Well Behaved Kids… my response

Last Friday we went to eat dinner at a local italian restaurant, Sogno di Vino, in Poulsbo, WA. We’ve eaten there a handful of times over the past couple years and have enjoyed their braised short ribs, divine pizzas and mushroom ragu. We were seated at one of the last available tables around 6pm and were greeted happily with menus and bread. We sat and discussed planets, racecars, zebra jokes and “Freckle Juice” until we ate our pizzas, pasta and aforementioned ragu. The food was lovely, our oldest, who is clearly in a growth spurt, ate her share and mine, and our littles munched happily while periodically stopping to notice the small fireplace in the corner and the window paintings on the wall of grapevines in Italy. “Wine is grape juice, Papa”, says our 8 year old, who also declares that “It tastes gross to kids”. Near the end of our meal, our server visits our table to tell us how impressed the staff was with our kids’ behavior and that many of them didn’t even realize we had little ones eating with us. She then brought us a bowl of ice cream to share. When we received our tab, it had a discount listed for “Well Behaved Kids”. A pleasant surprise after a lovely meal.

Well Behaved Kids

As a family of five with kids aged 2, 3 and 8, we know the restaurant staff isn’t always terribly excited to have us at one of their larger tables. Having worked front of house in the restaurant industry prior to having children, I also know first hand what it can be like to serve families. We eat most of our meals as a family around our kitchen table. It is one of the ways we come together throughout our week to talk about our lives, to catch up and to share our love. We don’t have any hard rules about there not being iPods or laptops at the table, but most of the time they aren’t welcome. We do sometimes Google something surrounding our conversation… we’ve been known to look at Google Earth quite a bit at dinner time. Our kids are also encouraged to pick up on general etiquette at the table. That same etiquette occurs when we’re out at dinner. We, as parents, lead by example and if we have to spell out what and how we’re doing something, we will. We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.

My suggestions to other parents:
* Take your kids out to eat at least a couple times a month.
* Give your kids a snack before you head out.
* Be sure they’re rested and healthy.
* Be ready to engage with your kids.
* Notice the people, art, music, food in the room and talk about it.
* Encourage your kids to talk with you just like you would talk with another adult.
* Enjoy the time you’ve carved out to be with them.

ETA: In response to the hype found on huffington post, msn, reddit.

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60 thoughts on “Well Behaved Kids… my response

  1. Extremely well said and I applaud you. I use to have people come to our table of 6, 4 children, mom and dad and say how well behaved they were. The things you suggest above are so right on. And especially engaging with them. If you are ignored, you tend to be more apt to misbehave.

  2. Hi Laura,

    I’m a writer for NBCNews.com and I would like to talk to you about your experience at the restaurant. Can you contact me via my e-mail as soon as possible? Thank you.

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  8. Just be grateful you don’t have any children with ADHD or other developmental issues that makes it impossible for them to sit still nicely at a restaurant (my situation). I applaud you for your obviously great and attentive parenting, and I am happy for you that you have the type of children that are capable be being what society calls “well behaved kids”.

    • I understand what your saying, however if your child has adhd or any problem that causes a disturbance to others, then it is your duty to fix that situation immediately.
      If it means leaving the restaurant, so be it. Other diners should not have to put up with being disturbed by your problem.

      • No Way man. I mean, I get where you are coming from, but also you are basically telling someone to be a shut in. That’s not OK. In society sometimes you have to practice patience and compassion. If you don’t want to do that, you can stay home.

      • I have to say, I completely disagree. When I am waitressing (my part-time job alongside being a student, meaning I am often tired and have to fake a smile) I often have to deal with children with Aspergers, ADHD, etc as there is a good local primary school that specialises in children with a need for specialised teaching, etc. I have never had a truly negative experience – though that may be down to my positive attitude and the fact I like kids – as I always think about how the parent’s didn’t choose for their child to suffer behavioural difficulties, and nor did the poor child! So therefore they should not be sidelined by society. (And George, how horrible to say ‘your problem’ when describing someone’s disadvantaged child! Seriously?).
        Personally, I think it is usually very obvious when a child has even a mild behavioural disorder and alternatively when they are just a little s*** that has been spoilt and turned out to be a brat. If a naughty child throws food around and screams, I will still be polite but will expect an apology from the parents.
        Recently a girl of about 6 was very fidgety, kept running around and getting under my feet while I was carrying hot plates (despite her parents’ best efforts), crying and shouting randomly and throwing food around, but her parents had the courtesy to mention her condition early on and I didn’t hesitate to make a real effort to make them feel comfortable and to try and make the little girl smile by being silly whenever I spoke to her. It’s all about attitude. Here in the UK we get paid a more reasonable wage than it seems most do in the US and it is VERY rare to get a tip (once a week is good going, I often go weeks or even months without a tip) and it is usually a sign that you have given very outstanding service (and the people you are serving are wealthy haha) but this family left a small tip and made a point of personally thanking me when they left. I also make a point of mentioning to parents how lovely and well behaved their children are when it is the case, and I’m only human; if someone has horrible kids and doesn’t make an effort to control them or apologise, I won’t go out of my way to make them feel like I enjoyed serving them!
        Rant over, sorry. I just feel quite passionate about this despite not having personal connections to anyone in this situation!

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  10. Actively teaching kids manners seems to be a lost art. You seem to have a gentler approach that’s working, congrats. Manners really are about having consideration for others and understanding that your actions can have an impact outside of you.

  11. Hello, I read about you in Yahoo and I must say I am happy for you to have so good behaved kids but on the other hand we should just wonder a bit about what happened. It seems the world is not made for kids, so much is that so that if in a Restaurant, they don’t notice your three kids, they congratulate you! My goodness, kids are kids and people should just welcome them anywhere! kids are our future, and although i understand a good behaviour must be encouraged and education is so important, for gods sake, kids are kids and should be invited to be! we should not encourage a restaurant discount for quiet kids but show the world that kids must be kids and places like restaurants should be more adapted to them, play time spaces and welcome gifts such as in the airplanes (pencils, notebook….). Let kids be kids!
    (my message is to give another point of view of it all, but I critizise nothing but the restaurant behaviour!!!!!). e. cat.

    • Elena, Kids have plenty of time to be kids. But parents are not doing them any favors by letting them run wild in public places – especially restaurants or other establishments where a peaceful environment is what people are paying for. Kids will benefit in the near and short term from learning discipline (As in, sometimes you must be relatively still and keep your voice down. Later, you can get your energy out.) Yes, kids are our future. This is why it is every parents’ responsibility to train them the best we can. Kids need more than fun. They have to become prepared for the rules and regulations that they will begin to encounter as young adults. Besides, kids naturally feel more secure and happy when they have consistent rules and boundaries.

      • My dad told me “There’s always a time and a place”. The park is the place for running, the library is the place for reading, the restaurant is the place for eating and conversing respectfully. Kids do have a bit of leeway in that we don’t expect them to know all the social rules, but parents should be aware when they’re breaking those rules and take the opportunity to guide and teach. Complete oblivion when your kids are running around rampant as though a restaurant serves as a babysitting service is disrespectful, bottom line. And this is the behavior restaurant staff deals with on a daily basis.

  12. Congratulations! I’m spanish and i’ve seen this new in yahho.es. My english reading is very bad an i’d like say something in my lenguage, spanish: Enhorabuena por esa educación para sus hijos. Yo tengo una hija de dos años y me resulta a veces muy difícil cómo encauzar su comportamiento. La llevamos a comer a veces a restaurantes y a veces se porta bien y otras, no. Un saludo.

    • Arbelejo said:

      “[I] congratulate you on such an education of your children. I have a two year old daughter and I find it sometimes very difficult to manage her behavior. We take her to eat at restaurants occasionally and sometimes [she] behaves well and sometimes not. Best regards.”

      I thought it was interesting that the restaurant used this method to thank you for the patronage of your well-behaved kiddos. Congrats on the good report!

  13. Neat to hear your experiences. And good on that Poulsbo restaurant. My wife and I have our first offspring (two year old). I am determined to have her be respectful and possessed of discipline. In the past two or three weeks I have been in an establishment (here in the Seattle area) just trying to enjoy a peaceful beer and have had kids literally running around tables and squealing and yelling. No excuse for this, parents. Yes, some kids find it more difficult to sit still and behave, but these parents were just ignoring their curtain-crawlers and chatting up a storm with their friends. Elena (the commenter, I disagree with your position and will be specific in my reply to your comment.

    • Thanks for your reply… I dig your blog :)
      We have had really awesome experiences with all of our kids at restaurants in the Seattle area. I’ll never forget when my son was about 18 months old and we were eating at Kingfish Cafe. My son was completely intrigued by our server… our server picked him up out of his high chair, walked him around the restaurant talking about what they saw, what they heard and then he brought him back to our table. That is the kind of community we need in order to raise confident children who will inevitably “behave” well in public. Unfortunately we get a bunch of bitter parents who take any and all comments to be offensive and end up letting their kids act as wild as they’d like.

      • Hey Laura, thanks! Wow, that was quite a server you had at Kingfish. Took me a minute to realize you were the writer of this blog. I looked at your home page or whatever it’s called (an inexperienced blogger here) and saw you guys homebrew. Me too. Regards to you and your family. Sounds like your kids have great parents.

  14. I prefer the tab without discount. Do you tell your kids after having dinner at a restaurant that you received an discount because of their well behaviour? Maybe one day you get an extra discount because of extra well behaviour. Strange world.

    • Do you prefer a world without random acts of kindness? I don’t have to tell my kids about a monetary reward on my tab because that’s not what my kids are there for. The praise they do receive is when the server comes to our table and thanks them for being there.

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  16. The key is to expose your children (infants, actually) to adult expectations. And,
    beyond exposing them, hold them responsible for their behavior. We took our two daughters on their first ten hour auto trip at ages 6 months and 3 months, respectively. Not a problem. Our eldest went out to a ‘white tablecloth’ restaurant at the age of 4 days. Not a problem. Only once did I feel compelled to take our eldest outside for a few minutes because WE thought she might be disturbing other diners. If the ‘new wave’ parents would get the message that their ‘angel’ is not the most important person in the universe, things would go a lot smoother

    • I completely agree about exposure. It’s not reasonable to think that your kids are going to learn how to act in various public venues if they’re kept at home and allowed to act any old way when they’re there.

  17. Congrats on the reward! I wish I could take your advice but our son is unpredictable. He has special needs. If he has a meltdown, we are unable to do what you do with your kids (talk to them about their behavior, etc). If our son starts to act up, we hurry up and eat and get the heck out of there. We don’t want to be rude, so we either leave or one of us takes him outside while the other finishes eating.

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    • adults who resort to physical discipline, miss what discipline means and also indicates they have an inability to solve the problem in a less-violent way. Discipline means “To Teach”…what are you teaching when you spank….it might be “quicker to resolve present challenge” however, in the long run, they become resentful and a host of other uncomfortable ways of being. Taking the time to create a consitent approach and method for acceptable behavior requires consistent and mindful action. More energy is put out, however….the rewards are endless. Please do not hit a little child…it is so harmful…really :)

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  23. Kudos to your family…I ALWAYS compliment any family with children who behave while in restaurants. (Side note: it seems most children who behave in public are home-schooled…I DO ask the parents if they are.) You two are awesome parents and I thank you for teaching your children respect for others. They are truly lucky to have you….the excuses other parents use when their children misbehave just floors me. These are the same parents who will forever ‘excuse’ their childrens behavior long into their teen years and then wonder why their kids end up in jail. Parents PLEASE teach your children proper social behavior….if you’re sitting next to me in a restaurant and your children behave more than likely I will pick up the tab.

  24. My kids are now 13 and 15 but we’ve always taken them to dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, etc. with us. They have always been well behaved and have never caused a scene. Because our kids have always been so good when taken to these places, we hate being seated near people with kids who cry and run around and make messes (and the parents just totally ignore them). Your kids are wonderful and I’m glad you and your family were rewarded for their good behavior.

  25. I would love to ask you a question, although not to start a debate. I would ask you personally, but only know how to talk to you this way. I have 4 children and we practice attachment parenting (although my kids are much older now, it’s what we have done since the first one was born). Anyway, I’m involved on many pages on Facebook about parenting and don’t believe in using spanking as discipline. Many people insist you can’t get well-behaved children without spanking them. I have always gotten compliments on my children’s behavior and manners, which I kind of think is silly because misbehaved kids are almost the norm and expected these days. The point…is spanking a method of discipline you use for your children? My guess, from your blog and the article is no, but just curious. Not judging either way, just would love to use this article on one of my pages on FB showing that *many well-behaved children are not that way because they are spanked, but because of good parenting. Lovely job! Glad you enjoyed your dinner. :)

  26. Just my opinion, but this comes across as some uppity mother, who thinks they have it all figured out, and their kids can do no wrong.

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  28. kdb……I read and liked your statement: “many well-behaved children are not that way b/c they are spanked, but b/c of Good Parenting.” I completely agree. Would you mind giving me your Facebook page…….I’d like to read further on this topic.

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