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How Stressed Are You Now?

Your child's birthday party should be fun for all involved — including you! But, too often, parents find them stressful and children find them disappointing.

Contributor Robin Goodman, who also is a clinical psychologist, visits The Saturday Early Show to help you make your child's next birthday party just perfect.

  • Age matters. By age 4 or 5, a party will have meaning for the child. As far as how many kids to invite, age plus one is a good guideline. (For instance, for a child who is turning 6, you might invite seven guests.) But, of course, that is not set in stone. You can always have more or fewer at any age.

    The party theme, location and type of entertainment also should be determined by the age of the child. Younger children need a time limit and activity like a magician or pirate theme party. Older children can be more casual, with hanging out and party-friendly food.

  • Remember who the party is for. It's for your child! The goal is for your child to celebrate and to have fun. He should be king for the day, or she should be queen for the day. It's not a competition, not a chance to show off, and it won't make your child popular. Think about creativity rather than simply spending money.
  • Keep it real. This can help parents manage their own stress, as well as the expectations of their children. Don't over-hype the party, and know your children: what they can handle and what they like. A great way to do this: Establish traditions.
  • Be flexible. Balance the "all or nothing" rules, and prepare for the unexpected.
  • Gifts. It's not necessary to open gifts during the party, since the kids already are having fun, and this may not only bore others, but bring up problems like poor manners and jealousy. Consider rationing gifts (to give throughout the year) and teach your kids good manners.
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