Family Life


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How to Handle Challenging Party Guests (Both Kids and Parents!) with Grace

Party Guests

From unruly kids to overcritical parents, there’s bound to be a challenging guest or two at your child’s birthday party. Read on for tips and tricks on how to handle these personalities.

You know exactly what we’re talking about when we refer to “challenging party guests:” The parent who stands on the sidelines and makes snide remarks, the child who gives a running commentary on everything they dislike, the family who arrives with all of their kids instead of just the child who was invited. Don’t get annoyed—employ a few of these tips and sail through the annoyance, to ensure your event goes off without a hitch.  

Dealing with Challenging Kids

1. Be clear on the rules before the party starts: Once all of the children have arrived, gather them together to communicate the party’s guidelines. You can tell them where to find the bathrooms, when the food will be served and any other ground rules for the next couple of hours. Make sure all of the kids and parents in attendance are present for this chat, so everyone knows what behaviour is expected.  

2. Aim to keep everyone busy: Bored kids are way more likely to misbehave, start arguments and wander off than kids who are engaged in an activity. Have a plan for entertainment—games, crafts, a performer if budget allows—as well as some quiet activities like colouring or reading picture books for kids who don’t feel like participating. 

3. Many hands make light work: Make sure you have a good adult-to-child ratio going (yes, you’re totally a superhero but even superheroes need sidekicks). Ask a few responsible friends or family members to attend the party as additional supervisors; having extra sets of eyes and pairs of hands will help to make challenging behaviour easier to manage.  

4. Stay calm and party on: It’s easy to become flustered when dealing with difficult kids, but your composure is critical. If you can respond to situations calmly and firmly, difficult kids will know who is in charge. There is one caveat, though: If a tiny guest is overly disruptive and you’re spending all of your time focused on managing that behaviour, rather than enjoying your child’s party, you’re well within your rights to call the parents to come and pick up their kid. 

Dealing with Challenging Parents

Be clear about party expectations on the invitation: The key to nipping challenging situations in the bud before they even start is effective communication. Make sure that the parents of your child’s friends are clear on start and end times, the type of activities you’ll be doing, whether food and beverages will be provided, and if parents and siblings are invited to stay. This will avoid any awkwardness, misunderstanding or disagreements on party day. 

Be the host with the most: Greet parents when they arrive and make an effort to learn their names if you don’t already know them. If they are staying, give them the rundown on what to expect (and offering a refreshment can’t hurt!). If they’re dropping their child off, remind them of the end time and make sure you have their contact information in case of an emergency.

If concerns arise, address them privately: No parent likes to be called out when their child acts out. If you’re concerned about the behaviour of a guest at the party, pull the parent aside to have a quiet conversation. Offer solutions to engage the child, rather than engaging in a negative exchange.

Stay true to your vision: It’s your party and you’ll plan as you want to. You may end up with a judgmental audience of parent guests at an event, but don’t be intimidated. Your careful planning will ensure that the party is fun for all of the kids in attendance. Take any suggestions with a grain of salt and only adjust your plans if you agree with the opinion.  

In the end, the goal of any party is to create a fun and memorable experience for the birthday child and their friends. By using these strategies, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenging guests, ensuring that your event remains enjoyable and stress-free for everyone involved.

a man carrying two children

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