Prepare for parties or other events by previewing what activities might be involved. Go over what might be challenging, such as being served unfamiliar foods or being asked to participate in an unfamiliar game. Listen to your child’s concerns.
Suggest what your child can do when faced with a challenge during the party or event. Explain how much time each activity is likely to last so she can monitor the time and see an end in sight. Do the same kind of preparation for other new activities, such as joining a soccer team or the Girl Scouts.
What you can say
“Sofia, you seem both excited and a little nervous about going to Carly’s pool party next week. Is it because she’s having it in a place you’re not super familiar with? OK, let’s talk that through.”
“She’s having her birthday party at the YMCA pool. That’s where you used to take your swimming lessons. Do you remember how the locker room is right next to the entrance near the shallow end of the pool? Everyone will swim for about half an hour. Then you’ll changes clothes and have pizza and cupcakes in the room across the hallway from the locker room.”
“Let’s drop by the Y on the way home from school tomorrow. We can scope out the area so you remember it on Saturday for the party. Do you think that might make you feel a little less anxious about going to the party?”
Why this will help
Fear of the unknown can cause kids to give up before even attempting to participate. Previewing something new and relating it to successful experiences in the past can ease your child’s anxiety and help her feel more comfortable about making a commitment to at least try out the new activity.