Formal events scubas weddings, christenings, and so on can be stressful for children. But if you know what to watch out for, you can prevent behaviour problems before they escalate. We have a look at seven triggers for children at formal events.
While some couples decide not to invite children to weddings, many do, and you want your kids to enjoy the day, but if they’re having to sit still throughout long ceremonies and formal dinners in stiff and uncomfortable clothing, fancy shoes, they can quickly get irritated, bored, and could verge towards a tantrum or meltdown.
What do to: Focus on making your child comfortable, not picture-perfect. Choose clothing make from natural fibres such as cotton, ensure that any scratchy labels are removed, and the clothing fits properly.
Church services, long dinners complete with long-winded speeches can feel impossibly long for kids - and some adults! - when they’re expected to sit still and keep quiet.
What to do: Bring along some small, quiet toys for them to play with, a book to read, and try to sit near an exit so you and your child can take breaks without disturbing people.
Some kids need their personal space, and some events can be full of relatives who want to hug, shake hands, and dance with them. Kids sensitive to touch may recoil from physical contact.
What to do: Role play interactions with family and friends before the event. It will demonstrate to your kids what greetings may look and feel like. If your child is uncomfortable with casual touches - and this is of no fault of their own - encourage them to smile, wave, and make eye contact during hellos and conversation.
Kids may feel anxious and get restless if they’re just told to quietly go along with what’s happening. They might not understand the sequence of events at a religious service, for instance.
What to do: As in the previous point, practice some role play and talk to your child about what will happen on the day: the locations of the events, the schedule of the day, who will be there, how everyone - not just the children - will be expected to behave. During the day, remind your child of what is coming next.
A noisy room can be a lot for children who are sensitive to bright lights and loud noises, particularly if they have difficulty focusing.
What to do: Bring headphones or earplugs, and quiet solo activities such as colouring books will allow your child to retreat and be happily occupied. You may want to consider cutting your day short, as it could be better than staying and your child feeling miserable.
While some kids have no trouble talking at length about any topic, it can be scary for some to have to talk about themselves with family and relatives they do not know very well, causing them to clam up.
What to do: Practice conversation basics and conversation starters with yourself and siblings, as well as friends. Make a game of it at dinner at home - all pretending to be at a formal event. If you are not sat with your child at the event, let them know they can come and find you if they feel overwhelmed.
Meals are a major part of most formal events. For kids who are picky eaters or who have sensory challenges or allergies, unfamiliar food can be a trouble spot.
What to do: Pack and bring what you know your child can eat. Encourage your child to try what looks interesting, but don’t force it. A big day isn’t the right time to insist your child try something new.
Remember to praise your child for good behaviour, and even simply for trying their best, and if you’re looking for children's occasion wear, visit our online store today.