the
embarrassment and awkwardness can be even worse. But neurocognitive
specialist Donalee Markus says there are steps a parent can take to
ensure more civilized public dining habits:
1. Set expectations before you go. Talk about
what is appropriate behavior and talk through the experience before
you even leave the house. Discuss where everyone will be sitting,
what it means to be eating in a room full of strangers and what is
expected of them.
2. Review the menu online. This allows you to
plan ahead so there are no surprises when your child is asked what
they would like to order.
3. Allow your child to sit on his or her knees.
We all feel best when we have our feet touching the ground. When
you are too small to reach the floor, a good option is to sit on
your knees. This is more calming to your child.
4. Praise your child for good behavior. This
reinforcement provides a foundation for understanding what is
expected in public and encourages them to replicate this
5. Let your child choose where to eat once in a
while. It keeps them engaged and increases your odds of
having a peaceful meal.
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