Hello again! This topic has been on my mind quite a lot lately, partly because of the MANY kids we serve at The Robin; partly because there is a near-complete lack of children at Sips (naturally); and mostly because I have a super-outgoing six year old who has me cringing whenever we go out to eat. It’s true, I have been lagging in my duties to teach her proper restaurant etiquette. But this situation is soon to be remedied…
So, here I’ll be considering important aspects of serving other’s children. Part 2, in a few days, will be focused on the other side of the coin – helping our kids become order savvy. What can I say, it’s just going to take a little extra research.
Winning over those kids is a huge step in winning over the parents / guardians. Getting down to eye level and learning their name will not only help the little one warm up to you, it will impress the parents that you are there to take care of everybody’s needs. Parents want you to treat their kids special – positive attention – so suck it up; love those kids and treat them like they’re your own. And the real reward is when the parents are coming back regularly because little Johnny wants to see YOU!
Always, always, always ask before giving a gift to another’s child. Some might think “what’s the harm”, but truly it’s best to not assume. Never take the power out of the parent’s hands. Some parents teach their children to not accept gifts from strangers, and for the most part we are strangers. Some parents, for safety reasons, don’t want their little ones having stickers, crayons, or other small items. Just ask mom or dad first, preferably on the “down low”, and you should always be ok. I’ll never forget the first (and last) time I offered the free kid meal sundae (this was oh-so-many years ago) to a young boy instead of asking his father first. Oh, if looks could kill…and I couldn’t remedy the situation because it was too late! If I had only known / realized to ask dad first!
Never assume it’s ok to touch. Some kids are so adorable you just can’t help but pinch a cheek or twirl their hair – but resist! If the little one flatteringly reaches for you to pick her up – ASK! Again, never do anything that jeopardizes a parent’s full control over that child. And remember to wash your hands!
When parents allow their children to order for themselves, give that child your full attention and treat him as much like the adults as you can (this is obviously dependent on the child’s age). But, since little Johnny isn’t paying the bill, MAKE SURE that when you repeat the order back to your guests you make eye contact with the parents regarding the young one’s order. It is frustrating and inefficient to have a milkshake order come out that never should have been ordered, or extra appetizers, or whatever.
Never, ever show judgement or disdain to your guest no matter how much time they are taking trying to get their little angel to chose between american or cheddar cheese; lemonade or chocolate milk. Be patient, keep smiling, keep breathing, use the Sullivan Nod when taking the order to cut down on indecision. Sometimes it can get ridiculously frustrating, which is why i’ve decided this topic has to be seen from both sides of the coin.
My fellow servers, please let me hear from you! What other helpful tips do you have in regards to serving children? I’m always looking to improve in this area! Sound off!