Restaurant Etiquette for Kids – Don’t Be “That” Family!

restaurant etiquette

Restaurant Etiquette

You’ve seen them. The kids who act like Tasmanian Devils in a restaurant. They enter like they’ve come to the circus all reved up and ready to run around and play. They turn around in their booth to inspect other people’s food. They make structures with the sugar packets and salt shakers. They crawl under the table and … and …. well I’m not sure what they do under there.

Anyway, you get it. I just hope that your kids are not “these” kids. But, in case they do happen to need a little reminder on how to behave in a restaurant, have a look at my quick tips below.

Restaurant Etiquette for Kids

1. Remind your children ahead of time what behavior is expected of them. For example, no running around, talking loudly, and that they must use their best manners.

2. Bring something into the restaurant to entertain them if needed. This can be an activity book or something quiet for them to play with while waiting for their food (Manner Mats keep your kids entertained while teaching manners). I would be careful about just giving your kids your iPhone to play with because then I think they tune out too much. You want kids to be engaged in the conversation as well. I like playing games where each person at the table gets to ask a question and everyone takes turn answering it. It’s amazing what you can find out!

3. Remind kids what silverware to use with which course.
It is also a good time to review other basic dining etiquette such as elbows off the table, napkin and hand in lap, etc. For more dining etiquette tips, watch a quick video on “Teaching Kids Table Manners.”

4. Don’t pick things up
. If they drop something on the floor they should not ever go onto the floor to pick it up. If something like your napkin or fork drops just politely ask the waiter for a new one.

For more information on children’s etiquette, restaurant etiquette, and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog.

Aimee Symington is a modern cotillion instructor, etiquette expert, and creator of “Blunders” board game on manners. She has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.

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