The holidays are a wonder-filled time of
the year wherein friends and family exchange gifts and visits.
Because children with learning differences often have difficulty
making transitions, they are often anxious about visiting other's
homes, and also may have difficulty playing the role of "host"
to holiday visitors.
This article is designed to assist mom as
she prepares the child for the holiday festivities. Discuss these
important social obligations and expectations with him prior
to the visits and provide quick "refresher course"
hours before the visit begins. By preparing the child and
being pro-active, you are less likely to be required to react
Ensure that your child is a welcomed
In order to be a welcome guest, the child
should follow these Do's and Don'ts:
- Be punctual
Arrive on time. If you are unavoidably late, call and explain.
If you arrive early, don't go to the host's home until the prescribed
time. Take a walk.
- Dress appropriately
Whenever we dress, we should consider the following things:
- Your child's apparel for a holiday toboggan
party should be very different than if he were attending a pre-Nutcracker
reception at Grandma's. Help him to decide what to wear and guide
him in this decision.
- Help the host
Offer to assist in some way or just join in if folks are moving
chairs, setting the table, etc. A guest can also assist
a host by circulating and "getting the party moving."
Circulate! Hosts always appreciate this.
- Don't make yourself at home
Ask permission before using the phone, TV, computer, etc.
- No snooping
Reinforce the fact that it is not appropriate to look
in drawers or cabinets. Also review some appropriate (and
inappropriate) questions that the child might ask.
- Enjoy the food
But remind him that the food is for everyone. Tell him
that it is inappropriate to "hang around" the food
table. Get your food -- then move away.
- Leave the function when others leave
Avoid being the first or last guest to depart. Always thank
the host -- even if it is a relative.
Ensure that your child is a gracious
Holiday time also requires kids to welcome
friends and family into their home. You will want to review
the following points with your child.
- Always ask permission from mom or dad
before inviting a guest.
- As the host it is the child's job to
introduce the family.
Review the socially acceptable methods of introduction ("Mom,
this is my friend, Danny. He is in my gym class and he
lives near the fire station.").
- The host should explain the "house
rules" to the guest.
Each family has its own culture (e.g., "Nobody is allowed
in Dad's workshop" or "Don't feed candy to the dog"
or "No food in the living room"). The host should politely
explain these rules. Again, this proactive strategy may
prevent significant problems.
- The host should assist with the extra
work that accompanies a visit.
The child should be extra helpful at mealtime, etc., when hosting
- It's the host's job -- not mom's or
dad's job -- to entertain the guest.
The child should find things to do and should pre-plan the activities.
Enjoy the holidays! Shower the people you
love with love and during this special, much needed season, let's
all remember the words of George Harrison... "And in the
end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
God bless us everyone.
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© Richard Lavoie