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3yr olds
May 2, 2007
9:15 am
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robbie2007
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I would like to know realistically what to expect from a 3 yr. old at a restaurant.

I know it is not much, but can they be expected to not go under the table?

Should they be allowed to take whatever is at arms reach ...sugar, ketchup, utensils, straws etc....

Can 3 yr olds sit for any length of time?

Should grandparents be able to discipline the child?

May 2, 2007
11:03 am
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Randomwomen2
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I have a 3 and a 4 year old. For going out to eat patience is the key. It really depends on how they were raised. My boys know how to behave for the most part in a restaurant. There is no set answer it all just depends on the child's temperament and what has been expected out of him/her in a restaurant previously.

May 2, 2007
11:10 am
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soprano2
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I also have a three and a four year old, Randomwomen2. How funny.

I agree. It is all in how they are being raised. I took the time to teach them what was expected through playing pretend at home before we went out to a restaurant (that is bigger quality than McDonalds). So when the time came, they knew what was expected of them.

I also made sure that I was setting them up for success. A three year old can be very successful and happy in a restaurant one day and absolutely crazy the next. You never know. If my kids are tired, I choose not to go out. If they are crabby, I will also just go home. I have had to cancel some plans with friends and family, but in the long run it is better for them to be set up for success rather than failure (dragging them out when it is going to be a constant battle from start to finish).

As far as grandparents are concerned? I believe that the parents can allow grandparents into the discipline process, but the communication needs to be done with all parties. I have seen situations where kids in general act horribly for their parents, but because their grandparents set boundaries and stuck with them, they act just fine. It would definitely need to be a decision between the parents and grandparents.

May 2, 2007
11:10 am
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At the age of three a child knows they have to listen and behave I think if your going to be anywhere like that for a period of time always take coloring book or something quite to keep them busy.That helps

May 2, 2007
11:12 am
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I have a 4 year old and 6 year old that I have been taking out since they were babies. For the most part they sit quietly and are good. I would never tolerate them under the table or walking around. They sometimes play with the creamers by staking them. I don't let them clang silverware. The trick is to be pro-active. I bring paper and pen. I bring little toys that they can pretend with. I also interact with them to keep them occupied. Another trick is to order bread or something for them immediately upon sitting down so they have something to eat before the real food comes.

As for other people disciplining your child - that's up to you. My mother has done that with my children. Sometimes a stern word from an "outsider" makes more of an impact than one from a frazzled mom.

Just remember kids will be kids and you can't expect them to be perfect everytime. Its also why they make resturaunts like McDonalds - where you can relax knowing that other people's children are far worse than yours! lol

May 2, 2007
11:27 am
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robbie2007
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well heres the situation...

I am the aunt, and we went out to TGIFridays for my sisters birthday.

Because of a situation, my mother (the childs grandmother) takes care of him a lot.

When we were growing up, we knew how to behave and all that was needed was a look and we knew we needed to knock it off.

I do not tolerate small children very well...everyone in my family knows that but I do try.

the child was up and down...dropping things on the floor so he could go under the table and get them. picks up a dirty straw from under the table sticks it in grandmas drink who didnt even know it was dirty. he didnt eat any food. opened up all the wet naps and used them all. got him ice cream and rubbed the drips into the seat and table. standing up going under the window shade. and NOBODY says a thing to him. except my father who asks if i would want to take him for 2 days...which i respond NO which brings my sister to tears. one time, i mentioned how my father would never let us get away with stuff like this - and she said, "C" is not his child. and if he DID discipline him, there would be a big conflict between him and the childs parents. the only the that ever happens is that he is told if he doesnt behave, he wont go to grammas house, but he always does.

soooooo - knowing i am not tolerant of small children - i didnt know if it was "just me" - or if this child could behave a little better.

May 2, 2007
12:01 pm
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Wow, Robbie, it does sound like he was acting pretty wild and no one was dealing with it.

I guess if your sister came to tears over a comment from you like that, she is probably not coping very well herself. And your parents feel like they have their hands tied and cannot discipline him as they would like because of conflict with....who? The boy's step-father? Not sure I understood that. Sounds like people are afraid to say no to him. Maybe he throws some pretty good fits when he isn't allowed to do whatever he wants?

I guess the only thing you can do is try to relate to the little guy as best you can. Set your own boundaries (No you can't smear ME with ice cream and I've really got to eat and run Happy Birthday) and be sympathetic towards his caretakers. Don't invite him to your house till he's outgrown this malevolency. Try to just LOVE your nephew and not judge and criticize. Unless he is in your caretaking charge, that's really your only right.

I also don't think going up and down under the table is out of character for a 3 yr old, especially if he's tired, eaten too many sweets or soda, been sitting in a stroller or high chair too long. BUT, it shouldn't be the norm.

Maybe the goal, at that point, was to just keep him "contained" in the booth or table area rather than have him running all over the restaurant. It's too bad no one tried to involve him in some drawing or coloring, or actually took him off for a short walk while waiting. You weren't the only one who was "tolerating" him....it'd be nice if someone genuinely liked him and didn't pretend the stuff he's doing is CUTE.

My neighbor's kid, who was NEVER disciplined, once grabbed a bottom-row can out of the grocery store's "pyramid" display and nearly killed himself!!

May 2, 2007
12:01 pm
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Wow, Robbie, it does sound like he was acting pretty wild and no one was dealing with it.

I guess if your sister came to tears over a comment from you like that, she is probably not coping very well herself. And your parents feel like they have their hands tied and cannot discipline him as they would like because of conflict with....who? The boy's step-father? Not sure I understood that. Sounds like people are afraid to say no to him. Maybe he throws some pretty good fits when he isn't allowed to do whatever he wants?

I guess the only thing you can do is try to relate to the little guy as best you can. Set your own boundaries (No you can't smear ME with ice cream and I've really got to eat and run Happy Birthday) and be sympathetic towards his caretakers. Don't invite him to your house till he's outgrown this malevolency. Try to just LOVE your nephew and not judge and criticize. Unless he is in your caretaking charge, that's really your only right.

I also don't think going up and down under the table is out of character for a 3 yr old, especially if he's tired, eaten too many sweets or soda, been sitting in a stroller or high chair too long. BUT, it shouldn't be the norm.

Maybe the goal, at that point, was to just keep him "contained" in the booth or table area rather than have him running all over the restaurant. It's too bad no one tried to involve him in some drawing or coloring, or actually took him off for a short walk while waiting. You weren't the only one who was "tolerating" him....it'd be nice if someone genuinely liked him and didn't pretend the stuff he's doing is CUTE.

My neighbor's kid, who was NEVER disciplined, once grabbed a bottom-row can out of the grocery store's "pyramid" display and nearly killed himself!!

May 2, 2007
12:17 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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I think it all depends on the kid.

I brought my daughter EVERYWHERE...so she was used to behaving in public.

HOWEVER, I was always prepared...I brought toys to entertain her, snacks she could eat, drinks in her own cup, etc. I also knew when it was time to go.

Did she act up? Sometimes...and I did the best I could to handle it. Sometimes I left a restaurant, to sit in the car while everyone else finished because she was too much to control.

Did she play with table stuff? Sure, if I didn't have other toys. Did she destroy things? Not usually. Did she make messes? Sometimes, especially when she was learning to eat herself...but I always tried to pick up after her, and left a big tip for the waitress who had to clean up if I couldn't.

Did she bounce around alot? Sometimes...but most of THOSE times she was bored and you can't expect a three year old to sit still for extended periods of time. And if this was a birthday dinner, I suspect this dinner took a little more time than a quick meal out.

Discipline...if mom is there, then mom should be the discipline person. If the child is in harm's way or doing something that needs immediate attention and mom isn't able to intervene...the next available adult should intervene. However, I don't think it's the grandparent's job to take care of discipline if mom is right there.

Instead of a resounding "no" to dad's request...perhaps the better answer would have been "I'm not really capable of taking care of a little one right now"...that shows that it's not the child that you are rejecting but that you don't want to take care of ANY child. My guess is that mom took it personally and felt you were rejecting her child...and that it was a reflection of her.

In any case...when you bring a child to an adult function, there has to be alot of planning and alot of understanding.

Now, mind you, my best friend has a child of my daughter's age, who had never ventured outside of his own little community...and had HORRIBLE restaurant manners, HORRIBLE public manners and it was embarrassing to go places with them. I took them to Boston once and to a fancy hotel, and the kid was running all hog wild, playing on the escalators, wanting to ride the elevators...and at the buffet breakfast, he was making a mess, causing commotion and wiggling all over the place.

Yet, my daughter took it all in stride....it wasn't the first time she had seen an escalator, a big mall, a museum or a restaurant.

So, there are alot of factors to consider.

Another case in point...I have a customer who has two kids...brings a whole diaper bag of toys, snacks, wipes, drinks, etc....another customer comes in with two kids and nothing else and her kids are asking me for crayons, food, drinks, etc...(which I do keep for just such situations). Every mom is different.

May 2, 2007
12:43 pm
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on my way
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This reminds me of the time that my mother took my 2 1/2 yr old son out for breakfast, and he dumped yogurt on his head and also climbed under the table. But he only did it once. I think he took advantage of the situation, 'grandma', as he would never do that with me or his dad present. He is currently 25 yrs old.

Can grandparents discipline the child? I think that is tricky. It helps if they believe the same way that you do. Can they spank a child, I would say absolutely not. I think they can offer gently hints to the parent. But to be honest if I were out with my son and his family and if my grand-daughter was so undisciplined that it ruined my dinner, then I would say something to my granddaughter if the parent was not making her stop.

Some 3 yr olds are more precocious than others, and some have a shorter attention span. It may help to bring some of their own toys with them, crayons, paper, etc. to keep them occupied. And at 3 yrs...is the age where they truly think they are invincible and they do most of the separation from you. My youngest son was so independent at 3 yrs. old. He stuffed his toys in an old briefcase his dad gave him and snuck outside and went door to door trying to sell them...an entrepeneur at three. I thought he was taking a nap! I freaked and when I went to look for him I couldn't find him. When I did 1/2 hour later he was filthy....as everytime he saw me driving around the block looking for him, he climbed under a car to hide from me! And when we talked about it, luckily he understood not to do that again and didn't, until he was 4 and took off to sell Christmas candles to the neighbors in July. But kept an eye on him this time. He came back with $7.00!

I always said though, the terrible two's are NOTHING compared to the horrific three's!!

Good luck to you, ths too shall pass!

May 2, 2007
12:46 pm
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on my way
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sorry robbie, i just read that you are the aunt.

May 11, 2007
1:36 pm
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robbie2007
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was just informed we are going out to dinner for mothers day. i'm going to take some advice and bring some things for the child to do, even tho he is not my child.

now, i dont have children, besides coloring - what else can i bring for him to do?

May 11, 2007
1:49 pm
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readyforachange
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small books are nice, and maybe some "action figures" from his favorite show or movie. My kids always loved playing with Ninja Turtles, or Batman, or Spiderman figures. A new one was always a big treat. Some snacks like animal crakers or Cheerios or raisins, because the food in a restaurant doesn't always appeal to little ones, and never comes fast enough for them. Good luck!

May 11, 2007
1:55 pm
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robbie2007
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im going to go to toys r us i think... get him something new 🙂

thanks for the food idea too, didnt think of that.

May 11, 2007
2:02 pm
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risingfromtheashes
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chubby crayons are best for that age level and plain paper.

matchbox cars...plastic toy figures...even small building blocks.

I would even say a small container of playdough or moon sand would be fun...but could be messy depending.

also, big beads and some shoelaces to make a necklace...most kids like doing that sort of thing.

how about books, does he like books? cardboard picture books are best for that age.

and also, just know that he may need to get up and walk around if it is a long time to sit...so maybe taking him for a walk in the lobby or out in the parking lot may help....maybe pick some dandelions or something.

May 13, 2007
6:23 pm
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robbie, how was dinner?

May 14, 2007
9:02 am
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robbie2007
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hi brynnie, thanks for asking.

i had the best day ive had in a long time and yes, the dinner went well. i brought a bag of "bugs" 2 little cars and a card game. went for a little walk and even picked dandelions as suggested. even my father commented on the way home how good the child was. i chuckled and said "your welcome."

the only problem is that i was the only one doing anything. and seeing that he is not my child, i hope i am not going to be the entertainment each time we go to dinner together.

the other thing is that i think the mom was a little upset that i kept bringing out toys. i would give him something and let him play with it for awhile. if he was being good, after a period of time i would give him something else. after awhile she told me "NO MORE." i didnt understand why.

May 14, 2007
9:41 am
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The reason is because three year olds don't understand that it was a special occasion, and the three year old will think that she will get new toys like that every time she goes out, or every time she sees you.

However, if you do go out again, I would keep the same toys that you have.

A good rule of thumb for three year olds with toys is put about half of the toys they own away in a box. Then once a month rotate the toys--the kid will think that they are all new and will be interested in playing with them again.

Glad that it worked. I had not seen this thread over the weekend. I have a special bag of stuff that I take with similar things in it.

You got some great advice.

May 14, 2007
9:44 am
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robbie2007
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well since the child is not mine, i have no toys and i gave to him what i got for him.

i thought by giving a few at a time (were talking a package of 10 fake bugs) it would keep him occupied the entire time.

May 14, 2007
9:49 am
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robbie2007
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and i think he would had had a fit if i gave him toys then took them away (for next time).

May 14, 2007
10:47 am
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risingfromtheashes
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I think you did the right thing.

and rotating the toys was a smart thing, as it kept him occupied and prevented boredom.

good for you.

as far as giving new toys each time...perhaps you can allow him to take ONE bug home, or two (one for each hand)...this teaches him to make choices in life...as well as he knows you will bring it next time.

this will make him look forward to seeing you again, knowing auntie has bugs in her pocket!!!

I don't think anyone will notice that he's behaving...the only thing I can say is "how badly do you want to enjoy your dinner out?". perhaps skip a family meal and maybe they will see that without auntie there, junior doesn't behave so well...and learn to appreciate what you do.

as I have said before, you can't change other's behaviours...just make thee best you can out of a bad situation.

and know that junior will only be a toddler for a little while and before long, you will be telling him to put the gameboy or other game system down and join the family in conversation.

as they get older, they do get easier...so, don't worry that you will ALWAYS have to entertain.

tho, for me...I find more satisfaction in enjoying the kids...they are so innocent and pure and such fun....and adults are so mentally draining sometimes.

May 14, 2007
10:49 am
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I think that you did very well in the situation. Seems like you are a wonderful aunt. Hope you weren't offended, that was not my intention.

May 17, 2007
3:23 pm
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Cool, Robbie. You did all the neat things that a "fresh" personality in his life could possibly do.

But I think I made a similar mistake in trying to be so careful in being considerate of my son's gf's little children. I just had a little book, or a toy from McDonald's, and would always have some little thing to give them each visit. Then I showed up once without something for ONE of them and she was sooooo unhappy. I realized they had come to expect something from me every time.

Whoops.

What is interesting to me is that his parents and grandparents don't seem to want to take the responsibility of making him behave. It's not that hard to outwit a 3 yr old with a little creativity. They seem to just be "choosing" helplessness.

Maybe like when you're in an office and you're just trying to be helpful so you make the coffee....and then suddenly it's your JOB....because no one wants to do it, and will gladly shirk their own responsibility in the matter.

Yes, you should be cautious...why the mom said No More could have been the cost of getting him that many new things and her not wanting him showered with so much, or her looking bad because you were so good, or facing his tantrums the next time she says No he can't have something.....maybe she felt like you were trying to "show her up" as a disciplinarian. Sometimes it doesn't matter how good your intentions are -- it's still going to come out as how you were "perceived".

Your father noticed -- next time maybe you could create the "bag of tricks" and then give it to HIM and suggest that it's HIS turn to entertain the kid!!!

Oooo and one more thought -- I think it is the "attention" that he got from you more than the toys. Everyone tends to want to ignore an annoying little one, who then clammers for MORE. It seems like if they are getting enough attention, those behaviors tend to disappear, and people enjoy them, not just tolerate them.

I hope all your efforts will turn some heads in the family, and help make the little guy more pleasant to be around!!!

May 20, 2007
10:52 am
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I agree with Brynnie. sounds like he was asking for attention. You know the grown ups were engrossed in their conversation. Ilike the idea of bringing the bag of tricks and handing them to another adult. for part of the meal. Or maybe you could suggest leaving the kid with a babysitter 🙂

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