Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2012 9:58:24 PM
With four kids between the ages of 4 and 10, we have cut back on our eating out, which means our dining out occasions are greeted with excitement from the children.
We decided early on as parents to train our children how to behave in restaurants. No running, no shouting, stay in your seat, talk with inside voices, and don't make a mess are some of the things we emphasized. As a result, except for a few glitches when the youngest child was between the ages of 2 and 3, we were able to eat in most restaurants (naturally saving the more expensive ones for date night--no need to feed the kids that well!).
Over the years, I've been surprised at the compliments we receive for our children's behavior. Case in point was yesterday at a Cracker Barrel restaurant off I-95 in Virginia. We stopped for a late lunch while traveling home from a visit with grandparents, and the children happily colored and played with the triangle game on the table. After our meal was complete with the kids eating nicely and quietly, our server said we had the most well-behaved kids she'd seen in a long time, adding "I've seen every kind of bad behavior there is!"
As my husband took the boys to the bathroom and I gathered our things to leave, an older couple at a nearby table walked up to me and said what a lovely and well-behaved family we had.
We often mention those compliments to the children afterwards, as a positive reinforcement that their behavior is noticed by others and that it can bring joy to others as well.
We've all witnessed the antics of a child in the throes of a temper tantrum or other misbehavior, and sometimes it is our children who do those things. But when others notice and comment on the good behavior of our children, it can be a boost to the very behavior we wish to commend.
So the next time you see a family with children who are nicely behaving, say a word of encouragement to the parent. It can have a positive impact and probably make his or her day!