Celebrating a birthday is a highlight of the year for most kids, but COVID-19 has meant that many haven’t had the big birthday party they may have wanted.

According to data from the ABS, over 700,000 Aussie children under six have missed out on celebrating their birthday due to the pandemic.

Don’t Cancel Their Birthday Party!

“Every parent wants their child to have the best birthday possible, regardless of the current restrictions on social gatherings. Even if you can’t have all your family and friends in one room, it’s vital to mark the occasion with a special celebration your child will remember,” says Shazia Juma-Ross, CEO at Australian kids activities company, Skills and Thrills.

Here’s why it’s still important to throw a birthday party for your child, even with looming COVID-19 restrictions.

Helps children’s emotional development

It is healthy to allow your child to be the centre of attention. At this stage of development, children are learning how to express their feelings and birthday parties offer them a chance to do this. Interacting with family and playing with their peers helps them explore, manage and respond to emotions. Research has shown that not celebrating important milestones can have a negative impact on well-being. This leads to lower self-worth and depressive symptoms, whereas celebrating events boosts kids’ self esteem. Celebrating also provides a source of excitement, to relieve the stress of the COVID-19 situation.

Creates long lasting, unique memories

It won’t be quite like what most children would expect or be used to, however this pandemic can offer children the opportunity to form long-lasting and unique birthday memories. Research has found that celebrating an event is a way to “savour” an experience – which effectively cements it in your memory. Creating positive memories is linked to both higher self worth and life satisfaction. Despite social distancing, you can still host a fun birthday party for your kids. Skills and Thrills recently launched a new birthday parties platform, with COVID-safe options to ensure kids can still celebrate while remaining socially distant. They even have a range of themed virtual parties, with everything from virtual character parties to virtual science parties and even virtual silent disco parties!

Provides a reason to celebrate

Children will be disappointed their birthday plans have changed and they can’t have the big party that they were expecting. This is an added stress on top of the sadness they may be experiencing from missing friends and family they can’t see. Given this, it’s important to make their day as special as possible. Celebrating your child’s milestone, no matter how small the party, will inject significant joy into a time that has been tough for them. It will give them – and their friends – something to look forward to when feelings of excitement have been rare this year, and teach them that it’s okay to enjoy a moment of happiness during a time that has been characterised by devastation for so many people.

Gives them an opportunity to feel connected to their network

Birthday parties allow children to feel connected to their community. Despite having to maintain social distancing rules, they provide an opportunity for children to strengthen relationships with friends and family members that they have missed out on seeing during lockdown periods. At a time when we can’t all physically come together, it’s especially important to remind children they have a network that cares for them.

Shazia Juma-Ross is the CEO and Co-founder of Skills and Thrills, and former global COO at Macquarie. Visit www.skillsandthrills.com.au to learn more.

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