During the Christmas season there are parties and celebrations galore. The one get-together that can cause the most stress is the one where the invitation reads: Children included.

How parents can actually enjoy that party? Mom and Dad, the key is to do your best to avoid surprises. That means being proactive in several areas. To the best of your ability, explain to you kids the specifics of the party. Will it be indoors? Outdoors? Will the kids eat at a separate table? How long will the party last? The more information you can share with your children the better.

Perhaps even more important, you need to be proactive in discussing your expectations for your kids’ behavior. Some ideas might be as simple… Use your best “please and thank you” manners. Wait your turn. No running inside. Use your “inside voice.” Follow my instructions and the instructions of other adults. Obviously these instructions will have to be tailored to apply to your family.

There is another proactive step you must take. Think about how you will handle the situation if your child fails to follow your instructions. First and foremost, do not cause a scene. Remove your child from the action as discreetly as possible to discuss the rule infraction. Reiterate the boundary you had set and let your child know the consequence if the boundary is crossed again. (i.e. Leaving for home immediately. Or sitting quietly by mom and dad.) As always, be prepared to follow through with what you have promised.

One more thought – Even though you may be separated from the children, you still need to keep an eye on them. Pay attention to what they’re doing, how they’re behaving, and what they’re eating.

Oh yes, and enjoy the party!!