According to the dictionary, confidence is “full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing,” so it only makes sense that instilling confidence in our children starts with helping them gain trust in their own abilities. We don’t do this through trophies and empty praise. We do this by teaching them skills that get them through life and watching them flourish under added responsibility.
One way to do this is through party planning. The girls love parties. They’re always trying to talk me into having one. Remember when they put together a 6-month birthday party for Ryan when they were just three and four?
Natalie is especially vocal about wanting to invite people other than our family over to the house. She’s a hospitable extrovert. I accommodate her every once and awhile, but can’t handle having formal playdates often. Enter project confidence.
We know that when kids accomplish a big task they feel more confident. So this time when Natalie came to me with invitations she’d made to host a “Writer’s Club” (complete with menu: “Sandwiches and Lemonade will be served”) and asked when we could have her friends over, I let her run with it.
She’d already completed the first step – making invitations. I wish I had a picture of the butterfly-shaped, handwritten invitations she made. She worked very hard to make them pretty. And had the babysitter help her write them out (Henry and I were on a date). We chose a day during spring break and then she handed them out to her three best friends at school. And wonder of wonders, they all could make it!
I involved her in preparing chicken salad and egg salad for sandwiches.
She made the lemonade all by herself, after I showed her how to figure out how much mix to use.
When she came to me at 9 a.m. on Thursday saying, “There’s nothing to do. And since we cleaned yesterday, I can’t even do that!” I remembered an article I read recently on how to encourage creativity in these moments and said, “Do you have anything you need to do for your party in a few hours? You can decorate and make the drinks.” That’s all it took.
I pulled out my party bin and the kids got to work.Best of all, I found some pencils I’d bought in the Target dollar bin around Valentine’s Day and forgot to give to the girls (I’m notorious for this!). Natalie sharpened up a few to give as favors for her WRITING party. How perfect is that?
The kids were ready about 15 minutes before the guests arrived. Natalie put Ainsley and Ryan in charge of taking care of 1.5 friends each. “When they come to the door, ask them if you can take their coat. Now say that, ‘Can I take your coat?’” She literally walked them through a whole script of welcoming someone into your home, taking their coat, showing them into the party area and offering them a drink. I didn’t have to say a word.
You can do this with any planning your family is doing. The key is to give as much responsibility to the child as possible while teaching those things they are unsure of during the process. Here are some easy guidelines for child-led planning:
True story: While Natalie was peeling the eggs she said, “I hate peeling eggs, why do I have to do this?” And while she was cleaning up, “Why do we have to clean up?” Don’t let these little things deter you in your quest! Answer sweetly knowing that in the long run, your child will have the confidence to throw together a party for her friends.
I LOVE this! My 4 year old (turning 5 in 2 months) is ALWAYS asking to have friends over for “this” party or “that” get together. I never have the energy to do all the work it involves and, to be honest, don’t look forward to hosting all the moms too (I look forward to the age of mom-less playdates…). In the next year or so this will be fun for her to handle all on her own 🙂 Thanks for this great idea!!