Make children a part of the party
Parties and merry-making are the traditions with which we bid the old goodbye and usher in the New Year. With many families there are no better times to plan to come together more than at this period. Naturally, you look forward to seeing your loved ones, many of whom you have not seen since the beginning of the year or even longer. But for your, child, however, especially a very young one, a gathering of relatives who are mostly adults may be too much for him to cope with.
That party you have prepared him for may be too much to handle because, not only are they adults, but also strangers who want to touch and greet him all at the same time.
But some children may appear to have been born as party animals who take all the fuss in their stride-leaving mummy to go and know why all these people have come together-feasting their curiosity without assistance from you.
But some do feel alarmed at the antics of that aunt who rushes forward at your arrival and, with a pleasant exclamation, tears him out your arms. She greets him with plentiful kisses but baby may not understand the surprise that she feels that he has grown a lot since she saw him last December. He may also cry when she accuses you of only bringing him along only at this year’s gathering, two years after he was born.
As you look forward to see your family to eat, drink and be jolly together, think for one moment that baby may not be prepared for all the fuss which would be made at his being a new addition to the family.
Help him to enjoy the party because if he feels miserable and cries, it may affect your fun. If he cries, they will say that that Molly’s baby cries too much or whisper at your back; if you already have a peculiar reputation among your family members, they will hiss and say “typical, like mother like child.”
But you know that your baby is otherwise a social animal who feels out of his depth at the moment. You know why they are happy to see you; he is your first child, you got married several years back and gave birth two years ago; although they have all been happy at the news but many had not been able to come to celebrate with you. You have not seen any or many of your people in those years. So this Christmas would be the first time that they are seeing him for the first time.
But rather than show keenness with your kinsmen, baby feels unhappy because he is familiar with mother and father and does not like to be taken away by these strangers, or does not feel adventurous enough to explore the new surrounding because the party is taking place in your uncle’s compound and he feels lost.
A child may feel miserable in a party if there is not enough space in which he could move around and not feel stuck in a living room.
Also, even the one who is adventurous enough and likes to move around may cry, if he cannot explore the new surroundings.
As you prepare to leave home; you may be the hosts of the family party-it would be safer to assume that your toddler may need every assistance to be a part of the party and enjoy himself. If he adapts easily, he will look forward to enjoying himself, but if he is like many children who feel overwhelmed by big gatherings, when you have just arrived, keep him close to you-sit him on your lap to face people, not looking away from them. If he is still very young, hold him against your body so he draws from your calm and relaxed breathing. He will feel confident to look around and want to smile at them.
If he is old enough to walk, hold his hand as he tries to wander away and make sure he does not go too far from where you can see him. Bring him back if he tries to go far.
As you arrive, some eager and loving relatives may want to greet him, tell them to wait until he knows that he is in company of people who absolutely adore him; ”Ah! He will cry this house down because he feels afraid and insecure.”
Give him to them after some time when you think they have made themselves familiar with their happy smiles or by holding his hand and patting his cheeks gently and lovingly.
Talk to your bewildered child when others talk to him: “This is Aunty Bunmi”…Explain that the last time Bunmi saw him, he had just been born…”Auntie Bunmi gave you that teddy bear, Aunty Ngozi is your Godmother.”
Take his favourite toy to the party if the party takes place outside your home; his personal toys and familiar things make feel secure enough to leave you free to enjoy members of your family.
But you can build up his interest earlier by creating the mood in your home. Put up a Christmas tree and create a real atmosphere for the coming event and involve the child. Buy firecrackers and make sure the child knows they are used on special occasions. Stress that Christmas is a family tradition that cannot be broken and also explain that they take place on the same date so we could never forget them.
What you do at this time is what makes the child feel secure and safe and he looks forward to Christmas, because he gets to meet other family members.