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12 Days of Christmas Preparations for Foster and Adoptive Parents

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12 Days of Christmas Preparations: Day 5 - Five Golden Rules
Children sit at a holiday table with adults. Remember to practice manners with kids before events.

Remember to practice simple manners with your foster children before gathering with friends and family during the holidays.

Photo © Carrie Craft, licensed to About.com, Inc.

On the fifth day of Christmas Preparations, my true love gave to me:
Five golden rules,
Four fighting kids,
Three snow days,
Two calling workers
and a well planned respite weekend.

Before heading out to holiday parties - make sure to review these five golden rules with your children. We are doing respite this weekend and that is one thing the foster mom made sure to remind us, "The kids do better when they are given a few rules before heading out to different activities." In other words, pre-teach. That is one of the best lessons I learned working at the local children's home.

1. Say Please: There are numerous opportunities during the holidays to remember and practice this basic rule. Remind your children to say please when making any request. "Please pass the green bean casserole." "Please hand me another cookie." "Can I go outside and build a snow man? Please?"

2. Thank You: Another great manner that may get forgotten in a blur of unwrapping presents. "Thank you." Don't forget to remind them to even say, "Thank you" for all gifts. Even the ugly sweater they received from Aunt Mae.

3. Appreciate the Gift and the Giver: This goes along with "Thank you." No matter how small the gift, or if you don't like a gift it is important to appreciate the thought. This may be difficult for younger children. Try to help them see that a gift means that person remembered them.

4. Basic Table Manners: This rule may be need to be reviewed and practiced with children days in advance of the big holiday gathering. Many children, especially those from the foster care system, will not know to chew with their mouths closed or to keep their elbows off the table. Practice and review these skills before sitting down to dinner on Christmas Day.

5.Any Other Rule that Pertains to Your Family: This spot I left open for you to customize. Only you know your family and their quirks. Does grandpa go nuts when kids run through the house? Then your 5th Golden rule will be to remind kids to not run. Does your sister have white carpet and asks guest to remove their shoes? Then make sure the kids wear clean socks and remind them to remove their shoes while visiting Aunt Jane.

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