How to Get the Kids to Behave When You Entertain

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How to Get the Kids to Behave When You Entertain
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How to Get the Kids to Behave When You Entertain

How can you get your brood to behave? Read on to find out.

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Start Early

It is unfair to allow kids to act like monkeys at the dinner table at home and then, expect them to walk the line when you are out. Family dinners can be casual, but they can also be respectful. Insist on good table manners early. Even young children can learn the basics.

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Go Out Beforehand

Take them out to dinner in the weeks leading up to a holiday. Pick a place that is kid friendly, but where your kids can learn the proper etiquette of dining -- something in between fast food and fine dining. Go early, when the restaurant is quiet, so you won’t have concerns about bothering the other patrons. Encourage kids to place their own order and to keep their napkin on their lap. Don’t bring electronics. Start the habit of fixing every problem with an app at a young age, and you will end up with a 12 year old who can’t carry on a conversation.

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Talk To The Kids Beforehand

Small children can get away with disrupting a dinner, but older kids should behave. A whiny 6 year old, or a surly adolescent is unacceptable. Talk about your expectations with kids old enough to understand prior to arriving at a holiday dinner. Most children will rise to the occasion when they know what is expected of them. Explain dinner is only a short part of the day, the adults work very hard to make it special and you will appreciate considerate behavior.

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Come Prepared

Bring cups with lids and keep glassware out of reach. Spills on your in-laws finest linen may raise a few eyebrows. That being said, keep your expectations low, and come prepared.

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Limit Silverware

Limit silverware to only the bare minimum. Knives and spoons can quickly turn into drumsticks or weapons.

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Don't Feed The Kids Before

Do not feed your kids before sitting down for the formal meal. If kids are hungry, they will sit still longer.

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Bring Entertainment

Have a few, small holiday printables and a couple crayons in your back pocket. The smaller the paper, the less chance for disaster.

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Bring A Booster Seat

Bring booster seats with you, so little faces can rise to the occasion.

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Converse

Engage older kids in conversation during the meal. If they feel part of the table, they will behave accordingly.

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Let Them Play

When the meal is done, allow them to go play. The lingering part of the meal is boring for most adults. Don’t wait until they have their heads on their plates or are begging to be excused. As soon as reasonable, give them an out.

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Kids Table

In my home for the holidays, big kids sit with the family and little kids have their own, super-fun, all bets are off table. I know my sisters and sisters-in-law will enjoy themselves much more if their little ones are having a great time – food fights and all. However, not all of your hosts will have kid-friendly homes, and you shouldn't expect the whole day to be catered to your kids. Plan ahead and hope for the best. But, remember, children often act uncharacteristically rude and grumpy just when you want them on their best behavior. In a crowded room, with the exhaustion that comes with the excitement and grown-ups peppering them with questions, we can only expect so much from the under five crowd. Sometimes, you just have to ignore them, drink your wine and pretend you don’t see the death stare from your mother-in-law.

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You can dress up small children, but you can't always take them out. While it is true kids will be kids, at the New Year's Eve dinner table you really wish they would just grow up. The table is set beautifully, someone worked really hard on the meal and your mother-in-law is judging your parenting, There is nothing cute about little Johnny tossing a chicken leg at Aunt Shirley.

Check out the slideshow above to discover helpful tips on taking the kids out to dinner.

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Expert Approved Karen Latimer

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