My husband’s always telling me that I’m not strict enough with the kids so I was pleased to quote this piece of Dr Spock advice to him:
Strictness is harmful when parents are overbearing, harsh or make no allowances for a child’s individuality
He says that he’s not suggesting permissiveness but rather the importance of being firm, consistent and FAIR.
I decide (much to T’s horror) that we’ll take the kids out to lunch to put the theory into practice.
These days we pretty much limit eating out to Pizza Express, where the kids can eat with their fingers and anything goes. But not this time- this time we venture out for roast beef….
In the past, eating in nice restaurants has caused strife between me and T, as well as us and the kids.
He expects them to be able to sit still and quietly at the table whereas I know that to them the restaurant is a playground waiting to be explored. There’s no hope of them keeping their bottoms on their seats while they wait for their food to come.
Here’s what happened last time (You’ll see why T was reluctant to try it again!)
Mummy, I just need to see where those stairs go– says Ben
Sit down. You can’t go running around in a restaurant you’ll get things spilled on you.– I say
Oh no I won’t!– says Ben slipping out of my reach and knocking into a waiter carrying a drinks tray.
That’s it! T shouts jumping up
In the kerfuffle that follows we think we’ve lost Harry only to find he’s under the table in a ‘cave’.
I’m determined that this time will be different. We’ll be calm (but firm) and will get to eat our lunch.
I have a plan:
Dr S Advice: Set rules that take into account your children’s needs
My Rule: No running around the restaurant while we’re waiting for our food to come
Taking their needs into account:
After we’ve ordered, I’ll take the kids for a little walk around the restaurant to satisfy their curiosity and bring toys to occupy them while we wait for our food to arrive.
I’ll also tell them a story while they eat to make sure they don’t start jumping up from the table in the middle of the meal.
Reward: They can choose a pudding if they stick to the rules.
And the result:
I told the boys the rules before they were in the restaurant and again as soon as we sat down and although Harry did try to go into his ‘cave’ once or twice and managed to stick a piece of bread up his nose (whole other story) in the main we got through lunch and actually managed to quite enjoy ourselves.
Setting rules but making allowances for the kids needs worked well, though it did take a lot of careful planning.
Oh and the best result- we all got to eat our roast beef!