Whenever we go out to eat with our children in public, it’s a toss up on whether or not they’ll actually eat, or treat the meal as “sit down playtime.” Even if it seems like they are hungry, they don’t always eat the food that we order for them (and that they usually request). Straws, spoons and cups are often more fascinating and the entertainment of banging those items on the table trumps the growling in their bellies.

I personally don’t turn down the opportunity to enjoy a nice meal. Then again, it’s probably because I enjoy meals that I don’t have to make! But for kids, eating out is an adventure.

For our littlest one, we’ll break up the food into bite sized pieces, and after she eats a few, she’ll do this sweeping motion and knock the rest on the floor. After a few more minutes, we’ll try again with something else, and again, she’ll play with it, poke at it and maybe nibble for a second, but then it becomes a floor decoration. When she’s bored, she does her dragon screech and we have to find ways to keep her busy while we finish our meal.

Our older child is a little better, at least keeping his food on the table, but usually half-eaten. He’ll say he doesn’t like the drink he has and ask for some of ours. Or he’ll see what we ordered and say he wants that instead. If we tell him he has to eat what he has, sometimes he’ll comply. Other times, we have to shush him in the middle of his tantrum. Can’t kids just sit down and eat a meal without having to make a scene?

Can you relate? Do you feel a twinge of anxiety when you take your kids out to eat in public?

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