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The holidays are fast approaching which means visiting grandma’s or having guests in your own home. Rest assured you can toss the ancient rule “Children should be seen but not heard,” nor will you have to resort to banishing them to another room when visiting with company. Instead, involve your kids in the art of hospitality.
My kids used to act like monkeys in a banana truck each time we were guests in another’s home and believe me the antics were far worse in our own….think machine-gun-tooting–need I say more, really?
It wasn’t until I realized I hadn’t taught them how to act around company, nor did I realize my kids are routine and like to know what will happen in order to behave. So here are some tried and tweaked tips for you.
1. Let’s Chat
Starting sooner than later, sit down with your kids and ask them if they know what hospitality is. My son asked if it meant being in the hospital which I jumped on the analogy. In a way it is, hospitality means taking care of others needs and thinking of them first much in the same way hospitals take care of patients.
I explained no matter whether we are guests in someone else’s home or have guests in our own home, we want to ensure other friends and family’s needs are being met. Are they comfortable, is there something to drink, is there anything they need help with.
2. Draw it out & make a list
After asking these questions, my kids drew pictures of what it looks like to be hospitable towards others. My youngest drew a donkey carrying the beat up Samaritan she learned about from Sunday school while my son drew pictures of himself holding a friend’s coat.
3. Make a Chart & Challenge
Once they understood the concept, we came up with a list of ways they can be hospitable during dinner parties and holiday gatherings. We then created a chart of things they could help with and set a goal. If they could earn a certain amount of stars by each task, they would then be rewarded with a movie party where I showed them hospitality by serving the best treats and popcorn.
4. Model and Practice
Before the next big gathering, begin practicing at home during supper or dessert. Whenever possible, model hospitality, This is definitely not an area in which you can get them to do as you say and not as you do. He or she needs to have lots of practice in the fine art of social graces. Take time to engage in role-playing with your son or daughter. For instance, practice how to be courteous when waiting for everyone to be seated (do we ever sit down moms?), or asking if there is anything your child needs.
Even better, involve your spouse in modeling hospitality. My kids loved the role playing antics between my husband and I as we overly–and I do mean overly–helped each other during supper.
With these tips in mind, do what works for your family. If it means only focusing on one action of hospitality, great! Work at it and add more as your child’s character develops. Create rewards that are meaningful for your child and in no time, you will have a child whose character is strong in terms of hospitality and you won’t have to worry about whether or not your child will have a nuclear meltdown or act as if he’s been raised by wolves.
Now that I’ve shared my tips, I’m dying to know how you teach your kids to be hospitable!
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