The planning has been done, the rsvp’s are in and the food, decorations and entertainment are all finally organised! Now its time for the kids party to begin and after all the effort that’s gone in to making it a great event for all, your child begins to descend into a complete meltdown!
Children (especially our youngest little people) can become overstimulated easily and kids parties have so much going on that its easy for them to become overwhelmed. Read our latest blog for some 10 great tips on how to prevent and manage party meltdowns.
Firstly, if we can prevent our kids from becoming overstimulated in the first place, then we can maybe prevent the meltdown altogether. So how can we prevent a party meltdown?
Kids parties are one massive energy drain, not only for our kids but for us as parents too!
Prepare beforehand by trying to get your little ones to have a small nap or quiet time so their energy buckets are topped up and they are refreshed and ready for the party. Try and keep the sugar heavy foods away too knowing how much will likely be consumed later!
The timing of the party is also important, parties earlier in the day when kids are still fresh will always fair better than at the end of the day.
Kids parties can be a recipe for meltdowns due to the food alone. There is usually a whole host of sugar loaded foods and drinks which give your kids a crazy sugar rush and then in an hour cause them to have a massive crash.
If you are planning the party, try to restrict the amount of sugary treats available and go for some more refreshing and healthy options such as freshly cut fruit or vegetable sticks and dips.
4. Lights, sights and sounds
The kids are already being stimulated by the food, toys or entertainment and just by having multiple kids together to play. Try not to provide too much extra stimulation with extra colourful decorations or loud music.
Remember that one child can be loud enough – put a group of 5+ kids together and it can get very loud very fast. Music is likely not required unless its for a party game.
5. Manage Expectations
Remember kids younger than 5 are not wired to sit still or concentrate on one thing for long periods of time. Expect that they will want to move, run and jump around. Provide the kids with lots of space to do this.
Also keep the activities or entertainment in line with what they can manage. The Little Monkeys team were at a teddy bear party and the kids (all under 4) were repeatedly asked to keep the noise down and to sit down and not run around, which proved too hard for almost all the kids!
Managing the Meltdown
Sometimes, we have done all we can to prevent a meltdown but they still happen. So what can we do to assist our kids when they board the express train to meltdown town?
1. Be calm
Kids are amazingly intuitive. If they sense your stress levels rising or negative / frustrated tones in your voice or body language this will only increase their distress and add to the meltdown.
Take some time, focus on your breathing and keep calm. Our Little Monkey particularly likes to play with a breathing app with a little flower that gets larger and smaller as you breathe when she is upset. This also works as a great distraction (see 4. below).
2. Remove the stimulation
If your child is becoming overstimulated, remove the stimulation.
This may mean removing or restricting a toy causing conflict, removing the lollies when the kids are getting a bit too sugar crazed or taking them away from the noise and other kids especially if they are starting to hit out or yell.
3. Let them get it out
Tears contain cortisol, a stress hormone, and so the body is literally releasing stress by letting those tears flow. Let your kid process how they are feeling and validate their feelings.
Get down to their level, empathise and let them know you are there for them. Give them the space and time away from the party to process how they are feeling and why.
If your child is only just heading into meltdown territory or is on the wind down, offer distractions. A different toy, a little bit of food or even bringing something from home that you know will help them are all ways of distracting them from the problem that caused them to go into meltdown in the first place. Give older children the chance to help with something like putting the candles in the cake or putting out food / decorations.
5. Take them home
Sometimes it’s best to just finish up. If your child has reached the point of exhaustion and is no longer able to hold it together the best course of action may be to take them home.
If you are hosting the party, see if a family member or friend can take them home. Its not fair to ask our little people to push through when they have nothing left in the tank.
So, there we go 5 tips to prevent a meltdown and 5 tips to manage a meltdown. Hopefully, these tips can help make your next event a great success and one that is enjoyed by a