We teach children many values as they grow. Manners, discipline, behavioral lessons, and many more moral values through stories and experiences. In spite of all those lessons, sometimes, our kids behave strangely and differently when we travel to new places or when we meet a new person.
There could be many reasons for their change in behavior. Though it is not a life change or a big deal to be consulted with experts, this could be changed when parents observe the child closely. It’s the child’s way of telling them they are not comfortable with something.
Two decades before when we were small and young, we lived in big families or the then newly emerged nuclear families. We often meet our cousins during vacations, travel to our grandparent’s houses, and gathered as a whole family right from newborn to the oldest grandparent during festivals and celebrations. Though nuclear families were there, we had an opportunity to greet and meet often and were comfortable for all kinds of social gatherings.
Most of the present generation parents had cousins as friends when we meet them, we had a lot of naughtiness, fun talks, playtime with mud and water, small fights, and togetherness. I still remember the fun I had as a child with my cousins, forming a big circle while eating, sleeping in lines, and fighting for seats who’s next to whom.
In the present generation of wireless technology, we need not wait for holidays, mail them letters, or travel long hours. Traveling to our grandparents and cousins is replaced by family video calls. And our children have friends like cousins, have sleepovers in friends’ homes, playtime on Xbox, have parties, and potluck to meet and greet one another. The traditions and customs our parents followed and what we do now are nowhere related.
So having our children safe and confined in a home, we are in a situation to teach our kids the social skills which we had known with ease.
So, how can we make our children get comfortable when we have guests at home?
Talk to your kids about your guests before they arrive.
When we talk to kids about someone or something, they imagine them in their minds. Create this image of your guests in a positive way. Explain to them whom they are going to meet. So that they can be aware and looking at new people may not surprise them.
Discuss ways to welcome your guests.
Talk to the children about how you are planning to welcome them. Give them an idea of what age the guests will be. If there are children on your guest list, plan activities for them to play. Ask them for ideas to surprise the guests. Engaging them in activities will make them involved instead of being left alone.
Share your childhood memories of how you behaved with your new friends
Talk to your children about how they feel. If they are worried or shy away from meeting new people, make them comfortable. Tell stories to them about your childhood days. How you welcomed your guests or what you did do when they arrived?/
Get their ideas to prepare meals or snacks for guests. Don’t forget to add their favorites.
Make sure you ask their opinion on the meal list. Discussing the food menu keeps them feeling important. Ask them about the menu they like. Accept their suggestions and tell them how we plan the menu when welcoming guests.
Plan for game ideas with kids of guests
Ask for suggestions from kids, on how to engage the kids from the guest’s family. Prepare age-appropriate activities or games. Make sure to remind your kids, to have the children among the guests comfortable.
Give some ideas to keep them engaged like puzzles, coloring, hide and seek, dance floor, etc.
Engage them in setting up the table, and making their rooms.
Setting up the guest room or the dining table with your kids helps them in two things. First how to set them right and second, engaging them in these activities will keep them responsible. They can be little helpers to guests when they arrive. And knowing these during the guest’s arrival will help them to learn cleanliness and table manners. Arrange the toiletries ahead and make sure the bedroom is set to clean.
Tell about the guests and their good deeds and their relationship with you.
Children ask if they grow up meeting several kinds of people. As they grow they see both good and bad which can shape their nature and behavior. When you have a chance to talk about the good deeds of your guests or friends, share with them. It can be interesting to them or an experience for their life. Never ever talk about bad or hurting incidents. Sow the seed of love and kindness with the people around them at all times.
Talk about hospitality and kindness.
Parents love to see their children practicing kindness and discipline at all times. Sometimes kids get excited or irritated and scream or cry. Especially toddlers, they love to test us. Never try to teach them about kindness or respectfulness. Let them see us
and learn. Teaching moral values may fade when we face tough situations. Practicing them each and every day makes them a routine.
Delegate their roles to welcome and provide hospitality to guests.
When children are given responsibility they act smarter. Assign some age-appropriate roles to them. Ask them if they want to help the guests. And don’t forget to mention to your guests about the little helpers when they arrive. Never over-praise the kids before others. This can make them shy or become excited.
When kids are not comfortable in a new place, they either seek others’ attention or the anxiety in them makes them so excited.
Having them involved in the planning and arranging process helps them to be responsible for their actions. If it’s the first time you are planning for a friend or guest to visit, make sure to guide the child and never leave her alone or unattended.
Don’t forget to talk to your child after the visitor leaves the home. Appreciate the good work your child had done. And ask them about their feelings.
Communication is the best key to handling emotions, especially shaping children’s minds in a healthy way.