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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 about manners.


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 Pantley’s 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

Cornucopia Kids Gifts-Responding Politely Party Behavior


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