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Teach Your Children To Be Good Guests

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Anonymous: There is an art to being a guest in someone's home. Yes, you are the guest, and you should be treated like one. But if you want to be asked back, don't make your host wish she'd never invited you in the first place. You'd be surprised how many adults don't grasp this (we've all had the houseguest from hell, I'm sure), and kids ... well, now's the time to teach them!

child sitting on a couch
I had to explain this etiquette to one young girl the other day, during a playdate she was having with my daughter, Estella. This kid wanted to do what she wanted to do. She wanted to have a certain plate and cup during snack time; she wanted the Barbie with the blonde hair, not the one with the brown ponytail and roller skates; and she insisted on wearing the pink princess dress and not the Tinkerbell outfit if any form of dress-up was to be played. 

When this kid wanted the bigger cookie, she said it "should" be hers. Because she was an annoying sh*t? Yes! But also because, according to her, she was the guest. Clearly, her parents had only shown her one side of the coin when it came to this: How you should treat one, not how to be one. 

I said that yes, she was indeed a guest, but that that meant being nice, helpful and taking what was offered, not demanding things and insisting on getting her way. In other words, you get what you get and don't get upset. That, along with some "pleases" and "thank yous," would have gotten her invited back anytime. Can you guess what she said? "You shouldn't talk that way to a guest!" 

Oh well. She may not know it now, but that's the last time she'll be demanding the bigger cookie at my house!

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103 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 19, 2010, 7:45 AM

She sound like a pretty young kid and I wouldn’t be mad at her or think she’s more than normally selfish. I remember a girl like that. The problem was when she had friends over her mother told her she had to do what they wanted and give them the best plate, etc. because they were the guest. She was just being a kid.

The girl who visited you probably thought your daughter was terribly selfish and hadn’t been taught proper manners about how to treat a guest!

Moopy November 19, 2010, 8:28 AM

I think if any child talked back to me like that my response would be, “I think it’s time for you to go home.” and send them packing…

Hollie November 19, 2010, 8:41 AM

I love this. A few of my daughters friends have pulled this and I was at loss as to what to say. I’ll be prepared next time.

Anonymous November 19, 2010, 9:39 AM

ugg some parents just don’t know how to teach manners. My step daughter had a friend come over one day and when it was time to clean up and for her to go home, she just sat and watched my step daughter clean even after me telling BOTH of them to clean up. She is never invited back, nor is my step daughter allowed at her house!

Kristin November 19, 2010, 10:14 AM

Moopy’s right. That would be the end of it right there.

Jen November 19, 2010, 12:01 PM

This is why people are such jerks when they go out to eat or go shopping, etc. When I worked at a restaurant, I always hated when a customer would treat me like a servant, like I’m less-than; sorry, it’s not going to get you what you want any faster. This feeling of entitlement is one of the biggest problems in our society, no respect or appreciation.

KS November 19, 2010, 5:31 PM

This is where I differ from most. I would invite her back but their play would be monitored and I would correct her behavior. If she were being rude and not sharing toys I would take the toys away and put them up.

If she was sassy she would go in time out just like any other child visiting my home. The rules and consequences are clearly discussed when any child visits my house for the first time and every time thereafter. If the parents don’t step in to discipline their children I do.

I will not have some sassy pants selfish child teaching mine that behavior is acceptable under any circumstances. If the parents of the child have a problem with my solutions then they have every right to keep their child at their house.

ss November 19, 2010, 6:38 PM

You make a very good point. It’s important to be a gracious and generous host but it’s also important to be a polite and grateful guest. It could be this little girl is just young and learning or it could be her parents have a sense of entitlement when they’re guests in other people’s homes and it’s rubbing off on her. Good for you for teaching her.

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