Your child's birthday party is coming up, but do you really have to invite the whole class to the party?
My son started school this year and the party invitations have been appearing quick and fast. Some invites are from well-known friends, while most are from kids I have never even heard my son mention. The other day he received 2 invitations on the same day, I watched him toss them in his bag un-opened. Then later on that night as I was unpacking his lunch bag. I noticed the invites still in his bag unopened, I asked about the invites and if he wanted to go to any of these parties. He paused for a moment and said 'nah'. Getting invited and going to a party was so exciting for my son. I remember the excitement of receiving an invite and the daily question 'is it the party today'. By inviting the entire class to the party are we giving our kids too much of a good thing?
There are many schools these days that strongly encourage that students invite the entire class to the party. But expecting parents to host the whole class which can include up to 20-30 students can be a big ask. No child likes being left out, but learning how to deal with disappointment and rejection is a normal part of life. Parents can use parties as opportunities to discuss friendship, disappointment, empathy and kindness.
Don't let the stress of who to invite get in the way of celebrating. Getting together with family and friends to cherish and celebrate your child's birthday is important, its a time to have fun and an opportunity for children to develop important social skills.
Here are a few tips to help reduce the stress so you can get back to putting together the party and creating memories worth remembering.
1. Write the guest list with your child. Discuss with him about who they want to invite and how others might feel if they are not invited.
2. Be discreet about giving out invites. Slip invitations into backpacks, hand them out personally or organise a private playdate where he can give them out himself. Alternatively, you could mail or email the invites.
3. Discuss with him about keeping the party to himself during the school day, explain that this will help to reduce hurt feelings with their class mates that did not get invites. Explain if a friend asks him about the party around uninvited children, he should politely say its a small party and he could only invite a few friends. Teach them polite responses and encourage empathy.
Finally, if your child gets left out, be sympathetic but don't try to fix it. Offer a hug and spend some quality time together. Your child will get over it very quickly if left to. Children are surprisingly resilient if we give them the opportunity.
With a bit of planning and discussing, birthday parties can be so much fun for adults and children. Weather you keep it large or small remember to embrace your child's milestone and celebrate!