Why are they so much worse in restaurants?!

QUESTION:

We took the kids out to a restaurant the other night. My 4-year-old daughter acted worse than my two-year-old! We kept telling her to behave, but it just got worse. Where did I go wrong?

Answer:

Four is a much harder age than two, in my opinion.

Did you talk to them before going in and review the restaurant rules? Was it later than you usually eat? Fancier than they are used to and trained for?

Was it a sudden thing that forced them to transition without proper adjustment time? Even if you knew in advance, did you prepare them? My kids get crazy when they’re very excited.

I would have had my children up and moving outside until the food was actually at the table, and again while waiting for the check (or have them bring the check with the food for faster service time).

But, I am guessing the real issue, if you’re anything like me, was one of expectation. I get ideas in my head of how special occasions will be, and they are very Hollywood and not at all realistic. I’m almost always disappointed. See, the kids don’t follow my script and my husband usually says something less than romantic, and I never behave up to my expectations. So I’ve been working on this.

Often before my husband and I go into some place where we really want to have a good time, we will look at each other and one of us will say, “No expectations. Whatever happens, happens. Relax. Just enjoy and have fun.” This always results in us having a much better time. If we start getting miserable, we realize we haven’t done this and we stop and fix it all with this exchange.