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Feb 6, 2013 07:52 AM

Restaurant rewards well-behaved children

$4 and a bowl of ice cream seems a small price to pay (and the good PR will be worth much, much more).

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    1. there's nothing like positive reinforcement.
      I wish certain places would change their tagline of "kids eat free" to "well-behaved kids eat free"

      4 Replies
        1. re: hill food

          I love the idea. But, I'm also cynical enough to think that parents of kids who aren't well behaved also think their children are well behaved and that would cause a problem. Some parents get irate when it's suggested their children aren't perfect.

            1. re: chowser

              It occurred to me as well after posting. We've all suffered those parents.

          1. Great marketing!
            But yeah, basically the resto is doing the parents' job ("be good and you get a treat"). Hopefully the parents take the money saved and take the kiddos out for an ice cream.

            Now if BAD KIDS were fed to a dragon? That would be...awesome!

            4 Replies
            1. re: pedalfaster

              <But yeah, basically the resto is doing the parents' job ("be good and you get a treat"). >

              Not really, because neither the parents nor the kids knew that behavior X would result in treat Y. The kids were good even though no one promised them anything in return. Which is why I like this story so much.

              1. re: small h

                Exactly. There was no expectation - it was a nice surprise. And if the restaurant *had* promoted this as a marketing tool, the issue just might end up that the parents got mad if their kids weren't "chosen" as golden and angelic child(ren).

              2. re: pedalfaster

                Bwahaha! Fed to a dragon :D My bother used to be threatened with the possibility of Krampus coming to drag him off at Christmas. He was always on his best behavior in December.

                1. re: pedalfaster

                  Reminds me of the oft-seen sign: Unattended children will be given a Red Bull and a puppy.

                2. How many CHs remember restaurants with a Treasure Chest for well-behaved kiddies at the end of a meal? The promise of a reward was all it took for my brother and me to behave (that and a very stern father).

                  Wouldn't it be a lovely world where all the kiddies behaved while at table? They would grow into adults with the same behaviors ....................

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Sherri

                    You just rang a long un-rung bell in my head! It was at a restauraunt in Fresno, CA a hundred years ago. I loved that thing, although I don't remember it being tied to good behavior--my parents were such that any other kind was not an option (in a good way).

                    1. re: Sherri

                      Sherri... Your comment could not have been more timely. A large group of us, including four little one's were dining at North Woods Inn in Pasadena. At the end of the meal our waiter invited the kids over to choose a toy from the treasure chest for being so well-behaved.

                      I'd never seen such a thing, but was thinking what a wonderful idea!! Of course my kids will remember to be well-behaved next time with that kind of incentive.

                      1. re: Sherri

                        in the Midwest, I think the old Flaming Pit restaurants had those.

                        1. re: hill food

                          Flaming Pit, oh wow, what memories!

                      2. mixed feelings. i have a 4 yr old who sits thru a meal without digital help from an ipad/iphone. however, we do bring an activity book of his choice with crayons. we do include him in our conversations for the most part but he's 4 so we end up discussing cars and animals which can get limiting at times. we also make sure we go early before his witching hour (i don't care if you claim your child goes to sleep at 11pm. all kids under 6 seem to get cranky after 9) so that's like around 5pm but no later than 6pm. i'd hate to go there with my child and not get the discount. what's their criteria on what makes the "well behaved" kid? one who can sit thru the meal? a toddler who doesn't scream? hope it's basic.

                        i guess, my point is that i'm around many kids and their parents often and i'm finding that what's ok to some people is not ok behavior to others. i went out to lunch with a preschool mom and her child after pick up with my child. during the meal her kid slipped under the table and crouched down and played on the ground. i was not okay with that but she kept yapping on like nothing was happening. my son looked at me with this "uh-oh!" look which i thought was pretty funny.

                        what i don't get are the people who let their kids run around in the restaurant. i just don't get it! it makes me so angry!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: trolley

                          I have been guilty of the running around child, but only a couple of times. let me paint the pic for you:
                          1. Me and child are out with visiting friend and her 3 children and spouse. It is a chain and lunchtime in the bar so sparsely populated. They make the dreaded mistake of bringing the kids' food out FIRST and in 5 minutes, my son is done. He is very, very active, loud and squirmy and he was really hungry so he plowed through quickly and starts asking to get up. I am asking for to-go boxes and trying to stall him and realizing once again I get nothing to eat. He is making the meal very uncomfortable for the visiting families and other guests because he's acting like a monkey on crack now because I won't let him out. Yes, he was overtired and overhungry and it wasn't an ideal morning before we hit this place so bad combo, but I hoped it would go more smoothly. He starts dumping things and knocking things over and jostling our guests and I am frantically trying to pay the bill and box up food to-go so finally I get up and let him up. He didn't want to do anything but RUN, which is all he ever wants to do. He got up and ran around the bar. He didn't scream or upset anything or make any more noise, he was happy just to be able to NOT be forced to sit there one more minute. I felt bad for the few other diners in the bar area because I know how people hate the running around kid, and I couldn't wrangle him because I was dealing with the check and takeout, but it happened. So sue me.

                          2. We were out and an errand took much longer than planned, and child was very hungry and it would have taken a long time to get home. We went to a chain and were seated very near the back of the restaurant where the wheelchair ramp is, which is also where the to-go orders are picked up. It was lunchtime again, and nobody was even working the to-go register/area as there were no to-go orders coming in. He was IMPOSSIBLE at the table. Squirmy, increasingly loud/shouting and threw all the crayons on the floor and wouldn't leave crap alone on the table. I let him up and he ran up and down and up and down the ramp until the food came. He wasn't in anyone's way and there were no other diners around us. There were a few servers that came back to use the to-go register when other registers were busy but I seriously don't think he impacted their service. I felt bad, but what am I supposed to do in that situation? He needs to eat, we have to wait, and making him stay seated results in screaming. I was solo with him again.

                          Obviously dining out is a work in progress and when we PLAN it as a family, it goes much better as there are two of us and one takes the child outside if he is too active to wait, and they play outside until I call and say the food is ready. And we of course prep about being good or we will leave, and have gotten takeout as soon as the food arrives knowing it's not working this time, and we work and work on it. It is a PROCESS and it takes repeat visits for him to understand the proper way to behave in a restaurant, and some of those visits are fails.

                          You never know the circumstances. If it looks like the parent is ready to tear their hair out and is trying to handle the situation as best they can and with minimal disruption to everyone else by packing up quickly or letting the kid run up and down the ramp, consider cutting them some slack, would you? Both the incidents above were over a year ago and he is much better now than he was then.

                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            as a former waitperson in my former life running kids were not ideal bc it was dangerous and we wanted everyone to eat and be safe. I've only worked at one place that people brought kids. but i have bumped into running kids and luckily without food or drink in my hands. imagine tripping over your kid and spilling a hot curry on top of his or her head? or breaking glass on top of your child head? think about it. running kids are for outside and never in a place where busy workers are trying to get a bunch of food to a table full of people. it's hard to see below you with plates or a tray too. and as you said, kids who run tend to be squirmy also tend to be unpredictable.

                            in any case, i wasn't referring to the parent with the squirmy kid who starts running off while the parent is paying or trying to control the situation (you). sometimes sh*t happens bc it's just life. kids get squirmy and run off and it is what it is. babies and toddler scream for unknown reasons bc that's how they communicate at times. i do believe children belong in most restaurants as some people would argue differently. i feel like those people think kids don't belong in planes too. ok, maybe not places like Per Se or a 4 star michelin joint but it's ok to see and be around kids.

                            however, there a difference between you and those adults who i was referring to and perhaps i wasn't clear. i'm talking about the group of adults immersed in some intense conversation while their kids run amok and pretend the eatery is the playground. it's just not fair to the kids who deserve to be in a safe place to play or the other customers who are paying for a meal.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              While I understand rnr, I raised 4 chowpups myself, your resolve to stay in the restaurant and not do take out is where we have differing styles. My scenario was this: 2 oldish, 2 youngish-all active kids. Eventually, the old watched young so I could get a moment. If the chat got loud we asked to wrap up the food and went to a park, a playground, the beach, the back of the car or home to finish the meal. Couple of those trips and ordering take away until they were old enough to join dh & me together without issue or for a time we did 2 and 2 (dad took 2; I took 2) until family meals could be enjoyed...and enjoyed without intruding on anyone else. 4 kids, 4 differing personalities and food likes/dislikes. Things got better and dh & I became pros on how to best handle our bunch.

                              I feel for ya.

                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                In scenario number two, where the child is very hungry and errands took longer than expected, there are options. The most obvious would be to keep /bring snacks in your purse and/or car anticipating that sometimes errands do indeed take longer than expected. Saves you both from the stress of trying to deal with a restaurant when solo, he is hungry, you are tired etc.; saves the servers from the stress of having to deal with it (if nothing else, they may be stressed about worrying whether they will get complaints from others, and/or what will happen if a party comes in who does need to use the ramp), and it saves you from having to eat at a quite possibly mediocre chain. (I am assuming that if you didn't have time to get home to eat that you didn't have time to choose a restaurant with really good food either, so likely you went to the first place you found, right?). Indeed, as long as we are talking a chain place, why not ask if you can do take-out or find a drive through if the problem is truly that the child is too hungry to sit still for the time it takes to order a meal?

                                I agree that is a process and it took a while with my kids also, so I am not unsympathetic. However, I don't think that parents in these type of situations should think of themselves as being without options. A little planning goes along way, and to me that includes planning for the "unexpected". (Edited to put unexpected in quotes, because let's be real: it really isn't unexpected if the parent recognizes that it is a process: at least not after the first time it happens.)

                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                    <I let him up and he ran up and down>

                                    So, basically, you've rewarded him for bad behavior.

                                    <I felt bad, but what am I supposed to do in this situation?>

                                    Leave. Show him it's not okay.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      Dear rockandroller1, as one who would been felt victimized by your child *and* your "so sue me" attitude, I say leave the child home until he is old enough that you don't have to say "so sue me" in reaction to my reaction to your his behavior.

                                      It really is that simple.