Whenever you gather two or more toddlers, the potential for tantrums and tears runs high. This is especially true at toddler birthday parties where many toddlers are gathered together. The good news is that you can prevent most birthday party meltdowns by having a structured age-appropriate activity for the toddlers to enjoy.
Activities Should Be Age-Appropriate
When choosing activities for your toddler’s birthday party, be sure they are age-appropriate. When an activity is not age-appropriate, toddlers can become easily frustrated, because they are unable to manage the activity successfully. Age-appropriate activities for toddler birthday parties include freestyle painting with large brushes and non-toxic paint, sing-along time, story time and decorating cupcakes. Age-appropriate activities will help prevent tantrums and meltdowns, which often have their root in frustration.
Activities Should Have Structure
During the toddler years, children engage in parallel play. This means that they will play next to each other, but not necessarily with each other. For toddler birthday parties, having a set activity where each toddler does his own activity, in the same area, at the same time, works best. Making an arts and craft project, jumping in a bounce house and eating birthday cake are activities that provide the appropriate level of structure for toddlers.
Activities Should Be Short
Toddlers tend to have a short attention span, so sitting and watching a birthday entertainer, like a clown or magician, may not be fun for your toddler guests. Any single activity that lasts more than 20 minutes is likely to exceed a toddler’s attention span.
Activities Should Be Safe
During this stage of development, toddlers are learning about their independence and are keen on doing everything on their own. As a result, toddlers often try to do things that they aren’t quite developmentally ready to do. For this reason, it’s important to provide safe activities for your toddler guests. If your toddler guests will be playing outdoors, for example, be sure that any play structures are age-appropriate. If you’re doing an arts and crafts project, it’s important to avoid small items that could be choking hazards or tempting for a toddler to put up her nose. Glue, paint and other supplies should be washable and non-toxic.
Activities Should Be Hands-on
Toddlers are active. They like to run, jump, play and otherwise be on the move. Toddler birthday party activities should encourage participation and focus on engaging, rather than entertaining, the children. Hands-on activities may include age appropriate games and arts and crafts projects. Since toddlers have a lot of energy, confining them to sit for the duration of the party won’t work well. Instead, alternate activities that require sitting, like eating birthday cake, with activities that require movement, like a backyard treasure hunt.
- eating my birthday cake image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com