Children Hate Surprise Parties!

    If you love planning a surprise party, here’s something that may surprise you:

Children don’t really like surprises.

     Before you turn the page, think for a moment about what you, as an adult, like about surprises and compare that to the experience of a young child.  By and large our days are comprised of routine.  We get up at the same time, get to work, park in the same place, talk to the same people (often about the same things), and then come home taking the exact same route day after day like we have for years.  We look forward to any break in the routine, even if it’s just “casual Friday”.
Children on the other hand wake up and each day is new.  They learn as many as 5-10 new words every day (can you imagine learning that many new words every day?!), and they are constantly learning about what is and is not appropriate.  They are learning all the nuances of body language and struggle to interpret different accents and translate words they don’t understand using context clues.  They struggle for some sort of understanding so that they can have a reasonable chance at guessing what comes next.

    Why do you think they like watching the same video over and over again?  It provides them with the power that comes from being able to predict what comes next.  It is something they understand and feel comfortable with.

    So children are trying to learn to predict their world while adults are far too adept at predicting theirs.  We appreciate a break from the everyday, but children relish the familiar.  Adults have almost complete control over the activities and actions of their day, while children have others make most or all of their decisions.
Young children are also coming to terms with the fact that they are not the centre of the universe as they once thought.  The older they get, the less ego-centric they realize the world is (ego-centric in this sense meaning the child as the centre of all that happens).  This can be troubling for a child and emotionally traumatic. 


 Pretending to forget a major day like a birthday, can be horribly destructive to a child’s self esteem, even if the deceit is later rectified by the actual surprise party.

      Children also thrive on anticipation.  Getting excited about the approaching birthday is often more rewarding even than the party itself.  Don’t you remember as a child counting down the days to your party?  Even if your child insists that they want a surprise party I would contemplate refusing, and instead offer to throw a great party with a very special surprise at the party which you won’t reveal until the big day.
Now you get all the anticipation and more!  Plus, they still get the surprise they wanted.  The surprise could be a character appearance (a super hero, a favourite cartoon character, a magician, etc.). 

 It could even be a very major present.  But the child knows that he or she will be having a party and that there will be something exciting there. 

This is far better than not letting the child know that you are even planning a party.

Best wishes


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