"I’m embarrassed to ask this…what will they think of me?"
This is what many parents told us when we talked about the importance of asking “safety questions” of another parent or friend before sending kids off to a play date, sleep over or sports practice.
When my niece was a little girl, she and her grandmother took the bus downtown for an appointment.
“A little girl and her family are coming to stay with the neighbors,” my mother-in-law announced to Ava. “She’s from another country and doesn’t speak English.”
Before I had my daughter, I remember cringing every time I heard a parent say the word “playdate.” Like “silent birth” and “attachment parenting,” it sounded a little too new-wave and high maintenance. When I was growing up, silent births happened when a woman screamed so loudly she lost her voice, and attachment parenting was more aptly named “you can’t say ‘No’ to your child.” Likewise, we never had playdates. When the neighbor kids knocked on the door, Mom didn’t offer them handmade cupcakes on coordinating napkins. In fact, they weren’t even allowed inside.
Recently I attended a parenting talk by Joel Haber, author of Bullyproofing Your Child For Life. Most parenting seminars that I attend are not very well attended, but this one was packed. Why? “Bullying” and “Cyberbullying” have become the trigger words for fear in parents. We recognize that we have limits in our ability to protect our children, and it seems that these are the catch-phrases for the danger that lurks beyond.
Social anxiety can be mild or severe, but it makes childhood and adolescence more difficult, preventing kids from developing into confident, connected adults. While psychiatric medications are one option, natural or non-drug therapies can also treat social anxiety and social phobia. Non-medical treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, biofeedback and relaxation techniques. Help your child or teen learn to cope with social anxiety, reduce stress and thrive.
Left to their own devices, children at slumber parties tend to get tired and cranky. Keep the pace upbeat and fun by scheduling fun sleepover games and activities. Instead of planning competitive games, set the stage for silliness, enjoyment and participation with creative slumber party games. As the evening progresses, change the pace from more active games to quieter, soothing activities that help the children wind down.
When you are throwing a birthday party, the last thing you want is an awkward silence to permeate the room. You don't want to have kids sitting around in chairs, just looking around. If you don't do anything to help, this stilted, ill-at-ease behavior can ruin a party mood. To avoid this party downer, be ready with some icebreaker games.
Attending or throwing a sleepover birthday party can be a rite of passage for many preteen and teenage children. Spending a night away from home shows that they are old enough to be away from their parents while giving them a chance to bond with other children their own age. Unfortunately, slumber parties can get out of hand when bored children start teasing and playing pranks on each other. Keep your child's sleepover running smoothly by planning structured activities for the guests.