Ways to stop bullying at parties

Poor behaviour, bad behaviour, naughtiness and bullying – 4 phrases that you do not want to see or have to deal with at a child’s party. But, the sad fact is, that there may be occasion that you will have to handle this and, as the parental host, you are expected to handle it.

No one is going to pretend it is easy – after all, parties are so very exciting for children! –  but there are a few hints and tips that can help minimise the opportunities for this to happen…

The guest list

There is no doubt that many issues and incidences of bullying at parties can be circumnavigated by ensuring the guests list is ‘select and managed’.

If you know your child has issues with others in class, for example, for the sake of harmony, then not inviting these children would be a wise move BUT… if this means leaving one or two off the guest list, is this the right thing to do?

This can present a diplomatic nightmare that many parents face over and over again, across the country. If you decide not to invite them, you need to be aware that this may mean some issues at the school gate or general bad feeling.

Some parents, rather than leaving children ‘out’ of the party, do invite everyone but you can speak to the child or children’s parents and ask that they are made aware that poor behaviour will not be tolerated. You can also ask parents to stay…

Games – competitive or not?

One source of potential conflict at parties are the games that are played. Competitive games have, to a certain extent, fallen out of favour recently and, as the hostess, you are once again walking the tightrope of diplomacy when it comes to making sure everyone gets a fair crack of the whip.

Having small treats and prizes, rather than big offerings can help keep disruption and jealousy to a minimum. Also, being liberal with praise for everybody when playing competitive games is important too.

Whether you play competitive games or not is your choice, but having a mix of games and non-competitive activities also helps keeping a balance to the party atmosphere.

Setting expectations

Sometimes, it seems that no matter what we do, there always seem to be some small guests who have every intention of ruining the whole party. Should this happen, it really helps to remember these few simple things…

  • Encourage your own children to set the standards, with greeting guests as they arrive and making sure they say goodbye to guests as they leave.
  • Parties can be overwhelming and some children cannot handle the emotion known as excitement; when you can see that certain guests are becoming too boisterous, introduce a quieter game or activity to bring the noise level of the party down a notch or two
  • Patience, as they say, is a virtue and you will need to have this in bucket loads on occasion!
  • It always helps to have the help of family and friends at parties too
  • If you know a guest is known to have behavioural issues, ask the parent to stay; if they do not, ask them what is the most suitable thing to do should misbehaviour occur

Flashpoint: opening the presents

Another potential flashpoint that ignites jealousy, is the opening of presents. In most cases, it is considered good party etiquette to open presents once the guests have left. Again, this saves the whole awkward moment when on opening the gifts, the items is not liked/wanted etc.

In summary…

The guest list – it all starts with who you invite; psychologists say that the all-inclusive guest list could be doing more harm than food. Not everyone we meet in life is a friend…

Spotting the signs and intervening – recognising when sugar-fuelled excitement is spilling over in to conflict and poor behaviour… and intervening. Have patience, be fair and consistent.

Games and activities on hand – keeping the party fluid and moving is important too and knowing when to play more boisterous games, and when to play those that slow and quieten the pace is important.

Diversion tactics – competitive games are all well and good, but not everyone has learnt to be a ‘good loser’; make sure you have diversionary tactics such as guests ‘eliminated’ from a game first have the important role of helping decide who was good etc. And remember, small prizes are better that grand gestures…

Asking parents to stay – is something you can do if you know that any guests have issues that may be difficult or unwise for you to handle. If issues arrive, ask them to intervene.

Parties are meant to memorable – for all the right reasons! – and fun; with some planning and fore-thought, your party will go smoothly.