Survival guide: when your child is participating in a ceremony
Major public ceremonies can be very stressful for parents and children. Obviously, I can only generalise (as each event, let alone each child, is different), but here are a few words of advice that may be of benefit for an occasion when your child is actually participating.
- Try and keep the changes of routine to a minimum. The occasion may involve a fair bit of travel and even hotels, but do what you can to keep mealtimes and sleep close to what she is used to.
- Bring favourite toys to provide comfort and, to avoid boredom, books etc. for the ceremony, according to age.
- Feed her healthy foods (and definitely not sugar or fizzy drinks shortly before the ceremony). Make sure sensible drinks (preferably not carbonated or very sweet) are on hand.
- Your cherub may well be nervous about his role in front of a lot of strangers. A rehearsal is often beneficial. If you can arrange it in the room or hall itself, then so much the better. If he can practise with props that he may need for the ceremony, better still. Take him through everything slowly, clearly and, most of all, patiently.
- Be relaxed – if you are uptight, you will definitely communicate this to your child, and his performance will suffer. Smile a lot and encourage her!
- If only one of your children is participating, make sure you show appreciation to the other(s) and make them feel valued.
- If your child refuses point-blank to participate, it may be best to go with the flow, accept it and warn the adults concerned. Don’t encourage a scene by forcing him to participate after all or by having a go at your child for letting everyone down.
Most guests will be tolerant of any slip-ups committed by your child, and most will be full of congratulations afterwards, even if not all will have gone strictly to plan! So relax!
If you enjoy the occasion, then your child almost certainly will too. Give plenty of praise where possible, and have a lovely time.
Remember: things are rarely as bad as you think they’re going to be!