Anonymous

I’m so tired of fighting with my 3 year old every time we go out to eat

I used to love going out to restaurants with my family but now I hate it! I never want to go anywhere to sit down and eat because yes miserable for me and my son cause he doesn’t want to eat anything so the whole time we’re out is spent with me trying to get him to try something or trying to keep him entertained so he doesn’t get bored and upset I hate it! I don’t get to eat I get anxiety and get so worked up all he wants to go is play around. I don’t know what to do anymore I stoped going out with my family all together and that just makes me sad and feel left out cause I see families everywhere going. Out and enjoying a sit down meal but I’ve never had that

  • Momof2
    May 31

    Going out to eat with kids is hard! We find the most success in going to places that have outdoor play areas where the kids can play while we eat. If you don’t have anything like that in your neighborhood sometimes we will also grab takeout and bring it to a park so the kids can play and my husband and I sit at a park bench and watch them while we eat

  • Anonymous
    May 31

    Hang in there! The key is to keep repeating and reinforcing - I completely get your frustration and it can seem like an impossible task, but remember how they grow out of behaviors. Immersing them in experiences will help them learn better than taking them out of those situations. Try going to restaurants when they are not busy so that you both can eat without being stressed.

  • Anonymous
    Jun 01

    I never leave the house without a pb and j just Incase 😂 but honestly, not going out to eat might just be your season of life right now. Won’t last forever!

  • Em
    Jun 04

    We play pretend restaurant at home. At the restaurant, I recommend asking for a box as soon as you order. That way, if his behavior heads south, you can box your food up, pay and scram. I recommend a loud restaurant like Chuy’s or Chick-fil-a. There’s a free nacho bar during the week 4-7pm at Chuy’s and almost every kid loves nachos. If you can find a place that has an fish tank or really cool art, that will distract him long enough for you to eat. I do not even bother to try to get my kids to try something in particular. I give my two daughters two healthy options and let them order. Usually they chose Mac and cheese or nachos with a side order of vegetables. And water or milk.

  • Kendall
    Jun 04

    Also those same lines as em we do the same! We order as soon as we sit down and ask for boxes and the check when the waiter comes back to “check on us”.... try to be as fast as possible 😂

  • Jessi
    Jun 04

    When my son was young I used bring a bag full of toys with us to keep him entertained. Don’t force him to eat. Start small with behaving in the restaurant. He can always eat left overs.

  • Daniella
    Jun 04

    This makes me think of date nights. Babysitter or grandparent can watch the kiddo and you can enjoy a nice relaxing and or romantic dinner out. Granted it’s only every once and a while, but it help keep the sanity to be able to separate your parenthood and your adulthood. Plus, you come home happy and your kiddo happy. Win-Win

  • Taylor
    Jun 06

    We always let him pick a toy to take to play with in the restaurant. As far as eating we look at the kids meal and then give him 2-3 options off the kids meal and let him pick and order it. He eats way better when he picks what he wants and he thinks it’s so cool to be able to tell the waiter what he wants.

  • Leelee
    Jun 06

    I'm sorry I have to disagree with the bringing of outside food. One, most places won't let you for a child that's old enough to eat. Two, it's against health code. And three, it tells them they don't have to eat anything there, it'll be provided for them by you. The restaurant at home is brilliant. I think eating in the park is smart too. If they don't want to eat, fine, let them color or watch something on a tablet or phone or whatever normally entertains them. Maybe let them pick the place you go too? They get to be apart of the choice, you can look at menus on line before you go too.

  • Terry
    Jun 06

    I agree most restaurants won't allow you to bring in food except for a baby who is still on 'baby' food. I've seen this in the past with two of my grandchildren at that age and the more you give in it doesn't improve. I disagree with electronics at the table. This will then be expected by them all the time even when they get older. Playing restaurant at home may be an option and giving them choices from the menu even if it's the same thing all the time. Our granddaughter has eaten mac and cheese for years and that is all when she goes out to eat. Another hint....make sure they are good and hungry before you go out :-). If they get something to drink with the meal don't let them fill up on that before they eat part of their meal. Hang in there.

  • Christine
    Jun 06

    I check the menu beforehand online and give my order to whoever I’m with (husband/friend/family) before we ever sit down - I take my kid and walk around with her until the very last moment when the meal comes. Makes less time at the table. Also have special toys only for restaurants, I take tiny cups of play doh which are like less then $1 each and pretty much disposable.

  • Megcm1
    Jun 06

    Lots of great advise above. I have a two year old and going out to eat is definitely not as relaxing as it used to be. But we still take our son out 1-2 times a week. Here is what works for us. First, we talk about whatever food gets him excited before we go. Normally that is French fries, which he only gets at restaurants. Second, I order a side of fries as we are sitting down to eat. Almost every restaurant has fries. I then give him bites/tastes of food other people have ordered. Sometimes he will eat hamburger or chicken or steak. Sometimes he only eats two fries. That’s okay - this is one meal out of 1,000,000. I don’t stress about how much or what he is eating. Third, I bring a bunch of toys/games/snacks to entertain him until the fries arrive. He loves gold fish and will eat/play with those while we wait. He also loves sucking on ice. For toys we have sticker books and coloring books. His favorite though is a car he can load the gold fish into and out of. Forth, if all else fails and he is having a meltdown, I let him watch Paw Patrol on my phone. This works 100% of the time, but I save it for a last resort. My sanity is important also, and if a phone allows him to sit there silently for 20 minutes while mommy eats, so be it. There have been meals where I never needed my phone, and meals where I give it to him 30 seconds after we arrive. As I said, my sanity is important also and mommy is hungry too. Good luck!

  • Anonymous
    Jun 06

    Agree with so many things above. It was nearly impossible to take my kid to any restaurant- even an empty/quiet fast food place, from 1-3 years old. We’ve learned a few tricks- besides brining some food for him if really there’s not even butter noodles on the menu (even then...). A small white board with markers and a paper towel eraser gets us through the ordering period. Then one of us usually takes him outside on a walk while we wait for the food. We are practicing using noise muffling headphones for him (like ear protection for concerts and kids with autism). He has mild sensory processing and ADHD, so even mellow casual restaurants are overwhelming and the noise and action makes it impossible for him to focus on eating, even french fries. So that’s helping. Then, sometimes 1/2 way through the meal, we order ice cream or a milkshake for him. He still has to eat some bites of his dinner in between ice cream bites, but it gets him to sit there longer so we can enjoy our meal, and takes out the anxiety around having to eat dinner before getting a treat. We don’t do a lot of sweets at home, so I figure the occasional milkshake binge is a good trade off to get him used to the experience of going out. And I can drink my wine... :) practice is key- it’s so easy to just avoid it because it’s stressful.

  • Anonymous
    Jun 06

    Agree with everyone who says don’t bring in outside food- we only do that in a pinch if he’s really hungry but can’t focus and we need to eat (like if traveling). And NEVER leave behind outside food trash- I was a server and hated cleaning that up! We keep it to goldfish crackers. We view restaurant eating more as “practice” for our son and focus on the behavior and having fun with it and throwing any cares about what he eats (or not) out the window for now.

  • Gean
    Jun 06

    From reading these I guess Im the only one that had a mother that said, "If you dont like what I cooked, you can go with out"! I realize that that is harder when you go out, because there might be a scene. But trust me, The more you do it at home, the sooner the point will be made and understood. This is first hand experience here.

  • Nana
    Jun 08

    Make sure meal times at home are scheduled. Same rules go for restaurant behavior as home. Set the timer at home he doesn’t get up till the timer goes off. If you make food a stress he will also have anxiety over food. Relax enjoy the meal and conversation. Offer foods but don’t make it a battle.