Few psychologists and parents alike could dispute the tremendous importance of social interaction for a child’s personal development. In this blog, we explore how birthday parties can help boost your child’s long term social development.
Most people would agree that children who develop sound social and interpersonal skills are more likely to be happier as adults and will be better equipped for the world of work, where good social skills and teamwork are generally a fact of everyday life.
What is child social development?
According to Betty Osman, PHD, who works at the Department of Behavoral Health Child and Adolescent Service of the White Plains Hospital Center in the United States, some of the most important skills in childhood development include formulating and concluding conversations, learning how to respond to criticism and teasing, negotiating, giving and receiving compliments and standing up for oneself without being aggressive.
What does this have to do with birthday parties, however? Well, parties provide an ample opportunity for children to develop the core skills listed above.
Maintaining friendships with school friends
If a typical child attends 10 birthday parties a year, that equates to approximately 1 every five weeks. During these events, your child will have plenty of opportunities to meet other children and initiate conversations, and will naturally acquire new communication skills by learning from other children.
According to the US Psychologist Judith Rich Harris, children’s communication and personality are more influenced by school peers than their genetic make-up or family life, which make sense when you consider the fact the average child spends approximately 30 to 35 hours per week at school (disregarding extracurricular activities, of course). Children inherit dozens of everyday phrases from their school environments, not all of which are necessarily desirable, although this applies to domestic environments as well.
Understanding the social norms of complimenting
When your child receives a birthday gift, there is an opportunity to learn how to respond to these situations, which will be repeated again and again over many years. Sooner or later, your child will understand that how to act appropriately in these circumstances. For example, not complaining or making negative comments or facial expressions when receiving a birthday present that was not what the child wanted, or remembering to say thank you and express gratitude in such situations.
How to be a good winner (and loser)
Children’s birthday parties often involve games, which may revolve around musical chairs or boards games like Monopoly or Scrabble. Inevitably, there will always be winners and losers in these games, and children do not always find it easy to accept defeat in front of their peers. Others, meanwhile, may not know how to respond appropriately when they are winners. In this situation, the goal should be to teach children that it is not the end of the world when somebody loses a game, nor is it appropriate to become overly confident or arrogant when you win.
Birthday parties help children understand social norms
The more children practice essential social skills in the situations that have been discussed above (giving and receiving birthday presents, learning from other peers, winning and losing), the better equipped they are to develop and retain friendships as they become older.
James Sinclair is the Managing Director of The Partyman Company who specialize in planning children’s birthday parties and taking care of everything for you.