Party Behavior: How to Help Your Child Become
a Little Lady or Gentleman
By Elizabeth Pantley
Situation: Every time I take my son to a party his behavior
embarrasses me. It's as if he leaves his manners at home! We've been
invited to several holiday parties, and I'd really love to go. How
can I get my son to behave at these events?
Think about it: Some kids get so caught up in the unusual
atmosphere of a party that they forget all they have been taught
Prepare: It's best to use "preventative" parenting
when possible. In other words, if you're invited to a party, spend
some time before you arrive at the event to review what behavior is
expected of your child. You might even make a list of party rules and
review them before leaving the house. While at the party, if his
behavior starts to slide, simply remind him of the rules.
Pretend: If you have a younger child, role-play a few parties
at home. Having a "pretend" party will allow you to
practice the manners your child will be expected to use. It helps to
exaggerate your manners so that they are very obvious to your child.
Privacy: Avoid correcting or reprimanding your child in front
of other guests. Take your child into a private room, such as a
bathroom, for a discussion. Keep your comments brief and to the
point. Don't just point out what he has done wrong, give specific
instructions about the behavior you want to see instead.
Pace: Sometimes, a child's elaborate expectations of a party
don't match up to the real event. Or sometimes the event is happening
so fast, or is so kaleidoscopic that your child is lost in the
scramble. The child may be disappointed or overwhelmed and covering
these feelings with misbehavior. It may be helpful to remove him from
the activity for a few minutes of quiet to help him regroup. Help him
focus on the good things that are happening. Give him a glass of
water and a hug and a kiss, and then hold his hand as you lead him
back to the party.
Elizabeth Pantleys new book is the wake-up call every
parent needs, a consciousness-raising journey through the small
moments of parenthood. Each chapter uses warmth, compassion, and
humor to gently tweak the consciences of even the best parents, and
inspire them to raise their children in a more sensitive manner.
-- William Sears, M.D. from the foreword
(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc.
from Hidden Messages What Our Words and Actions are Really
Telling Our Children by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2001)
About the Author
Parenting educator, Elizabeth Pantley, is the president of Better
Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company.
She is a regular radio show guest and often quoted as a parenting
expert in magazines such as Parents, Parenting, Working Mother,
Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping and Redbook.
She publishes a newsletter, Parent Tips, that is distributed in
schools nationwide, and is the author of Kid Cooperation: How to Stop
Yelling, Nagging and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate.
Other Articles By Elizabeth Pantley