As a quick follow-up to "Restaurant Manners" I want to pass along our tip for managing public behavior. We set up a "Restaurant Bag" with coloring/activity pages, learning activities and washable writing implements. This bag is also useful for Dr.'s visits and the like. Rotate the content of the bag so it's always a surprise for your child. Keep the bag in the car at all times... you never know when the urge for dinner out will hit.
Remember it is not the establishment's job to provide entertainment for our children. That's our job, we're the parents. While many do provide crayons and coloring sheets, these can just supplement your "bag." Temper tantrums, by adults or children, should not be thrown because a restaurant ran out of crayons, I've witnessed this way too often. Another benefit to setting up this activity bag is that you get to participate with your child while you're waiting. Flash cards are fun, some compact travel games are also fun and pass the time quickly.
Finally, Long Island Dad does not support the use of portable DVD players to entertain children in public. There's a time and a place for everything. I have no problem with them in my minivan, as I use it often. But, while dining with the family, a child should be fully engaged in the conversation and activity at hand. This is how they learn proper behavior. I've seen, all too often, when the DVD ends, a child screaming for more... while the "adult" conversation continues. Just my opinion. Thanks. Any thoughts, folks?
P.S. This concept works for us church goers too. Just replace the activities with those of a religious nature, based on your faith. It's not sacrilegious if a two year old doesn't listen to everything during a service, God knows they don't have a long attention span... He made them. I am an advocate for taking your child to service, rather them dropping them in the nursery, as long as your church supports this. Usually, it will, when they see how respectful and well behaved your child is. One of our biggest compliments is when people turn around and say, "I didn't even know you had the children with you."