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How should we react when my 21-month-old grandson misbehaves in restaurants?

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How should we react when my 21-month-old grandson misbehaves in restaurants?


In general, toddlers and restaurants—at least the ones that don't have fast food and play spaces—are not a good match. It has nothing at all to do with misbehavior, and everything to do with natural development.

It's normal for children this age and older to (1) be frustrated by having to wait and (2) want to be the center of attention. That's just the way toddlers are. Here are some suggestions:

For the next few years, don't take your grandson to restaurants that are not set up specifically to cater to young children. Remember that the child is much more interested in the social experience—spending time with you—than in the cuisine. For fun, set up a pretend restaurant at home where he can not only be the customer but also the sous-chef as you jointly create his favorite bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When he's in preschool, start bringing him to restaurants that have waiters. Make sure you bring something to do during the time between ordering the food and when it arrives. (Restaurants that have fish tanks are a great bet.) If he's still overwhelmed or frustrated by the experience, wait a few months and try again.  

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