It's P-A-R-T-Y Time!

In addition to having fun and celebrating, kids learn a lot at parties. They learn about themselves and how they feel and act around other people. They also learn about manners and etiquette. And sometimes they learn things you wish they didn’t know. You can help make parties constructive experiences, no matter what your children’s ages, by taking some simple steps like asking the host’s parents about planned activities and introducing yourself to the other attendees (either when you drop your child off or as a greeter if the party is at your home). Read on for additional ideas on getting the (positive) party started.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Keep kids’ parties simple, short, and small. Consider inviting one guest per year of the host child’s age as a guideline.
    • Remember your audience—little children enjoy easy games, fun decorations, and attention and assistance from adults. Kids’ parties do not need to be big productions to be successful.
    • When your children attend parties, take your cue from them on whether or not to stay. Some will have so much fun they’ll barely notice you, while others will only feel comfortable with you at their side.
    • parents with children 6 to 9
    • When planning a party for your children’s friends, consider choosing a theme or focus that will help you make choices about food, activities, and decorations. Include your child in the decision-making.
    • When you host or attend parties for your children, drink very little or no alcohol. This restraint not only models responsible behavior, but helps to ensure everyone’s safety.
    • Consider finding out in advance what activities are planned and if you don’t approve, say something or don’t let your child attend. Parents ideas about what’s okay for kids to eat, watch, or play can vary a lot.
    • parents with children 10 to 15
    • Encourage your children to host small parties in your home. Help them make a guest list, plan the menu and activities, and prepare for the event.
    • Know your community’s curfew laws and always make sure young partygoers have enough time to get home before the deadline.
    • Always contact the parents of party hosts to find out the start and end times, if they will be chaperoning, how many young people are invited, what activities are planned, and whether young people might be exposed to things that you consider inappropriate or unsafe (such as alcohol, unrestricted Internet access, or certain movies).
    • parents with children 16 – 18
    • Some teens think that all parties have to be unsupervised and involve drinking or other illegal activities. Help your children plan fun, “dry” parties at your home or another safe location.
    • Always find out the details of a planned party and confirm those plans with the host family.
    • Never serve alcohol at teenagers’ parties. You may think you’re preventing tragedy by serving alcohol and taking away car keys, but you’re actually breaking the law and undermining the boundaries and values that other parents are trying to maintain.
  • Understand that parties are opportunities for your children to practice social skills, make choices about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and meet new people. As a safety net, however, always offer them a no-questions-asked-until-later “out” (a ride home, even a pick-up at the end of the block) if they start to feel vulnerable or uncomfortable.

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