Children and guests
Children need to know adults as well as children. They are fortunate if they grow up in a home to which their parents’ friends and neighbors come casually and frequently. A little child should be allowed to make friends with grownups in his own time and in his own way. He will get his friendly feeling toward them from his parents if they talk as if the family friends are his friends too.
Some parents have trouble with their youngsters when guests come. Looking ahead and planning for the child’s part in the entertaining makes him feel friendly toward the guests, rather than resentful of them. If mother is so busy cleaning the house and preparing the food for the guests that the little child feels in the way and pushed aside, he is not going to like the guests very well when they do arrive. If the child is very small it is best to have him tucked into bed before they arrive. But with the older pre-school child, who will hear guests arriving, it is usually best to plan ahead of time to let him greet them in his pajamas and bathrobe, then to give him some of the refreshments before he is expected to go to bed. Planning with him ahead of time as to just what will happen usually saves much unhappiness later. If the youngster is to be present during the party, he may be allowed to enter into the family plans by opening the door, showing the guests where to put their wraps, and passing the napkins, cookies, or ash trays.
If a child is restless and shows off when guests come in, it is usually because he feels that his parents are more interested in their friends than they are in him. He feels pushed out and tries to recapture attention by any means he can think of, from whining to clowning. Meet such a situation by drawing him into the group so that he feels part of it, or by planning beforehand to have a special crayoning book and crayons or other quiet toy for the child to play with while the grownups talk. The youngster can also be told ahead of time that if he gets tired of the grownups’ talk he may go over to Johnny’s to play. Just a little thought and planning can make such a difference to a child’s feelings when adults come to the home. (Continue below to page 7)