Film and photography are both great ways to preserve and share our most valued memories — and thanks to the evolution of technology — it’s never been easier to take high-quality photos and videos of life’s important moments.
You can relive your best moments through photos and videos, and share your joy with family and friends. However, it can sometimes be difficult to truly experience these moments if you’re also trying to capture them on camera.
This can put people in a difficult position during events, as they try to have fun and live in the moment while simultaneously recording memories and milestones. Fortunately, there are several ways to balance your desire to capture events on camera with your personal experience.
Decide What You Want to Shoot in Advance
Trying to decide what to shoot in real-time during an event or trip can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling uncertain about this, it may cause you to take more photos or videos than necessary, limiting your ability to enjoy the event.
By deciding what specific moments you want to capture before the event, and planning your photo shoots around these moments, you can save yourself time and avoid agonizing over potential missed photo ops.
These moments will vary depending on the type of event you’re planning. For example, if you’re planning on hosting a birthday party, you may want to prioritize moments like cutting the cake and opening presents for photographs. This will allow you to spend more time interacting with friends and family during the party.
Practice With Your Camera Before the Event
To consistently take good pictures or videos during an event, familiarize yourself with your camera. Different types of cameras and smartphones have different features and interfaces, and they can often vary in complexity.
This confusion is especially apparent if you ever ask someone else to take a group photo for you. The photography process can take much longer if the cameraperson isn’t familiar with the device they’re using.
Dealing with this confusion during an event can be very time-consuming, and guests may become impatient as you sift through different settings and menu options while they wait to be photographed.
If you’re not already comfortable using your camera, practicing with it before an event can help you avoid making your guests wait and enable you to capture higher-quality photos and videos.
Use Continuous Shoot Mode
Continuous shoot mode, sometimes called burst mode, is a camera setting that allows the photographer to take multiple photos of the same subject at once. It is common in many types of cameras and smartphones. By using a camera set to continuous shoot mode, you can photograph difficult subjects more easily during events.
Continuous shoot mode is ideal for photographing moving targets, such as children in play, as it enables the cameraperson to instantly take multiple shots of the same scene and then choose the best one later. This can help save you time during events, and allow you to capture candid moments that may not be possible on other camera settings.
Trade-off Camera Duties
If you’re hosting a big event like a Bar Mitzvah or a birthday party, handling all the photography yourself can be a stressful and time-consuming job. It can also be frustrating if you’re trying to balance other hosting duties, or if you simply want to enjoy the experience with your friends and family.
To avoid being put in this difficult position, you should plan to periodically trade-off photography duties with other people throughout the event. This can give you more time to socialize and entertain your guests without sacrificing your record of these valued memories.
It may be beneficial to choose your photography ‘team’ and discuss your plans with them in advance, so that you’re not scrambling to find relief during the event. In many cases, your family members and other guests will also be interested in capturing the event. It should be relatively easy to find others willing to take a shift on the camera.
Stick to One Take
When you’re taking photos at an event, it can be tempting to try and get the “perfect shot”, even if it requires multiple attempts. While it’s important to strive for quality pictures, asking subjects to pose for multiple takes can cause them to become antsy and make the shot look unnatural, especially if you’re photographing children.
Often, the first photo you take will be the best one. If someone sneezes or turns their head, a retake may be unavoidable, but limiting yourself to one take in most cases can save you time during the event and help you capture more natural-looking photos.
Leave the Entertainment to the Professionals
Making and recording memories at the same time can be especially difficult if you’re hosting an event, as you’ll also have a range of other responsibilities and obligations. Handling all of these responsibilities yourself can be exhausting and prevent you from enjoying the experience, especially if you’re entertaining kids and adults at once.
To preserve your energy toward photography, you may want to outsource some of the more demanding aspects of event planning to professionals. Hiring a professional entertainment service to handle the fun and games can give you more bandwidth to interact with guests and make sure the event is running smoothly.
A professional party service can provide high-quality amusements that would be difficult and expensive to set up yourself, like bounce house rentals that will make your event more unique and memorable, and professional party clowns that will keep groups of children organized without constant supervision.
Encourage Guests to Take Their Own Photos
Sometimes, guests will want to take their own photos at events to preserve their memories and commemorate the occasion. Giving your guests a unique way to take their own photos can help you preserve the memory of the event more accurately, and give you more time to enjoy the experience while it’s happening.
Incorporating photography devices directly into the event, such as by renting photo booths or providing disposable cameras, can make it fun for guests to take and share their own pictures. This can make the event itself more enjoyable and leave you with a larger archive of recorded memories that would be difficult to capture with a single photographer.
There’s nothing quite like the magic of a child’s birthday party — the sight of giant grins, wide-eyed wonder, and unbridled excitement on every little face. For kids, a birthday celebration should always feel like pure, effortless joy. As a parent, however, you now realize the planning that goes into throwing the perfect party, and you may feel some pressure leading up to the special day.
Your child’s most joyous and formative years won’t last forever, so you really want to make every birthday count, with each annual celebration just as memorable as the last. But how can you blend the essential birthday traditions with unique ideas each and every year? The key is to make a creative twist on the most classic party activities, using a fresh theme or special guests to revitalize the party experience. Here are some inventive ideas for revolutionizing your child’s next birthday.
1. Themed Activities and Guests
Choosing a theme for your party is a great way to streamline the planning while creating a magical adventure for the children. Whether it’s pirates, princesses, or an enchanted forest, a party theme is sure to please the kiddos and provide a clear picture of how to decorate.
Imagine transforming your house into a fairytale setting, complete with costumes for everyone! You could even invite a special guest character to attend your party — a professional entertainer who comes ready to delight the kids, allowing you to sit back and just enjoy the festivities.
2. Bounce House Games
A bounce castle can fit right in with the theme of your party, especially if you order one decked out with superheroes or beloved movie characters. You can’t go wrong with this supersized addition to your party, but if you’re going to rent a giant inflatable for your child’s birthday, you can really make the most of it by hosting friendly competitions inside. Classic games like Simon Says or freeze tag will be hilariously amplified in the colorful confines of a bouncy chamber. Here are some more ideas for exciting games to play.
You know the age-old game of dodgeball and how much fun it can be — now imagine that sport in a bounce house! If your children and their friends love this game, then simply get some soft foam balls to throw in the bouncy house, and bounce dodgeball is guaranteed to be a hit! As you probably know, dodgeball games can sometimes get out of control, so it’s best to limit this activity and the time that the balls are in the bounce house. Setting a few boundaries will be important for ensuring everyone’s safety and continued fun.
Capture the Flag
This is another classic game that gets a big boost in fun with a bounce house. The game works by dividing party-goers into two teams, each with its one “base” and a flag (bandana or some other object) to protect. The aim is to capture the opposing team’s flag and return it to your own base without getting tagged and surrendering the flag.
With a bounce house, the inflatable can become one of the bases, or it can be an obstacle course between sides. Players will have to dodge and tumble through the chamber to complete their mission!
As with any game of capture the flag, consideration for safety is important. Make sure there’s no roughhousing, and consider setting a “safe zone” where kids can opt out of chasing and catch their breath. A few basic ground rules like these and a parent referee to facilitate will ensure that the bouncy battleground remains fun for everyone.
Freeze bounce is a simple game that’s not as physical as dodgeball or capture the flag, so it’s better for a less competitive group of kids. Not to be confused with freeze tag, freeze bounce is a game of reflexes that goes along with music.
It works by playing a song while everyone jumps around. When the music stops, no more jumping! Everyone has to freeze and land their last jump. Anyone who falls over or keeps moving is out for that round, and so begins the next round when the music starts again. The last kid standing wins! This easy game adds a dash of competition and extra fun to any bounce house, and is sure to be fun for kids of any age.
3. Modern Clowns
Ever thought of booking a clown for your party? Professional clowns can offer way more than you might imagine for a children’s birthday celebration. Of course, they can do balloon animals, face painting, and magic tricks — but a true birthday performer can really run the party. A pro clown will captivate the kids’ attention, drive the narrative of your party theme, and most importantly allow you as a parent to sit back and relax. Hiring a modern clown is not just a way of elevating the fun for the kids, but also buying a serious favor for yourself.
4. Food Concession Equipment
The food factor is critical for any kids’ birthday party, even though it can be one of the most difficult parts to plan. Of course, you’ll want to order a custom cake and make sure there’s enough to go around, but a great party runs not on cake alone. Consider renting professional-quality food concessions like a popcorn machine, snow cone machine, or even a hot dog cart to keep faces smiling and bellies full for a whole afternoon of celebration.
5. Photo and Video Booths
With all the work you put into throwing the perfect party, you will of course want plenty of photos to remember it by. Amazing decorations and hilarious games mean that phones will be out and recording, but why not build photography into the festivities? If you supply a photo booth with silly items for dress-up, kids and parents alike can show off their costumes for the camera.
Photo booths are a classic addition for all types of events, so you really can’t go wrong with this addition to your kids’ party. You could, however, go above and beyond the traditional by adding a 360-degree video experience. This high-tech video booth uses a spinning arm to capture an all-around view of your pose in motion — instantly saving a shareable clip to your phone.
6. Interactive Games
Remember going to the carnival as a kid, marveling at the flashing game booths and the life-size teddy bear prizes? You can recreate some of that wonder for your children, and bring a touch of nostalgia for the parents, by introducing miniature carnival games to the birthday party. These are portable game booths modeled after classic carnival games like Fish in a Bowl, Duck Hunt, and Down-a-Clown.
If a carnival is not the style you’re going for, you could opt for an arcade environment instead. Kids who love video games will love interactive electronic games that bring the neon thrill of the arcade into your party. And don’t forget the prizes! Whether you go with carnival or arcade-style games, you can up the fun factor and spur some friendly competition by promising those coveted stuffed animals to the winners.
Every one of your child’s birthdays is a special opportunity for happy memories that last. By creating a fresh, innovative twist on classic party activities each year, you can make these days not only magical for your child but also unforgettable for everyone involved.
Parties can be a challenging space for children with sensory sensitivities. They often want to join in the fun but don’t feel safe doing so because of an overwhelming amount of sensory input. There are many reasons why a child might have sensory sensitivities, ranging from being on the autism spectrum, to developmental phases.
As parents and caregivers, it’s important to create a celebratory space that’s inclusive to all guests. Sensory overload may be a painful, and even traumatic experience for certain children. Parties — whether they’re birthdays, classroom parties, or other special events — can still be highly fun while providing extra accommodation for kids who experience sensory sensitivities.
The Importance of Inclusion
Inclusion at parties is so important, for several reasons. Social interaction helps kids make friends, and improve social skills outside of their normal environments — such as home or school. Improved social skills can lead to increased confidence and empathy for others. Social inclusion is important for all kids, but can be especially important for kids with developmental or social delays, who may have trouble generating and nurturing social skills on their own.
There is a common adage that kids are like sponges — they soak up and hold onto what’s around them. By providing and modeling inclusive and tolerant environments, you can increase your ability to bring up kids who are tolerant and inclusive.
Make It Clear That All Activities Are Optional
One of the easiest ways to create a safe and welcoming space for different sensory thresholds is to make it clear that all activities are optional. This can go for activities that may cause unpleasant sensory experiences for certain kids, such as face painting.
This may seem obvious to adults, but may not be to the children in attendance. Taking a few minutes to establish that everything is on a “want-to” basis will help empower kids to make the choice that’s right for their bodies, rather than the choice that they think may be expected of them.
Designate Areas for Different Activities
Designating specific areas for different activities is not only a great way to keep party activities smooth and contained, mess-wise, but is also a great option for kids with sensory sensitivities. If there are certain activities they don’t want to do, they can simply go to another area.
Freedom can increase feelings of inclusion, and decrease isolation from the party during activities that aren’t safe for them. You can have parents chaperone each area if there are any safety concerns, like scissor use, or even entice older siblings with free pizza or allowance money.
Have a Variety of Snacks Available
Variety and accessibility are the name of the game when it comes to sensory accommodations. Having several easy-to-eat snack foods, such as popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream, or veggie trays, can make it easier for children to choose the foods they want and avoid the ones they don’t. For parties, it’s helpful to think about food less like serving a structured meal, and more like making sure kids have the resources to get full.
Getting concession rental items, such as popcorn or snow cone machines, can even help you turn snack time into an activity all its own. Furthermore, some kids become less wary of food if they can see how it’s made or make it themselves, making concessions items an excellent option.
All machinery should only be used with adult supervision, and some may not be safe for child use — be sure to check all manuals or use agreements before setting this up as an activity.
Ask Your Party Planner for Advice
Parents and caregivers can discover new ways to accommodate children with sensory sensitivities by asking their party planner for additional information. Ask about games or activities that may be loud or bright or if they offer accommodating accessories, like earplugs, for those activities. Furthermore, party planners simply may have more experience with a wider variety of children, and may have a few tips for dealing with sensory concerns.
Discuss Your Concerns With Performers
It’s important to discuss any accommodations or sensory concerns with performers before the event. By talking to party clowns and other performers beforehand about things that might be an issue — such as loud noises, flashing lights, or audience participation — you can create a safe environment without putting any kids on the spot or altering the event as it’s happening. The majority of children’s performers are happy to make accommodations, as long as they know about them ahead of time.
Another great way to mitigate sensory sensitivities is to book performers virtually. Many performers, such as kids’ characters, may have started offering these types of performances during COVID. Through video calls, you create a layer of separation that can help especially sensitive kids still enjoy and interact with the performance, without feeling unsafe. This is another option you may talk to your desired performers about.
Provide Plenty of Information to Guests
Providing your guests — in this case, the parents or caregivers of your guests — with plenty of information about the party in advance allows children with sensory sensitivities and their families to prepare for the event and share any questions or requests. Discussing not just what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it is a great way to foster inclusiveness. You’ll want to do this in advance of the party, so that you’ll have plenty of time to field any questions or issues that may come up.
You can do this in a group message over social media, a chain email or text, or even include information on the invitation. If you’re a teacher or other similar figure — like a scout or youth group leader — you can use whatever channels you normally use to communicate with parents, such as take-home newsletters.
Best Activities for Children With Sensory Sensitivities
As you’re planning a party for children with sensory sensitivities, you may consider the following activities. They are specifically suited for sensory sensitivities, as they can be customized for any sensory needs. These activities are scalable, and again, can be made totally optional. You may choose to use one, or all, of these activities for your event.
Individual craft stations are a great option, as the kids can create their own crafts, at their own pace. Crafts could be a main activity, as you can create all kinds of games involving crafting. There are also popular online crafting games, like Minecraft, that can fit into an overall crafting theme.
Crafting as a secondary activity is a great option for kids to choose if they don’t want to participate in other activities, but still want to be involved.
Bounce Houses and Trampolines
Bounce houses and trampolines may feel like they aren’t a sensory-safe activity — but they can actually be a great outlet for kids with sensory sensitivities. Often, kids with sensory sensitivities will use stimming as a self-soothing technique. This may include behaviors such as rocking, spinning, and even jumping. Therefore, renting a bounce house or trampoline for your event is an excellent option for kids to stim and self-soothe, then rejoin the party.
Furthermore, kids can use their own discretion with bounce houses, as they’re able to choose if they want to enter, and how long they want to spend inside. Finally, a bounce house is a large, quiet, soft place if the main party gets too rowdy — while still being a huge crowd-pleaser for kids.
Scavenger hunts are another great sensory-safe option, as they empower kids to use their senses to find things, and can be tailored for different groups. Furthermore, kids can team up for scavenger hunts, or work solo, depending on which they’d prefer. Scavenger hunts incentivize kids to get involved with the event, and may even help shyer kids feel accomplished and come out of their shells. This is another crowd-favorite activity for kids’ parties.
While special accommodations when planning a kids’ party can feel overwhelming, it’s worth it for the inclusion and enjoyment of everyone in attendance. With these simple additions, you can help kids feel empowered to join in the fun, and included in all the activities.
Kids’ parties are an important way to celebrate milestones and promote socialization among kids. With all of their benefits, however, there are just as many challenges. A group of kids can be boisterous and chaotic at the best of times, and will often be even more so during the excitement of a party. It’s also not uncommon for accidents to happen — spills, broken vases, and scraped knees are a couple of outcomes parents anticipate.
In the chaos, it can certainly be stressful for parents and caregivers to keep the party and its attendees organized. However, it isn’t impossible, as long as you keep the following steps in mind.
Establish Clear Rules
The first step in successfully organizing a children’s party is to set clear ground rules. This will be most effective if the ground rules are conveyed to parents or caregivers beforehand — such as when invitations are sent out.
These could be rules such as how to dress and how activities will be structured. Ideally, the rules for each activity should be regularly reintroduced as you transition to each new activity.
Simplistic signage can also be helpful, although the signage will depend on the age group of the kids. For example, if you’re planning a scavenger hunt or an obstacle course, signs such as “Start here!” with an arrow may be useful for an older group of children, while signage with pictures and arrows may be helpful for younger children.
Designate Areas for Activities
By designating certain areas for different activities, it will be easier to clear previously used activity areas. It will also give the kids a tangible indication of the shift in activities. By moving them from one area to another, you can demonstrate the last activity is over and a new one is beginning. Therefore, you will likely not need to reiterate that the last activity is over and nudge them into shifting gears as often. Different areas may be designated for different games, entertaining demonstrations, and eating.
Hire a Professional Entertainer
Hiring a professional entertainer can help you keep a children’s party organized in many different ways. These entertainers can keep the children engaged and distracted, while also working with the parents or caregivers to lead the children through activities.
Professional entertainers like party clowns are especially helpful because they typically specialize in entertaining children and utilize multiple entertainment methods. While such entertainers can help parents and caregivers lead the children through activities, they are not babysitters. Stay present or find another adult to provide a helping hand when needed.
Plan Structured Group Activities
Structured activities can be a useful tool to keep children on-task and relatively self-organized. Sports and games are common examples. Ideally, these activities should involve interaction between the kids to maintain the party atmosphere and promote socialization between the children. While structured activities can reduce the need for oversight from parents and caregivers, some supervision will still be needed for safety and to avoid any disputes.
Keep Them Engaged
No matter what activities you plan for a party, they must be highly engaging. The best way you can do this is by providing age-appropriate activities that align with the kids’ interests. You can lead typical kids’ games or even rent equipment for special interactive party games. You also should not be afraid to shift gears into another activity if one isn’t a huge hit with the children.
Get a Bounce House
A bounce house is a great way to keep kids entertained while remaining in a confined area. It is also a great means of burning off energy. They are also a great stage for imaginative play or “make-believe”, which has a multitude of psychological benefits for children.
Not only does it provide a space for children to express their creativity and language skills with others, but it’s also a great way to cultivate emotional self-regulation, according to a variety of studies collected by the Scientific American.
In a bounce house, kids can fly through the sky like Peter Pan or team up together to defeat a villain as their favorite Marvel character. Encouraging kids to play make-believe in a bounce house will keep kids occupied, but it will also give you time to handle other matters at the party. Keep your eye on the kids throughout though, to avoid any accidents if the kids get too rough with one another.
Keep Them Fed
A children’s party can burn a lot of energy for everyone involved, which often leads to a lot of hungry kids. Any parent knows that a hungry kid and a grumpy kid are one and the same. As such, always provide plenty of food. Similarly, keep plenty of drinks at hand so kids can stay hydrated.
You should also have a plan on how you plan to feed everyone. You can do this by calling individual groups to get food, having them form a line, and writing their names on their plates and cups. It can also be a logistical challenge to prepare food for so many children, so it may be worth considering buying in bulk or renting concession machines. The latter can also be a fun and interesting addition to the party.
Give Them Objectives
By giving the children objectives, you can keep them goal-oriented, and therefore encourage them to stay focused. Objectives can be related to individual activities, or may span the entirety of the party. For example, a game like, “Capture the Flag” has a clear and tangible objective. Meanwhile, some parties could employ a party-spanning activity such as a scavenger hunt, which encourages the children to find items or fulfill goals throughout the day.
Proper socialization is vital in early childhood. Early socialization has many long-term benefits for things such as collaboration, language development, and the development of interpersonal relationships in general. Ideally, parents and caretakers should facilitate this aspect of early childhood development.
While socialization with parents or caretakers and family is important, it is also important to socialize children with their peers. As such, parents who work together to benefit the socialization of their children can have considerable success in preparing their children for skills vital to later in life.
Be a Good Role Model
Children derive a lot of their behavior from observing the adults around them. Therefore, if you model good socialization skills (e.g. sharing, understanding, good leadership), your children may practice these same skills with their peers. This is another reason to actively collaborate with other parents. You can collectively emulate behavior that you wish your children to model. Additionally, this behavior can also be a point of reference for your kids at a later date. For example, if a child exhibits bad behavior, you can ask them to remember and learn from a past scenario exhibited by the adults.
Plan Interactive Activities
Interactive activities are activities that involve a lot of active participation from the children involved. This active participation can support general socialization as well as the development of confidence and creativity. Many activities can be considered interactive, such as sports and games. Parents and caregivers can lead an interactive activity or they could enlist the assistance of an interactive performer to facilitate this. These interactive activities will be most effective and targeted to the interests of the children involved if all parents and caregivers are consulted and given a voice in the activity.
Promote Physical Activity
Physical activity can be a valuable tool for promoting social development in children. There are many obvious ways that physical activity can be incorporated into childhood interaction, such as the engagement in sports. However, there are many opportunities for incorporating physical activity into less traditional activities as well.
For example, scavenger hunts can promote movement, as can specific artistic endeavors such as sculpting. The inclusion of physical activity can release endorphins — known as feel-good hormones — and make the child feel more so that substantial effort was rewarded. Bounce houses are another way to facilitate activity. Running and jumping in these inflatable structures can be an aerobic workout for children, not to mention the many games they can play with others to socialize.
Such physical activities can further be promoted by unique experiences led by a professional, such as a party clown. Individual parents and caregivers should be consulted to best understand what types of physical activity are most appropriate for the children involved.
Highlight Shared Interests
Collaboration with other parents or caregivers can give you the opportunity of unique insight as to the interests and preferences of a child that your child interacts with. This is valuable because it provides a platform for the children to collaboratively build interest from.
This interest does not need to be specific. It could be a specific interest such as chess, but could also be a generalized interest such as strategic board games. It could also be an interest related to a specific franchise, such as a particular Pixar film. Furthermore, by collaborating with other parents, you can strategically introduce interests.
For example, you could introduce your children, nurture a shared bond, and send them to the same STEM-related camp together. This promotes learning while lessening the stress of attending a scenario where you don’t know anyone.
Find Activities With Collective Goals
Collective goals are a great way to develop social skills because regardless of the individual strategy, you are working toward the same endpoint. This not only forces children to work together for the sake of gaining a shared reward, but it also teaches them how collaboration works when you use strategies like problem-solving. Therefore, they will not only develop social skills relating to compromise and empathy, but also develop their understanding of how different people from different backgrounds approach the world. Such goals can also provide a common interest that offers an opportunity for the kids to self-regulate to a degree.
Know When To Give Them Space
When we think of socialization, we often think exclusively about how we can interact with people effectively — to achieve our goals, to adhere to cultural norms. However, this approach often minimizes the reality of socialization.
Effective socialization is not just conversational aptitude. It is also an understanding of the cues and indicators of the people around you. Therefore, an indication that someone needs space is just as important as the experience of interacting with others.
An adult leader such as a professional clown can be valuable as someone to lead the children through activities, and also understand when individual children stray from the core activity.
What Are the Challenges of Socializing Children?
Socializing children is no easy task. It is a constant work in progress. Significant challenges relating to the challenges of socializing with children include:
- Potential cultural differences;
- Potential accessibility issues;
- Frustration from parents or caregivers;
- Overburden from parents or caregivers;
- Lack of compatibility between children;
- Differing socialization goals between parents and caregivers.
To work through these challenges, parents and caregivers need to overcome their own interpersonal issues in favor of socializing their children and focus on socialization goals for the children.
Socialization, a skill we use throughout our entire lives, starts in early childhood development. Often, parents, caregivers, and teachers are essential roles in building this skill in kids. There are also a variety of methods parents and caregivers can cultivate socialization in a variety of ways.
In addition to regular, daily socialization efforts, parents can also take their kids to an exciting event every once in a while, such as birthdays and community celebrations. Events are a good opportunity to bring groups of kids together for special activities that may promote more group collaboration and socialization. It can also help you collaborate with other parents and caregivers to build your children’s social circles.
The Importance of Socialization
Early childhood socialization is key in developing many long-term developmental benefits, such as:
- Building empathy;
- Developing language skills;
- Promoting concepts of sharing;
- Promoting concepts of teamwork;
- Building confidence;
- Preparing for school.
In general, early childhood socialization will have a strong impact on a person’s social skills and strategies later in life. Meanwhile, poor socialization can have a wide range of negative impacts on a child’s social development. This could include everything from timidness and poor teamwork to delayed language development and serious disorders such as RAD (reactive attachment disorder), which is a condition characterized by difficulty with social bonds caused by a lack of proper emotional bonding with caretakers.
More severe negative impacts will usually only result from more severe examples of social and emotional isolation. However, even mild issues with early childhood socialization can have notable long-term impacts. To avoid these outcomes, parents, and guardians must expose their children to a variety of situations and people.
Focus on Shared Interests
To maximize success in socializing kids at an event, you should consider any shared interests between the children involved. For example, it may be helpful to consider whether all the children enjoy sports, crafts, popular franchises, etc. This could inform the activities planned for the event or even the overall theme of the event.
You can also build an event based on other previous interests a child may have. For example, if you know a kid enjoys crafts, it may be reasonable to introduce them to a new artistic medium. You can find out more about the individual kids’ interests and personalities and coordinate by discussing with the other parents and caregivers.
Consider the Needs of All Your Guests
The best way to avoid animosity at a social event for children is to make sure each child feels heard, especially regarding their needs. If a child feels like their social, emotional, or mental needs aren’t met at a party, they may feel left out or have an overall crummy time. Notably, you should be aware of any accessibility needs of individual children.
For example, a child with limited mobility could feel left out of activities that involve a lot of movement if accommodations are made for them. Or, a child with sensory sensitivities could become overwhelmed and distressed when experiencing a lot of sensory stimuli. You can avoid these circumstances as a parent by including other parents in a discussion about how you can make sure every child feels included in each activity. In addition, provide multiple backup plans in case anyone feels left out regardless of your preparations.
Organize Guided Group Activities
Guided group activities can not only get children accustomed to functioning within a group but also help them learn how to achieve goals in a group setting. Any group activity can help children better understand social dynamics, but with structure and clear goals, these activities can become more targeted socialization endeavors. Guided group activities can include things like:
- Scavenger hunts;
- Interactive clown performances;
- Wilderness training;
- Team games.
Such activities can also be beneficial in the sense that they can operate with minimal oversight from parents and caregivers — offering a reprieve from the stress of hosting and overseeing a children’s party.
Incorporate Interactive Games
Interactive games are also ideal for promoting socialization. An interactive game is a game where the children supply a lot of personally led insights and actions to achieve their goals. It will also promote interpersonal communication and social activities. Interactive games can vary from anything from sports to charades. Anything that involves significant interaction and collaboration between participants can be sufficiently interactive. Additionally, to bring something new into the mix, it may be helpful to rent equipment for interactive games.
Plan Activities With Shared Goals
By establishing shared goals, children can bond more closely together. While they may have different strategies for working toward a goal, they know they may have to collaborate to create a more effective strategy to reach their desired goal. This teaches children to understand and work with different operating strategies in a social setting. An activity with a shared goal can be something that involves overcoming another team or meeting a particular object. For example, you could ask the children to complete an obstacle course and obtain a prize at the end.
Encourage Imaginative Play
Imaginative play is the expression of creativity through the lens of games or other activities. While this can be done on an individual basis, this type of play can also be done in a group to promote socialization. By collaborating on an imaginative scenario, children can learn to relate to others in an entertaining way and also work with others to develop something new. Imaginative play is an important element in social development.
Although previous studies have been inconclusive on the extent to which play-pretend enhances emotional or cognitive development, one 2023 study found that children who interacted with imaginative activity showcased more social development and skills than those who didn’t. At a party this could like anything from playing with dolls to the “floor is lava.” The more kids get lost in their imagination, they more they can bond with others over their joy. As a parent, it’s important to encourage this kind of play at parties. Not only can it entertain kids for the time being and build future friendships, but it can also benefit them for years to come.