I am a Christmas person but want to wish you all the best no matter how you celebrate the holiday.
On Tuesday (Dec.19) I posted a link to an article about helping kids to handle unwanted hugs and kisses from visiting friends and relatives. To see it, click here.. One strategy is to teach kids how to shake hands in lieu of receiving an unwelcome hug.
That article caused me to think about the bigger picture of manners and the holiday season. Suddenly, your kids’ manners are on display. Let’s talk about that.
“Serena, wait until everyone is served before you start eating.” Eight-year-old Serena looks at you as if you were speaking a foreign language.
You and your husband are at the dinner table with your parents, your sister and brother-in-law, your nieces and your kids, eight-year-old Serena and 11-year-old Eric. And as you watch your kids dig into their meals with no reference to the rest of the diners, you realize that they really do not have good table manners.
There’s nothing like big holiday dinners to point out the need to teach our kids how to handle themselves at the table.
Start today. How often does the whole family sit together at the table to eat? If you are in the habit of grabbing food on the run, eating in the car or eating separately it’s going to be a real challenge to prepare your kids for how to behave in a more formal dining situation. They cannot behave well if they are not taught and don’t have a chance to practice.
Think about what it is that you want them to learn. Then without making it a lecture, quietly help them change their dining habits to fit with your picture of good table manners. Teach slowly and patiently. They are not behaving badly on purpose; they just haven’t been shown what is expected. They will make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process.
When they eat with you at the table they will be able to see how you behave, Kids learn a lot by watching what adults do. This means you will need to mind your manners first.
Try to plan to have some time at the meal so you are not always rushed. Relax, chat with the kids, laugh and enjoy.
Holidays are a time when your children’s general behavior is on show. Table manners are not the only time when you will hope that that they are polite and considerate.
You will be welcoming guests into your home and your children should be part of this activity. Even the very young children need to learn how to say hello. If they are shy they can hold your hand while they do it, but greeting folks is important.
Good manners include a gracious acceptance of gifts. Teach them to receive all gifts as if they were special and wonderful, even if it’s something that’s wildly inappropriate. ‘It’s the thought that counts,’ sounds hokey, but it is true. They need to learn to thank people in person when they receive a gift. They learn this by watching you. How do you respond when you’re given a gift?
They also learn by being told. Practice with them before they attend any event where they are likely to receive gifts. Ask them: “What will you say to Aunty Hilda when she gives you a present?” Explain that it’s not whether they like the gift, but recognizing that their aunt cares enough to bring them something so they are thanking her for her consideration and love.
When gifts come by mail from friends and relatives I believe that an old-fashioned thank-you letter is important. I’d suggest that you schedule a time when all the members of the household write their letters. If you sit down with your children it’s a family event and easier for everyone. Don’t engage in any arguments, simply state that you expect them to write. Say something like, “It’s letter-writing time. I have a list of the people who sent gifts and what they sent, so let’s get to it.” If you really can’t face the idea of regular mail, at least have the kids send a timely email.
You can help them by suggesting things they might talk about. Out-of-town relatives are interested in all aspects of the kid’s life so talking about the school Christmas party or a planned skating outing with friends will be a hit.
Plan to take pictures of your daughter with the gift. It’s a real bonus to include them or if she received money she can tell them what she’s planning on buying.
Children who are too young to write can draw pictures. Have them draw a Christmas picture or one of them playing with the gift. Of course, the really small kids will offer multi-coloured squiggles and lines and I guarantee their art will take a place of honour on the fridge of the recipient.
Good manners are a gift that will help your children throughout their lives.
Bring Kathy to your Community
Do you want to hear more? Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website you can find more information on her material.
My presentations will share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I travel.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
I am told the books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.