Parents quickly discover some of the most embarrassing events in life happen when they are in public with their young children. Suddenly, even the most well-behaved children turn into ill-disciplined monsters once in the midst of a public event. The situation is even worse when a child receives a gift that he or she finds less than satisfactory. While simply not letting a child open his or her birthday gifts in front of guests offers a solution, preparation can minimize the need for such a drastic step.
In the privacy of a home with outsiders absent, children have an opportunity to practice their social skills.
It is important for adults to recognize children are only beginning to acquire experiences needed to properly behave in a social setting. Being gracious is just one example of where children lack the necessary experiences to respond to a less than stellar gift. Usually, parents give a gift to a child, who may not like it, and accept an adverse outcome then expect the child to behave differently when the gift is from another. Instead, they need to use parental gift exchanges as a training exercise for social interaction.
Building on this concept, extended family functions also allow for a key opportunity to endow a child with necessary social skills. When a child receives a gift from a parent, sibling, grandparent, or extended relative, it is time to encourage or discourage the child’s reaction to the gift by verbally praising or correcting the child’s response. As children are only developing their cognitive abilities at the same time they need to use them, they may require a great deal of experiences to properly shape their behavior.
Unfortunately, unfamiliar situations can evoke totally unexpected responses from a child, especially in a public setting. Practice at a young age in front of the extended family may help solve this challenge despite how embarrassing it may be. Of course, children are going to act like children, so guests should expect these social missteps, yet not all adults will. The family setting, however, is generally a situation that allows for greater leniency. Graciousness is taught over time while it is not something parents want to have to teach in a public setting.
Children need to experience social events to learn how to act in similar settings later in life. Parents can minimize hurt feelings and embarrassment associated with adverse reactions to undesirable birthday gifts by training a child to be polite with practice. For children who are extremely bad sports when it comes to gifts, gifts should be open when no one is around, or not allowed in some cases. Then again, training the child to react in a more acceptable fashion must take place; otherwise, future, more serious social issues can develop.