Teaching young people to be good guests

It’s holiday time – a wonderful time of year. Family visits, shopping, creating memories, and traditions are in full swing.  

Traditions are important because they help us to appreciate things. If Covid has given us anything good, it has taught us to appreciate what we have. While we slowly return to a normal life, we have an opportunity to teach our children to be polite and to continue traditions. They will be the ones that pass them on, hopefully. It is essential that we start introducing good behavior practices early with our young people. 

Our children are the most incredible thing we have ever done, but they are not the most significant thing the world has ever done. Our job is to teach them how to exist and excel in the world outside our front door.  

Though it may seem a bit overwhelming, here is a way to make it more enjoyable. Think of this as a game. The rules are simple, and the end goal is to be invited back. Here are the rules for your children. Partner with another mom or dad or relative (if you like) and see how each other’s children behave in your homes.

The winners fall into three categories:

  • 3rd place: This person would be invited back!
  • 2nd place: This person would be invited on an extended visit like a movie, Cedar Point (a plus one) or a family vacation (plus one) as a person you would like to spend more time with.
  • 1st place: You’re giving them the spare bedroom in the hopes that they move in because they are so nice to be around.

The rules for the "Be a Good Guest" Game:

  1. Guests always introduce themselves to the owner, owners, renters, etc., of the home.
  2. If your invitation includes dinner or equivalent, an age-appropriate gift is suggested (flowers, candle, plant, etc.) for the host or hostess.
  3. Ask if you should remove your shoes and comply.
  4. Offer to hang up your coat. 
  5. Say please and thank you with eye contact.
  6. Compliment the meal or experience.
  7. Be courteous of other guests and answer questions with more than one word. Then ask questions and work on a conversation.
  8. Use good table manners (sit straight, napkin on lap, portion control).
  9. Offer to clear your dishes.
  10. Phone call, email, or thank you note in the mail one week from the experience.    

While some may be falling out of their chairs thinking kids don’t do these things today, you should know that some kids do, and these young people receive far more opportunities and advantages outside their front doors than inside their parents' homes.  

Let the games begin!

Colleen Harding

President of The Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol.   I am a member St Raphael Women's Guild, Friends of the Westside Catholic Center and The Avon Oaks Women's Golf Association.

I live in Bay Village with my husband and 3 children.   

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Volume 13, Issue 24, Posted 9:51 AM, 12.21.2021