Keeping Rules and Expectations Consistent when you have Guests

Note:  This week I will be re-posting an earlier blog.  I feel that the topics covered will especially help families during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Good Afternoon,

Today I will be talking about hosting guests at your house.  I remember when I was growing up…if we were bad under normal circumstances, we would get the “usual” punishment, but if we were bad when we had guests or were guests, the punishment was so much worse.  I knew the second my mom made “that face…” I was doomed.  I am laughing as I write this, just thinking about my parents and how mean I thought they were.  A little fun turned into a lot of trouble pretty quickly.

Below are some basics for preparing your kids to host guests, whether it be their friends, out-of-town family, or your boss.  The ideas here cover families with kids ranging from toddler to school age.  Use the ideas that best apply to your family.  While I understand that you have had guests in your home before now, a quick reminder is always nice on how to handle talking with your kids about hosting guests.  If you are struggling in this area, now is the perfect time to institute some of the below before the holidays.

Communication
Obviously you want to let your children know that you are having guests.  Start by telling them who is coming.  If it is someone they do not know, tell them how you know this person.  Talk to them about what it means to have guests.  This means talking about the expectations of their behavior, including how they act, where they play, and what they say.  If there are other kids coming remind them of the importance of sharing their toys.  Give them feedback throughout the evening about how they are doing.

Consistency
If you have followed this blog at all you should by now see a common theme: consistency.  Above all else, the rules should not change no matter what.  It ultimately does not matter who is at your house.  If your kids break the rules, follow through with the usual punishment.  Many parents, like mine, even increase the punishment when there are guests at the house.  Ultimately, you want for people to feel welcomed and safe in your home.  Keeping the same high expectations for behavior lets your children know that they cannot get away with unacceptable behavior when guests are over.  I have turned down a few invitations to homes where I know that the kids are wild and the parents do nothing about it.

Involvement
As always, get your kids involved in preparations for guests.  If you are hosting out-of-town guests have them help clean rooms, make beds, and prepare meals.  Kids love to show off their artwork.  To keep them busy while you get ready, have them create pictures and clay sculptures to show off or give to your guests.

Guests come to your house to see you and your family.  Make it easy for them during their visit by keeping routines and rules consistent.  Talk with your kids before, during, and after, and give them feedback on how they did.  Throw in special treats if they met or exceeded your expectations.  Always involve them from start to finish.  If they know the plan and how they fit in, they will have a great chance to live up to your expectations.

I am certain that all of you reading this will either have guests or be a guest this holiday season.  Have fun!

If you found this blog helpful please subscribe/like/re-tweet/share it.  I have also added lots of good pins to my Pinterest boards, so check them out too.

Good Luck,

Katherine

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Ways to Foster Honesty through Conversation

Listen to your kids

Listen to your kids (Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi)

Good Afternoon and Happy Halloween,

So many newsworthy events have been happening lately.  The East Coast weather is on everyone’s mind, the elections are in their final days, and the holidays are just around the corner.  These three things don’t usually have much in common, but as I started thinking about this week’s post all three came to mind for the same reason: talking to your kids honestly.  There are numerous situations where you just wish your kids would stop asking questions, or you hope that they don’t notice something, or you thought they had forgotten about a certain topic.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.  Today I would like to offer strategies that help you talk to your kids in a comfortable way when you are in an uncomfortable situation.

Communication During a Crisis

The goal of communication during a crisis situation is get the most information out with the least amount of effort.  There are dozens of different types of crisis situations.  You may have time to prepare and plan, or you may have to act at a moment’s notice.  Being mentally prepared can help in all crisis situations.

  • Talk in an assertive but non-threatening way using the simplest words possible.
  • Keep your voice at the lowest volume possible when giving directions.
  • Give directions in short clips instead of a long train.
  • Give information about the situation that is honest and to the point.
  • Allow your kids to tell you their feelings and ask questions, if there is time.
  • Identify with their emotions in yourself, “I am also feeling scared.”
  • Give them honest reassurance.
  • Model behavior that shows leadership and logic

Communication about Adult Matters

Kids are smart and curious.  They want to know about the goings-on in their parents lives.  Over the past several months there has been lots of conversations about the elections, the economy, women’s rights, finances, health care, etc.  Kids are barraged with ads on TV, mail at the house, conversations they overhear, and billboards all over town.  It is not surprising to me that they are interested and curious to know more about these topics.

  • Decide what information is appropriate for your child to know.
  • Allow them to ask questions in an environment that is non-judgmental and honest.
  • Allow them to have opinions that differ from yours.
  • Ask them follow up questions to further the conversation.
  • Talk about adult topics in simple ways.
  • Relate information back to their personal experiences like earning an allowance, being sick and seeking medical care, incentives that are important to them, etc.
  • Talk to them about what it means to be president and how our country is different from other countries in this way.
  • Encourage conversations about character and what it means to be a leader.
  • Practice the, “no thanks,” conversation to have with phone and door-to-door solicitors.

Communication around the Holidays

Holiday time is usually very stressful.  Tension and anxiety are high, positive communication breaks down and behavior tends to follow.  Lots of families have had a tough year financially.  Hosting guests for the holidays and the spirit of giving can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Having a plan in place to talk to your kids about these things now can save you time and frustration later.

  • Talk to them about budgets and money.
  • Reinforce behavior with conversations and reminders of expectations.
  • Practice conversation starters to use with guests as well as follow-up questions.
  • Practice honest ways to show appreciation towards others, especially in uncomfortable situations.
  • If you give to charities, talk to your kids about why you choose that charity and why it is important to give to others.
  • Start conversations about family traditions, what they mean, and how they got started.

Building a relationship with your kids that is both open and honest is a huge job.  What it boils down to is showing what honesty looks like through your actions towards them and others.  Kids are going to ask lots of questions either way, having those questions directed towards you is the goal.

I would love to hear from you! 

  1. How do you teach your kids about honesty?
  2. What are some situations where you felt you did or did not handle the conversation correctly?
  3. How do you mentally prepare for uncomfortable conversations?

Also, I have started an account on Pinterest just for my readers.  I invite you to check it out and follow me as I add helpful pins for all areas of parenting.

Good Luck,

Katherine