It’s surprising to some, how a birthday party invitation can be anxiety provoking for a child. For some, it evokes strong social anxiety if they don’t have friends, don’t know how to make friends, perceive that they are not liked by other children and fear embarrassment.
Some children are right on track with social development but still, show panic-like responses when they are faced with a party invite. For most of the children I’ve worked with on this issue, the “fear of the unknown” is a major player. The environment, activities and mixed group of children attending could all be unknown factors. It’s normal for your child to be overwhelmed by this, and not even understand why. Either way, do your best to listen to and validate their feelings. Then commit to attending those parties with some anxiety reducing strategies under way.
Tips for Reducing Anxiety Around Birthday Parties:
- Most importantly, send your child to the party! Avoiding the party is more likely to increase the fear and decrease their chances of going to the next one.
- Help your child identify at least one person they will know, a “safe” buddy (child or adult)
- Role play ways they can meet and greet new children
- Have them carry your phone number in your pocket, and if they still feel afraid during the party they should call to “check in”
- For intense resistance, tell your child that the only must is that they get in the door. Once they check out the scene (and see all the fun!) they can make an agreement on how long to stay