The icy stare. You've seen it before. Maybe you've even given it. There's probably no place it's dished out more than a nice restaurant when a family approaches with their kids. Diners fear riots, extreme noise levels, flying food and impromptu games of hide and seek. But you don't need to limit yourself to fast-food and rest stop experiences any longer -- dining out is a fun family experience when everyone learns to practice good table manners.
"Taking young kids out to eat can be like feeding a pack of wild animals," says Robi Ludwig, Psy.D., a Care.com parenting expert. "You need to be patient and have fun, knowing there is a big learning curve as you are socializing your kids on how to behave in public." Don't put tons of pressure on yourself or feel like a failure when your normally docile 5-year-old squeezes ketchup into your purse. Table manners take time. And ketchup stains can (eventually) be removed.
We asked Dr. Ludwig and Louise Elerding, author of You've Got Manners! a children's book series, for tips on turning uncouth dining experiences into ones that are (somewhat) poised.
—Alonna Friedman, Contributor, Care.com
This story was originally published on August 3, 2012.