This afternoon my youngest son had his seven-year-old birthday party. We had seven little boys at our house for four hours, and I can verify that the high school marching band makes less noise than this pack of wild animals. Telling them to “use Inside voices” was as effective as using a screen door for a hatch on a submarine. Nonetheless, I did not really mind because we always have extra kids playing at our house. The difference with a birthday party, though, are the planned games and activities. Luckily for us, Matthew is a born event planner. He had a list of games and checked them off after completion. He kept the party rolling along. I only had to take pictures, throw stuffed animals at kids on the trampoline, and intercede when disagreements happened.
And, disagreements did happen. However, like high school or any work place, the disagreements seemed to have one constant. There is always someone stirring the pot like the three witches in MacBeth and causing trouble: “Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn and cauldron bubble” (4.1.10-11). Today we had a crier. He pouted and cried to try to get his way when everyone played “Duck, Duck, Goose” and he didn’t want to. He cried when he was the first one out during musical chairs. He cried when he felt someone cheated while playing freeze tag on the highway. He cried because he did not like the way we open gifts. (We play “hot potato” and when the music stops whoever is holding the ball gives his present to the birthday boy.)
How do we deal with such behaviors? First, you confront the person and share that the behavior is unacceptable. The person may need some additional motivation to change. At the party, the other boys ignored the crier. They moved on and had fun without him. He soon realized that if he wanted to be part of the fun, he had to change his behavior.