Unless you’re blessed with one of those unicorn children who don’t have tantrums at social events, you’ve probably experienced a meltdown or two at one of your kid’s friend’s parties. It can be embarrassing, but most other parents understand what it’s like! Here a few tips to keep the disruption to a minimum when your child gets too overwhelmed.
1) Take them somewhere quiet
The first step is to remove your little one from the situation. It happens to the best of us; sometimes being around lots of people and noise can be overstimulating and we need a break.
If you’re at someone’s house for the party, make sure to ask first about which room you can take your child into - you don’t want to offend your host.
Once you’ve found a quiet spot, you can start the next phase.
2) Get down to their level and talk calmly
Kneel or crouch down, so that you’re at eye level with your child. This is a tip that many experts swear by, and with good reason. Children are a lot more likely to respond positively to what you have to say when you’re not standing over them. Imagine how you’d feel if someone bigger than you was talking down to you, literally!
Ask your child what’s wrong, but don’t get frustrated if they can’t or won’t tell you. Just keep calmly talking to them and reassuring them that you’re here for them. Don’t try and bribe them to calm down, but do explain to them that they will need to settle themselves if they want to stay at the party.
Let them know what is happening, and why they can’t do/have/eat/etc. what they were melting down over. I.e. “No, you cannot have the presents, they are your friend’s. It is their birthday, so they get presents. When it’s your birthday, you will get presents too.”
3) Return to the party once they have calmed down - or leave if they haven’t
Once your child has calmed down, bring them back to the party. Watch for signs of another meltdown, and remove them from the situation altogether if it’s getting too much for them. This can happen as the day goes on, because they’ll be getting more and more tired.
If your child can’t calm down, then it’s best to leave the party altogether. You don’t want to spoil the occasion, and you may feel mean taking them home, but sometimes it’s what’s best.
With these three tips, you’ll hopefully feel a lot more prepared to tackle the next birthday party meltdown! They’re a fact of life when you have young children, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle them.