Why do children take over a whole new uncontrollable act when guests come over? There must be plenty of instances in your mind, where you were saying silent prayers that our children should ‘behave’ themselves in front of your guest! It is not a very big matter, yet it is a small reflection of a big matter. Perhaps if we addressed that, we would have dealt with some real concerns about how well we are bringing up our children. We can explore and understand with some questions:
Are you controlling too much?
The best time for children to get back at their parents for tightening the controls too much is when the parents are vulnerable themselves! That is when guests are around. Parents naturally focus on ‘when’ the incident takes place, and try to deal with that. Whereas, they must think deeper – on ‘why’. Check your behavior with your children. Is there something you are being unnecessarily strict about? You can solve it through dialogue, and relieve yourself of the anxiety around guests and visitors. It will free you from the fear of being ‘exposed’ and you will enjoy the company of your children around your guests.
Does your child have some need which you have not addressed?
Why children want to get back at us is because they are feeling suppressed and resentful about something they are receiving or not receiving from us. It could be just about anything – for example, when children are not allowed to express themselves, their need for expression will not go away. It will find a more convenient time and environment to take over. They shall be ever searching for a patient ear, and who could be better than a polite, willing and captive audience like a guest!
When your child behaves unreasonably in front of a guest, there is something more he is expressing. Try to get to that. Either you have not been patient with them, or listened to them. Or it could be, you totally forgot them while putting together the evening where you have invited your guest. Children, when they feel left out, will want to get your time and attention.
Can you include your child into being a host?
This is age old wisdom, that when you entrust responsibility to your children, they will do their best to live up to the honour. Give children clear duties to perform when the guests are around.
Simple things like:
- answering the door bell
- offering them a seat
- offering water, tissue, towel etc
- adjusting the fan, window, temperature of the air-conditioner/room heater according to the guests comfort
- asking if the volume of music or television that is playing in the background is okay
- generally enquiring if there is something they need
- be available to clean any spillage
- offer to dispose wrappers etc. instead of the guest having to do it
- assist in laying the table
- provide additional cutlery when needed
- discretely put back things in its place if it is coming in the way of the guest
In spite of your best efforts, when a situation does arise where your child is behaving unreasonably, give it attention first. Children can’t wait. Everyone understands that, and you have no reason to feel embarrassed. Attend to them instead of ignoring them or giving ‘nasty’ stares.
It would be incomplete without adding a little about teaching your child to receive the guest.
We have been teaching our children to say ‘Hello’, ‘Namaste’, ‘Good morning’, ‘Good evening’ etc. We must, now, teach how to greet. To greet is to feel a genuine happiness when someone arrives, and to be with him and bring him in. Inside your heart as much as your house. You must feel grateful to someone for choosing to visit you, for willing to spend their precious time with you. Teach that to your child. And if that foundation was laid well, then an occasional little racket from your child is bearable for your guest too. It puts you at ease, as you are with the guest as though they were one with the family.
Wishing you joy and fulfillment!