At this time of the year, there are many opportunities for connection. Social gatherings, family visits and celebratory meals mean that we get the chance to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones and share traditions with families.
Opportunity or recipe for disaster? Perhaps a bit of both…
Bringing children into social situations may feel daunting. Will they say or do something that rubs someone the wrong way? How will their behaviour reflect on us?
Awareness is the first step.
Do your kids know how you want them to behave?
And most importantly, do your kids really even need to be at the particular event? The two of us often attend events where children have been dragged along and are sitting in a corner playing on a phone for much of the time. After a couple of hours, even that gets boring and then the children tend to do what they can to get Mom and Dad’s attention until they finally end up going home.
Kids are always learning from us. That means that, as parents, we are always teaching.
We can decide which parties make sense for us to attend this year and which are better left for other revelers. We can decide when to leave the kids at home and when they should come. We can also decide what behaviour we want to see.
Let’s start with greetings.
Decide what is important to you and teach that to your kids. If you’ve got preschoolers, maybe just a wave hello. If older than that, eye contact, handshake and a hello? Once you know what to expect, talk to your kids about it. Ask them what words work for them. Are they leery of a certain person they know that they are going to meet? Help them to plan how to lead with a handshake rather than getting sucked into a hug. Practice can be very helpful here.
What about those devices?
Are they allowed to make an appearance? For younger children, it might make sense to leave the screens at home; for older, in the car or in a coat pocket. What if that’s what all the kids at the party are doing? Knowing how you will handle this ahead of time makes all the difference.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
Which parties do we really want/need to attend?
When will I be bringing the kids with me?
Do my kids know what kind of a behaviour I expect?
What is our family’s position around screens at a party? Do the kids know it? How will we follow through?
If you are curious about what strategies you can share with your kids, we are always here to answer your questions and give you real life parenting tools.