Most everyone enjoys a party, but not all children want parents to throw a party for birthdays. The age of your child, personality type and the kind of party help you determine when, or if, you should stop the annual ritual of throwing parties for birthdays. Parents with the ability to adapt to the changing tastes and emotional development of children find themselves planning and throwing annual parties for their children, grandchildren and great-grandkids. Family traditions that include birthday celebrations help create stability and smooth life transitions for your children, according to the Utah State University Extension.
Balloons, Hat and Noise Maker Parties
Birthday party activities, decorations and themes should change as your child grows, and adapting to these age changes helps keep your children interested in celebrating the annual event. Babies and toddlers enjoy simple parties, but elementary-age students typically look for themed parties focusing on special interests. Older elementary-age children enjoy parties at interesting places such as science or art museums or skate parks, depending on your child's interests. Jennifer Swanson, Melina R. Raab, Nicole Roper and Carl J. Dunst of the Center for the Advanced Study of Excellence in Early Childhood and Family Support Practices suggest selecting activities that interest your child and that involve things your child does well to increase interest in the party.
Family parties involve inviting relatives, and perhaps just a few close friends of your child. Kids typically enjoy this type of party until parents become a bit of an embarrassment. PBS Parents identifies the ages of 6 through 11 as when children begin to rebel and critique parents. When your child wants to put some distance between herself and family members, invite only family members to parties and leave friends off the family-party guest list, or host a party for friends only. Selecting a date other than the official birthday for family events also allows your teenager to go to movies or an event with friends to recognize the birth date.
Middle and high school birthday celebrants enjoy parties, but generally not events featuring family members as guests. Parents in tune with teenagers abandon formal parties popular with elementary-age kids that include planned games and theme decorations. Your teen may welcome a celebration with food, media, including popular music borrowed from your teen's play list, and a guest list of close friends, but ask before planning the details. Avoid planning a surprise party for your teen without some input from your child's close friends.
Very young children typically don't care about the location of the birthday party, as long as the celebration features food, but older kids enjoy location parties. Selecting a special location for the party that your child enjoys helps extend the time for enjoyable birthday bashes. Preteens and teens who bowl, rock climb or play paintball enjoy a party with friends and a facility rented for the events, but ask before bringing out a cake and singing "Happy Birthday" at the location. Kids in the last year of high school and college-age children with interests in flying, scuba or skin diving may enjoy a planned birthday celebration, but allow your older children to have input about the planned activities for the best chance for party success.
- PBS Parents: Talking with Kids -- School Age: Ages 6-11
- Exploratorium: Private and Corporate Event Rentals
- CASE Tools: Promoting Young Children's Participation in Interest-Based Everyday Learning Activities
- Utah State University Extension: Strengthening Family Ties
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Audience Insights -- Communicating to Teens (Aged 12-17)
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images