For all their fun and excitement, birthday parties can be unsettling to your preschooler. Being suddenly thrust into a group of other boys and girls his age-some of them perhaps, strangers- may make him feel threatened and cause him to forget his manners.
At the least, it will test all the social graces you have been working to teach him. The youngster will have to ask for things nicely, remember to say thank you, be polite at the table and work at making somebody else feel special.
It may be even more stressful when the birthday is his and he is the guest of honor. Indeed, his birthday party may be the first time that the youngster has played host to more than one or two other children. Many young children are simply overwhelmed by the combination of heightened expectations and being the center of attention.
You can help your child prepare for such a social challenge by going over all the points of etiquette he has been practicing. But you should be realistic about what to expect, particularly if he is the birthday boy. It is not uncommon for the star of the show to be the worst behaved youngster at the party. This is particularly true of toddlers but often holds for older children as well.
You can teach your youngster to open his presents gracefully and not rip away the wrappings, but this will be very difficult for him to remember. And be sure to alter him that his guests will want to try out his new toys.
Urge him to do his best to share and remind him that once the guests are gone, the toys will be his alone. Even if the youngster does not rise to the occasion the day of the party, the days leading to the big event should have been productive in terms of learning manners.
In addition, do all the planning and preparation you can to make the event go smoothly. Above all, you should keep the party small in number and short in duration. When the big day arises, be tolerant of lapses in social grace-and be especially generous with praise if your child’s manners shine.