• Paula Presswood

The 5 mistakes parents make celebrating their shy child’s birthday!

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

You love your sweet, shy, sensitive baby more than words can express and want to celebrate their birthday with a lovely party! How do you strike a balance between challenging some of the not-so-great, clingy, avoidant, shyness behaviours while respecting the boundaries and natural preferences that make your child so awesome and unique?  There are some specific strategies parents can employ to create a fantastic party that will be an enjoyable and positive experience for EVERYONE involved.  There are also some definite don’ts where this topic is concerned.  Mindful party planning will either gently coax your little one out of their shell, or be a negative experience that could be quite stressful for them.

Home Party vs. An Outing The first thing to consider: a home party or an outing.  There is no right or wrong here: some children will find the comfort and security of being on home-turf to have a reassuring effect, while others are horrified at the thought of their peers messing up their stuff! Some children greatly anticipate an outing. Taking the party off-site will have everyone focussed on a shared activity, thereby taking unwanted attention off of the reluctant guest of honour. For other kids, being somewhere new with a group of friends is really just too overwhelming for them to manage.  There is no right or wrong choice here. It is an individual preference.  The bottom line? Communication is key. Ideas for home parties include, hiring an entertainer to visit, hiring a mobile video game truck, showing a movie, doing crafts, or arranging traditional party games, (who doesn’t love Pin the Tail on the Donkey!). Outings may involve booking an indoor playground, attending the movies, a science centre or planetarium, a children’s museum, a restaurant, an escape room, shopping at the mall or playing in a park.  Empower your child by handing some of the decision-making over to them! 

Mistake #1: The (excited and well-meaning!) extroverted parent plans the entire party Instead:  Your child should have an active role in planning their party Having a sense of involvement in the party planning will give your child a sense of confidence, (and hopefully even excitement!) about the upcoming party. Inviting your child to help create the list of party foods that will be served will feel safe and reassuring.  Even more importantly, your child should create the guest list. Many introverts prefer socializing in small groups of close friends. Having the entire class over at once could be far too overwhelming for some.  An intimate gathering might feel much more manageable and therefore mu