Getting out and going to a local restaurant is a treat that many families enjoy across the nation. However, when you have small children in tow, that can make this treat turn into a circus real quick.

How can you enjoy going out to eat while keeping your circus lions tamed? Here are a few simple ideas that might do the trick:

Practice Makes Perfect

We’ve all heard the saying that practice makes perfect, right? If not, the idea is that you can help perfect an action with a lot of practice. To help your wild toddler on an evening out, start by practicing table etiquette at home.

For example, try having them try eating dinner at the table instead of in a high chair, and work your way up to regular meals at restaurants.

Actively Teach Good Manners

There are very few things that are more embarrassing than taking a toddler out to eat and having them show poor manners, right? You might feel that people are judging your approach to parenting. You know that you’re a good parent, but your child just tries to prove it otherwise (or so it seems).

Teaching and enforcing good manners is key to getting good behavior out of your little ones in restaurants. Make sure to teach them to sit at the table with you, and try at least one bite of each part of their meal. If they don’t like what they are eating, don’t let them kick up a tantrum. Calmly teach them that even if they don’t want to eat it, they can still sit with you and talk and to ask politely for more of something they do.

Explain Your Expectations in Advance

Before you go out, make sure that you have a brief talk with your little ones. As clearly and simply as you can, explain what you expect of them. If you’re the type of parent that rewards good behavior, tell them of what they can earn for good behavior. That way, the child will be focused on what they want to earn and not be as disruptive.

Choose Family-Friendly Restaurants

If you’re planning on going to an expensive and formal restaurant, taking your small children is probably not a good idea. As much as you love these little ones, they tend to not have a volume button and will have lovable, yet chaotic, behavior. This might not sit well with other patrons at a fancy restaurant, but welcomed at a family establishment.

You can also tell if a restaurant is family-friendly with its menu and seating options. Look for kid-friendly items like burgers, corn dogs, etc.

Provide Breaks and Distractions

It’s hard for small kids to sit through a long wait for food on top of a long meal, so parents need to be pragmatic. If your child is getting antsy, walk outside, especially while you’re waiting for service, to give your child the break they need to make it through the meal.