Recently my daughter has been invited to a seemingly unending stream of birthday parties. While she could not be more excited, I have to be honest: I usually dread taking her to them. I know she has fun, but it just seems that there are better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than going to the Jump Zone with 20 of your closest friends. But after this last party, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This past weekend I had my eyes opened to the beautiful social experience that is a child’s birthday party. I took time to truly observe my daughter and it was an amazing. I learned some things I already knew: she is fiercely independent; she wants to lead, not follow. She isn’t afraid to be the only one doing something. If others follow, that’s great, but, if not, she won’t be stopped. I also learned some things I didn’t know: she is a good friend. One of the parties was a rolling skating party and it made me so proud when she tried to teach some of the others how to skate. She was patient and kind as she tried to help. She also truly enjoyed watching her friends open their presents. She wasn’t jealous; she was excited for them.
But before you begin to think that all was rosy, I also observed some behaviors that need some work… again, some were familiar, others eye-opening. First and foremost, when my daughter is tired, she’s crabby! I’m going to file this observation away for future use, particularly, the tween years. Secondly, while she is fiercely independent, she needs to learn that there are times when, as a friend, you should join the group and play along. She only wants to do what she wants to do. Not always a good recipe for making and keeping friends.
These might seem like trivial observations but I don’t believe they are. As a parent, you really are a child’s first and best teacher. The more you know and understand about your child, the better equipped you are to help nurture and guide them as they grow and mature.
So the next time you take your child to a birthday party, instead of dreading the experience like I did, immerse yourself in your child’s world and see what you can learn from and about them. I am so glad I took the time to truly observe my daughter in action.