People often wonder if it is appropriate to have children at weddings and funerals. Well behaved kids would probably be welcome anywhere, but how do you teach them to behave appropriately?

The late Queen Mother, when asked the most important thing to teach a child, replied, “Manners, my dear, because manners will get you through anything.” General good manners are a great start, but kids also need to learn how things are ‘done’ in formal situations.

Even small children can be coached to behave appropriately. The biggest key is to give ‘vibes’ that this time is solemn and serious. Before the event, let your children know what is going to happen, and why. More importantly, explain to them how people will be feeling, especially if it is a funeral. Sit near the front. This may seem contrary to your normal instincts, but it helps if your children can see what’s going on and stay interested. However, ensure you are also close to an exit – just in case.

At weddings, involve your child in some way if you can – perhaps they could present flowers to the bride outside the service, blow bubbles, or pass out the cake.

If you have young children, pack a bag with small toys, books, snacks in small containers or a new ‘quiet toy’ that you have bought for the occasion. Drums, squeaky toys, trumpets and Darth Vader light sabres may reduce the chances of you ever getting invited to another family event!

You won’t hear this from real parenting gurus, but bribes work! “If you can sit quietly I’ll give you a treat.” So can the gentle threat, “If you make any noise, the minister will have to start his talk again right from the beginning.” That would have shut me up!

Realise that sometimes you should just cut and run. They are the light of your life but are they annoying everyone else? A crying child can disturb an event a family has spent many hours planning in detail. In some situations, noisy children are like good intentions – they must be carried out.

John

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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