How would you handle this.... I took my 2 yr old son and 4 year old daughter out for lunch today. Before we even got a seat my son started screeching and crying because he didn't get to walk in the resturant himself. Once he got settled we got our seat and them my daughter had to go pee. So I asked the waitress to watch my son ( a friend of mine .. it's a local dinner in town) . That was fine. Once the meal came my daughter decided that she was sick and had to go to the bathroom yet again. By now there was another customer in the resturant. ( again someone I knew). So I took my daughter to the bathroom this time my son climbed out of his chair and came with. Then no one wanted to go back to their seats to eat. The decided to climb over the other chairs in the resturant. I picked them up and sat them down at our table and my son started screaming and crying again. So I just picked him up and took him out to the van came back in and got my daughter and back again to pay the bill and went home. ( the other dustomer that was there watched the kids in the van for me). I felt so imbarassed to have taken my kids out and have them act that way in public that I will never take the out again unless their father is with because they act perfectly when he is around. I just wish they would be good for me since I'm the one that is home with them all the time and I'm the one that does things with them. I would really like to injoy my time with them but when they act like that I just want to crawl under a rock and not come out. Did I do the right thing? Is there anything I could have done differnetly that would have enabled us to have stayed and enjoyed our meal together? Any help or advise Please I'm listening?

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[deleted account]

Oh WOW. I can tell you that I know exactly what you are talking about. My Son is 3 and my Daughter is almost 2, and for a while I had such a hard time taking them ANYWHERE by myself because it would always end up in a disaster. Then, one day I got a HUGE wake up call and realized that their behavior towards me in public is flat out disrespectful, embarassing, and they do it because they KNOW it pushes buttons (and what kids doesnt like doing that?) I was always too frusterated at the time to think of a logical way of handling it properly, and I knew then that I had to make some serious changes (especially while they are still young) and set up some ground rules to stop the behavior right in its tracks before it got worse, and BEFORE I took them out again. So the next time before we headed out the door, I sat them both down in front of me and calmly explained what we were going to do, what I expected of them, and what was NOT allowed. Then, I told them what would happen if they didn't behave. I set the rules.



Then, we went to the store. I walked them to the carts where my son suddenly started to act up because he wanted one of those Car-carts (where the kids can sit in and pretend to drive) and I CALMLY explained that there wasn't any available and he would have to wait until next time. When he threw a fit, I reminded him of the rules, and told him what would happen if he didnt calm down (in my rule, it was that we would leave the store immediatly and he would have a time out in the car). He pushed to have his fit, and I swiftly turned us around and headed straight for the car. I secured the rules.



After a few minutes in the car, he knew I was serious and calmed down. We returned to the store and when he tried to start up again, I reminded him of the rule, and he quickly calmed down. I felt SOOOOO good. I was able to keep my cool, reinforce the rules, and finally feel like I was in control-and not the kids. I use this set of rules on both my kids everyday with much success. Even when I have to leave the store and a cart full of groceries behind because my kids are acting up (and in that case when its that bad, I take them straight home and they go to time out), I know it's still a success because I am finally in control, they are learning the rules and what happens when rules are not followed, and they are learning to behave better more and more often, making things so much easier and fun for us a family. And, I have their respect that I deserve. I hope this helps!

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[deleted account]

My husband is more consistant with discipline than I am. I'm the one home with them all day and like you said you get tired and give in. I will say that things are going better. I'm trying to get more one on one time with all my kids. They all seem to enjoy it and they really do behave great in public ( alone) . Now that I am able to see how the kids act with me alone I will eventually try it again with 2 then all three. We will get there it will just take time.

Jessica - posted on 03/27/2009

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Here's a question- you said that when they're with your husband, they have no problem behaving.  I wonder why?  Is he less laid-back with discipline, and more consistant?  You wouldn't belive how much kids behaviors change when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt what will happen if they don't.  I admit, my husband tends to be more strong with our daughter, at least as far as discipline is concerned, but the respect and love they give him after they've been disciplined, and in general, is pretty amazing.  For me, she's very well behaved also, although she is more apt to challenge me than him, and unfortunately sometimes I give in...although I know not to!  It's hard though, being with her all day long and being exhausted, sometimes it's not as easy to fight!  I've been working on it and seeing pretty incredible results, too.  She knows better than to challenge me in public, I put an end to that right there, because I don't want to be that mom that's not quite half way done grocery shopping, but has a screaming kid!  We've all been there, though! lol Speak clearly, age-appropriately, and firmly, and let them know that their behavior is completely unacceptable.  With kids this age, consistency is the key- and they WILL respond if you are consistent, and they will also have a sense of security knowing that there is a cause and effect with their behavior.  Good luck!  :)

Sarah - posted on 03/27/2009

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Wow, great responses!!! I think you did the exact right thing by leaving and allowing the other customers to enjoy their meals. My only suggestion ( and this has worked for me) is give them a chance to behave. I would pack them up and bring them to the van, where we would have a chat about how to behave in public. I would then let them know that we are going to try it again. Give them the benefit of the doubt, at 2 & 4 they know how to behave. But its so much fun to get Mom frazzled, talk to them like little people after all that is what our children are. If they behave badly again, pack up and go home. Explain to them why you are leaving and that next time Mommy will have to leave them at home. Children understand more than we give them credit. I have used this method with my own kids and my mother used it while raising myself and siblings. I get compliments now when we go out (kids are now 10 & 9 & 1.5) about how well behaved my children are. I can take my children anywhere and be proud of their behaviour!! Think of it as public behaviour training, it will become 2nd nature to them if you are consistent. They will know what is expected of them when you leave the house!! Hang in there, good luck!!

Trish - posted on 03/24/2009

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I have 4.5 year old triplets that had the same issues with making it nearly impossible to go out to eat alone with them...so I am not a read a book about it kind of person, but I have to share an awesome book that helped me tremendously! It's called Food Fights and Bedtime Battles. Basically, let them know what you expect from them and have them agree to it and tell them what the consequences will be if they break their agreement with you. It sounds strange, but it will work if you give them the control to make the choice for themselves. Stick with following through with the consequences! That is the most important thing from the book...FOLLOW THROUGH! Good luck!

[deleted account]

I thank you all for the suggestions and support. Things are going better now. I have started spending more one on one time with each of my 3 kids. They are great when they are alone with me it's the all three of them together that doesn't always work. I do tell the kids how I expect them to act when we go places and what happens if they don't . I just have to work or following through with what I say. The kids are great with anyone else but that's not my concern. I want them to be good for me as I'm the one that takes them places. From what I can see is that it has a lot to do with following through with what you say and I know this I just have to keep trying harder. Thanks again everyone.

Heather - posted on 03/04/2009

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May I ask how consistently you discipline? I have noticed that my kids act alot better in public when they know the consequences for bad behavior. Make clear rules right before you walk into the restaurant (easier with the older one). Don't be embarrassed, though. Look around! You're not the only one with ornery kids! We all have our days! Those are hard ages!

Shawna - posted on 03/04/2009

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I KNOW HOW U FEEL, I HAVE GONE THROUGH THE SAME THING, I DONT TAKE MY CHIDREN OUT ANYMORE UNLESS I HAVE ANOTHER ADULT WITH ME OR THEIR DAD. THEY DONT LISTEN TO ONE WORD I SAY WHEN IM IN PUBLIC, IT IS VERY EMBARASSING AND I CRY, AND PPL LOOK AT ME AND SHAKE THEIR HEADS. ITS HARD BEING A MOM AND ITS THE HARDEST JOB ON THE PLANET, PPL WITHOUT KIDS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS, AND IT PISSES ME OFF. BUT I WISH I COULD HELP AND GIVE SOME KIND OF ADVICE, BUT I WOULD LIKE U TO KNOW THAT U ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS GONE THROUGH THIS AND UR NOT ALONE.

Sarah - posted on 03/03/2009

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I completely agree with Jodi and Charity. They are just trying to see how far they can take it, how far they can push you. I think all kids do this. My five year old used to do this to me. Your going to have to lay down the law, seriously. And stick with it, no matter what. I always tell my daughter that I am the mommy, and I am the boss here. ha. After a few times she finally figured out that I wasnt going to be the pushover I usually was with her. Before I go anywhere, I explain where we are going and doing, and go over the rules and how I expect her to act. I also make her repeat to me how she is going to behave, that way I know she understands what she is suppose to do. I also use postive reinforcement, I make a big deal while we are out of how she is acting like such a big kid and how proud I am of her, and also when we have left whereever we were. I also always let her bring a backpack of things to do, I let her pick, and snacks of course. This really helps, esp. in a restaurant. You are going to have to take them out, they need to know how to act in public, and it is important for developing their social skills. It will just take a few times for them to realize you aren't backing down. I know that there have been times when I was grocery shopping and my daughter would throw a fit. I would calmly talk to her about her behavior, and then if she didn't stop, I would just ignore her, seriously. I would walk through walmart buying groceries with a screaming kid. she would eventually stop, b/c she knew she wasnt getting her way, and that I was in charge, I was going to do what I set out to do no matter what she pulled.

Jodi - posted on 03/03/2009

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In my days prior to being a SAHM I was in special education; specializing in behavior modification. If you want to get technical and really take control of their behaviors here is what I learned while in school and teaching.
1. set explicit rules. (explain what the desired behavior LOOKS and SOUNDS like for each scenario. In the grocery store this is what I expect... in a restaurant this is what I expect...) I suggest completing a grid with desired behavior for the problem (and appropriate punishment) areas just so YOU know how you want your children to behave. Discuss exactly what you expect on your way there and be sure the punishment is clear.
2. PRAISE! As soon as you child/children are doing the desired behavior praise the heck out of it. Children love to be praised! Even my jaded high school emotionally disturbed students loved praise. An excellent technique... if one child is doing what you want but the other is not say "I really like how you are..." maybe even offer a token reward and I guarantee your other child will follow suit. Be sure though when they do you praise the other child as well.
3. stay cool as a cucumber. do not let your child see embarrassment or anger on your face or body language.
4. follow through with any punishment you discussed if the undesired behavior occurs.


I hope this makes sense... if not feel free to ask me more questions. I always found this to be structured discipline and allowed me to remain calm in the midst of a melt down.

[deleted account]

i think you did exactly what i would have done there is no need to stay there and be embarrassed when you can just leave and i think it shows your kids that if they do act that way that there are concequenses and maybe they will think for the next time! just make sure when you do get them home to tell them why you left and what you want from them the next time and if they act out again that the same thing will happen! i am lucky my kids act like perfect angels when we are out but at home they are bouncing off the walls but i cant complain cause i would rather it be that way! i actually had an elderly couple decide to move there seat when i arrived at a restaurant when she saw all 4 of my kids but they also came by our table on there way out and complimented on how well behaved they were i think they regretted moving.... so i say stick to your guns and eventually they will learn to behave or else they wont get to go out to eat with mommy!!

April - posted on 03/03/2009

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Hi! I know what you're going through. I have 4, 2, and 1 yr old. The one problem that I think most of us have is that we don't sit down and eat with our kids at home. I make my children's plates and then by the time I'm ready to sit down and eat, they are done and wanting to leave the table. I guess we need to teach our children proper behavior at the table at home and hope they can carry their manners into the public. I do take them all to the store with me. I just have to prepare. I always pack snacks, drinks, small toys, anything to distract them. They also enjoy all the samples at the store. If they will behave, I'll let them have one cookie from the bakery. Good luck with your adventures!

[deleted account]

Hey Charity. I am very inspired by your story. That is something I really have to work on. Following through with what I say. I just don't bother taking my kids out to the stores with me any more for the fact they always act up. Some days if I take just one kid with me it's not so bad but if I try to take all three of them I might as well forget it. It just isn't fun. Thanks again.

April - posted on 03/03/2009

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I absolutely think that you did the right thing. I have 5 kids, and when I take any or all of them out to eat, we have a discussion in the car about how we are going to behave. If one does not, we walk outside and stand in front of the restaraut untll they are ready to go back in. the next time we leave. If my husband is with us, one of us takes the misbehaving child to the car so the rest of them can enjoy the meal. another thing I try to do with the younger ones is to bring a quiet activity to do when they are waiting, or walk around with them a bit while we wait for the food--sometimes, its just not happening, and its time to go. You dont have to be embarrassed (easier said than done, I've done my walk of shame out of a few places!!) just because they are having a bad behavior time, does not make you a bad mom-you handled it the right way. by the way, I find it helpful to not eat dessert in resteraunts, its just asking too much for us all to sit that long- I ask for the check as soon as we get our food, plus a couple of to go boxes in case we need to leave (plus we almost always end up with some left overs) its a bribe, but I tell the kids if they have good behavior we will drive through and get dessert or the library/ or even special game time when we get home --so the obedient kids still get rewarded, but we can control the situation if someone acts up.

Maaike - posted on 03/03/2009

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I would suggest doing smaller outings with them as it would appear that they are not yet ready for restaurants (we've all been there! sometimes you just have to leave, good for you).  Maybe try taking them for a walk to the nearby park and bring some snacks and pretend you are at a restaurant...after a few sessions that involve good behaviour, try taking them to an indoor playground or mommy's playgroup and see if that works out.  Once you feel more comfortable in low key surroundings, then you could try the restaurant; but make sure you give them expectations ahead of time.

[deleted account]

Thanks so much for the responses. I just find it hard sometimes when the kids listen better for their father than they do me. Maybe I expect too much for them to sit at a table and eat their food. I know they can do it but they choose not to when I'm the one taking them out. I mean why can't they be as good for me as they are for him? I guess that's a question that will never really get answered :) Thanks again.

Heather - posted on 03/03/2009

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i bring something to entertian them cause i know when they are done they wanna leave ... and if its the whole family you dont want to spend 40/80 $$ on a meal and have to rush out. IT will get better, my boys are 6 n 4

[deleted account]

My vote is with you.  Deffinately leave the restaurant, but don't be embarassed.  The kids should not be rewarded for acting up.  I have two, younger than yours, and take them out alone frequently.  The thing that works best for my two year old (the oldest) is to set up expectations ahead of time.  She loves eating out so I tell her, "We're going to a restaurant for lunch.  You need to be a good girl, or we will have to leave."  We also talk about what we might want to eat, etc.  I also always bring small snacks with me.  I don't know how this will play out when they are both older, but I believe starting out from the begining is much easier than changing behavor later.  Also, if they're great when your husband is around, take advantage and go out as often as you can as a family.  I think this helps get them in the swing of eating in public and will cross over when you're out with them alone.  Go mom! Hope it helps.

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