The lights are dim, the candles lit, and as everyone begins to sing the Happy Birthday
song—your child bursts into tears.
Why? And what can you do to prevent this from happening?
This is a big day with big emotions. Validate those feelings, and try to remember there’s
no such thing as a perfect party—or a perfect anything for that matter. Begin with prayer. Put
your birthday plans in the hands of a perfect God and then trust Him with the outcome.
1. Talk to your child long before the day of the party. Have a candid conversation sprinkled with
some leading questions. Don’t wait until the day of to hear, “I thought I was going to have a
“What are you most excited about?”
“Are you thinking about an indoor party or an outdoor party?”
“Who do you think will be coming?”
“Is there anything special you want to wear for the party?”
“What kind of snacks/food do you want to have?”
Understanding what’s most important to your child gives you time to either make it happen or
prepare them for the let-down they will experience and deal with it ahead of time.
2. Big Day – Big Emotions
This goes for everyone—you, your child, and the other children at the party.
Add sugar to the mix, and you have a potential birthday bomb ready to explode at any moment.
Your child may or may not enjoy being the center of attention. Introverted children,
suddenly finding themselves in the limelight (especially after two years of hiding behind a mask,
How To Beat Birthday Party Meltdowns
staying six feet away from everyone, and attending virtual school), can experience social anxiety.
Take it slow. Don’t cram too many activities into the day, and keep the number of guests to a
Extroverted children can quickly become overwhelmed trying to do too much with too
many people all at once. All the activity and excitement may be fun at first, but enough is
enough, and after a while, they can run out of steam and want to withdraw. Keep the party short
and sweet with as little extra hype as possible, and plan for nap-time afterward.
Two bonus tips:
- If you play games, make them non-competitive. The birthday boy/girl may feel
it’s their birthday, so they should win every time, and everyone at the party may not be a
good sport. Birthday parties are one of those times when everyone should win, and all the
prizes are the same.
- Wait to open presents until after the guests are gone. No one's feelings will be
hurt if your child blurts out, “I already have this,” or their facial expression and body
language speak volumes of unappreciation or dislike. It will keep your child’s gifts from
being destroyed by the other kids and help their focus remain on their guest rather than
just wanting to play with their new toys. You’ll also have more control over who gave
what for thank you notes, and you can privately workout which toys may not be
appropriate for your family.