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What should a mom do when her toddler starts crying uncontrollably in a restaurant?

My son has his moments where he'll start wailing when you try to put him in the high chair. We went to Carabba's yesterday, he usually does just fine with sitting and eating his meal. We try to make it fun for him. He went #2 in his diaper, so I took him to the bathroom to change him. He got nervous on the changing table and started screaming bloody murder. When I came back to take him to the high chair, he refused to go in and wanted to get down and play. He just screamed and cried harder. I knew it was annoying other diners. I felt like I wanted to cry myself. I didn't want to end the meal, and I knew he wasn't going to magically stop crying anytime soon. We don't spank, so that wasn't an option.

What would you have done?

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Asked by Anonymous at 8:18 AM on Feb. 17, 2010 in General Parenting

Answers (56)
  • Walked outside with him until he settled down..That's what I always did..Nothing is more annoying that bad kids in a restaurant..That's why I go out to eat, to relax and have a meal served to me in peace!!


    Answer by Anonymous at 8:32 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • Remove him from the restaurant. You can go sit with him in the car for as long as it takes, or you can pack up his meal and yours, have your husband pay the bill, and go home. However, if what he wants is to go home you're only giving in to his demands. You may not want to end the meal, but IMO it's not fair to other diners to have their meal disturbed by your child.
    But I know how you feel - my oldest has autism and had awful tantrums around the age of 2. I would hate to tell you how many times I picked him up fussing out of a restaurant and ended up eating my meal at the house.

    Answer by missanc at 8:35 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • I have dealt with this twice with my 3 year old when she was younger. The first time, it really was my fault because she was exhausted and I ignored it anyway like a terrible mom and took her with me to dinner with a friend and her kid, plus we had to wait like half an hour to get seated. She did ok til the end then she had her meltdown so I just sat thru it inside because we were just waiting for the check. The second time she had a meltdown in a restaurant it was when my whole freakin family was there, and it was super embarassing. I took her outside and sat with her til she stopped, it took about 15 minutes for her to calm down. But she was purely angelic when we went back in.

    Answer by tnm786 at 8:41 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • i have to agree with anon 8:32. i always took my little girl outside until she calmed down. we spank but not for something like that. it sounds like he was just scared when his diaper was changed and wanted you to give him attention. try bringing his favorite coloring book and a few crayons. my little girl loves that. she has a little "supper" kit that she grabs only for when we go out to supper. she stays quiet and happy. good luck mama i feel your pain.


    Answer by Anonymous at 8:43 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • I always bring lots of distractions, but I bet I can one up you, so your dinner drama doesn't sound so bad. When my oldest was under two, he went through a stage where literally out of boredom he would MAKE himself puke. It was horrible, and literally he would just shove one hand down his throat REALLY fast, so fast you couldn't even catch him sometimes and then all of a sudden he was puking, was never upset, not crying and honestly he would laugh after he puked. It was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo annoying to clean up and I worried that he wasn't getting enough from all the foods that he was eating since he was puking it all up. So here we are, at Pizza Hut, Texas Road House, and in the car randomly and I would just give him little snacks, bites of my food whatever and he would puke it all out AT the restaurant while people were eating around us. We stopped going out for quite a while, Pizza Hut was the worst....Cont-

    Answer by MamaRoberts at 9:11 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • I would make our meals to go and wait in the lobby while it comes.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:12 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • Get your food to go and leave.

    This gives other diners peace and quiet to enjoy their meal and will teach a toddler that if they do not behave in a restaurant, they will have to leave. This also saves management from dealing with an awkward situation should another diner complain and insist they "handle the situation".

    I did this with my kids and only had to do it twice. Kids need to know there are consequences for their actions. Going out to eat is a treat that should be enjoyed by all.

    Answer by MaryJacobs at 9:14 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • Because when he did that there, he was smiling at the waitstaff after and they are all helping me get this cleaned up and I am just apologizing all over the place, to them to the other customer's, I literally wanted to crawl under the seat and just melt into the ground. Best advise I can give you, is this will pass (Gage thank GOD stopped puking whenever he wanted to) find some humor, lots of distractions, and know that other customer's can not expect peace and quiet in a family restaurant. As my boys have gotten older, I have taken them into the bathroom to calm down, that seems to work, but I suppose outside would be good too.

    Answer by MamaRoberts at 9:15 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • Eating in restaurants is so boring for little kids and until they are used entertaining themselves quietly by coloring or reading it's really hard to keep them happy. Anyone with kids knows what you are going through and is willing to cut you a little slack on some fussing, but ignoring a full out tantrum with screaming may cross the line. I agree with the people who said to take him for a walk to the lobby or outside and let him calm down/get out some of that energy. I'd also try try to keep a tote bag of fun stuff that may distract him like crayons, paper, books, quiet toys, and things like that.

    My son also hates to get into the high chair, but I've found that if there is already food or toys in front of him BEFORE I try to get him to sit he does a lot better. Try putting a piece of bread in front of him and then putting him into the chair.

    Answer by beckcorc at 9:36 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

  • Been there, done that. I would have taken him outside. Let him run around a bit. You would be wise to find a sitter for your son when you and hub go out, will be more enjoyable for you :)

    Answer by Zakysmommy at 9:37 AM on Feb. 17, 2010

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