The holiday season is upon us, and you have a lot on your plate. You’ve decorated your home, you’re buying your gifts, and now it’s time for holiday parties. Kids on their worst behaviour at home is one thing, but to add misbehaving children to the entire spectacle of a holiday party—well that’s just a nightmare. Kids are kids, and meltdowns will happen, but we as parents can do our best to avoid them or help to diffuse the situation quickly so we can embrace the spirit of the holidays when celebrating with loved ones.
So, without further ado, here are our Social Stepmom tips to ensuring that your kids are well-behaved kids at holiday parties.
Social Stepmom Tip 1: Make your expectations clear.
Set yourself up for success by prepping your children for excellent behaviour at holiday parties BEFORE you get there. Before attending any event, let your children know what behaviour you expect from them. These expectations can be very broad or very specific to your child, anything from: I expect you to be kind to your cousins, share your toys, keep your hands to yourself, speak nicely to your brother, etc. Setting clear expectations consistently over time will allow your children to discipline themselves and readjust their behaviour if they get out of line. By giving your child expectations, they begin to expect that behaviour from themselves, and overtime will regulate themselves to behave in the way they have learned is expected.
If your child isn’t following your expectations, whip out the parent look - they will know exactly why they are receiving those eyes and will begin to change their behaviour.
If the behaviour isn’t changing, bring your child aside and GIVE THEM A BIG HUG AND KISS and ask them if there is anything wrong or if they need help. Remember that when your child is behaving badly it is not because they are looking to hurt or upset you, it is because they are struggling to express themselves in an appropriate way.
LISTEN AGAIN - Find out the root cause of their bad behaviour by asking why they are feeling that way, asking them how they think they made someone feel by not sharing and then asking what they will do to help them feel better.
AND THEN refresh them on your expectations voicing it with love - this might be a very necessary step if your child isn’t used to following set expectations.
AT THE PARTY
Social Stepmom Tip 2: You cannot compete with the chaos!
It’s important to remember that when you’re trying to get your child’s attention at a holiday event, it is absolutely impossible to compete with the chaos, noise, and distractions around them. You can break through that barrier by:
Step 1: Ask your child to stop what they are doing
Step 2: Lower yourself to their eye level
Step 3: Explain your request
Step 4: Ask if they understand
Step 5: Get them to repeat your request back to you to ensure that you were heard
Social Stepmom Tip 3: Make behaving a game!
We already know that kids love to play games so let’s do it their way and make our requests a game to keep them on their best behaviour! Have a picky eater? Let’s see who can eat the most of each type of food on their plate! Hard to focus while brother, sister, aunt, uncle, and the dog open their presents? Let’s see how long we can sit on our bums…the first one to stand up loses and the winner gets to eat a candy cane!
Social Stepmom Tip 4: Deliver your message through your body and not your words.
Develop visual cues to show them you see their good behaviour. Wink or smile. Then when you need to whip out the no no look and the party is loud, kids might be on one side of the room and you on another they will be encouraged to be behaved properly! Making eye contact with your child and using a simple thumbs up or thumbs down is a cue they will likely understand and shows you are happy and not happy with the way they are acting.
DO NOT RAISE YOUR VOICE! Raising your voice often is another example of negative behaviour that your child will learn and also is just embarrassing.
Social Stepmom Tip 5: Positive reinforcement after the party.
After a tough conversation, or really great behaviour, make sure you explain to your child that you are proud of them for a choice they made, for the way they helped clean, for their excellent manners, etc. There are always a few minutes in a party to step aside to make sure your child is recognized for good behaviour or conflict resolution skills because positive affirmation will encourage them to repeat that great behaviour!
Don’t sweat the small stuff stepmoms! Remember, meltdowns will happen but it is all about how we make those moments a learning experience to improve behaviour for the long run.