Should Restaurants Offer Discounts for Children’s Good Behavior?

Daley and Alicia Welsh were celebrating Mother's Day at Carino Japanese Bistro in Calgary, Canada, when they got a big surprise — five bucks off their meal because their little girl was so well behaved. Toshi Carino, the restaurant's owner, told Yahoo Shine that he gave the couple the discount to thank one-year-old Evie (and her parents, of course) for not disturbing other diners. I bet every parent reading this wants to try this place out for their next fam dinner!  

In general, Carino says he welcomes children to his establishment — and I love and appreciate the sentiment, especially considering there are no-kid policies at restaurants these days. Do I think more places should follow Carino's lead? Dicey. 

My son and I eat out often. It's just the two of us, so sometimes it's easy to grab a meal, rather than cook something. Jack is 6, but he's been eating in nice restaurants, cafes, and diners since he was sleeping through meals in his stroller. 

I think this is part of the reason he behaves well when we're dining out—it's part of our lifestyle. Of course, when he was little, we'd take breaks for fresh air or stroll over to pretty fish tanks. Colouring sheets and crayons at Jersey diners are tried-and-true and I'd be lying if I said I didn't bring the iPad along to entertain him while we wait for our food. 

That said, of course I've dealt with patrons not enjoying my son's presence in restaurants. A few years ago we were grabbing a quick bite at a local diner called Park West. I remember the waitress handing Jack a colouring menu and crayons. He set to work and started signing.

An older couple did not like his rendition of twinkle-twinkle little star, even in his pip-squeak voice—and they told me so. I blogged about it and it garnered the attention of a local paper in Jersey that asked the question: How Should Kids Behave In Family Friendly Restaurants?

My humble opinion is that if you choose to dine at a place that hands out colouring sheets and crayons, or has a helium tank and free balloons, you should expect to hear children whether they are talking, laughing, crying, whining, or clanking their toys around. (Mumtastic writer Jennifer Benjamin shares my opinion.) If we don't take our kids out to eat they will never learn how to behave outside of our home kitchens.

On the flip side, if we dine at place with white table clothes and a wine list, I expect my son to tone down his behaviour and respect the other diners and ambiance of the place. 

If a place wants to offer a cash incentive for my kid's good behaviour, cool! But it doesn't sway me one way or the other. At the end of the day, my child's behaviour is a reflection of many things: my parenting, the time of day, his appetite, his health, and the overall atmosphere of the place. 

Chime in!