Hyperactivity and kids parties

kids parties

Up until my son was about 13 years old, I absolutely dreaded receiving invitations for him to attend a classmate’s birthday party.

Let’s face it, kids parties can be a veritable minefield of pseudo-politics and who-is-cooler-than-who. I was not much into mingling with people I didn’t already know though, so none of that worried me. What I worried about was leaving my ADHD son at a party, not so much as unsupervised as unprotected!

At one point after my son’s ADHD diagnosis and before we started medication we were trying a form of an exclusionary diet- no sugar, caffeine, colourants, trans-fats or preservatives, lots of green vegetables, lots of added vitamins and fish oils… Apart from the fact that my son was never a big eater and this diet made our lives miserable, it also meant that there was nothing he was “allowed” to eat if he went to a party. I eventually adopted the “everything in moderation” approach to food, but in that time often turned down invitations rather than have to lecture my son on what he could or couldn’t eat.

The thing is though, whilst the myth prevails that sugar makes kids hyperactive, countless studies have been done to show that this is in fact not the case. If there’s anything that can and does affect some children’s level of hyperactivity and attention it’s the artificial colourants and sweeteners! And the setting of a party with entertainment and noise laid on is going to give any child the impression is that- for the time being- excitement is not only okay but expected. Can you imagine little Johnny’s mom’s disappointment if the kids at her son’s party behaved the way they are expected to do in a classroom situation?!?

That aside, my son was painted with the naughty brush very early in his school career and I found- to my dismay- that he was being watched like a hawk, by parents and children alike, for the slightest sign of aberrant behaviour! Never mind the fact that he was at a kids party and surrounded by colour, noise, other excited children and all kinds of entertainment, he was not allowed to get excited or run or shout. If he did so, then he was hopped up on sugar and “obviously” hyperactive and out of control. It broke my heart that my son was the one expected to be calm and compliant no matter the surroundings.

I implore you and I challenge you as adults- whether you have children or not- that when you are next hosting or attending parties for children, you keep the setting in mind before you brand any child with the hyperactive label. When they’re at a party, you want them to be happy. You want them squealing with excitement at the petting zoo. You want them gasping at a magic act and volunteering to be disappeared. You want them laughing on a jumping castle.

A party just wouldn’t be the same without all the giggling and excitement now would it!?

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Angel Conradie

Angel Conradie

Angel Conradie loves her cellphone, camera and notebook; has 8 tattoos, 5 cats, 2 dogs and an ADHD son. She believes she is married to the most wonderful man, bakes for a living,

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6 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing this post. Made me all weepy.

    We are still at the point where we avoid parties (especially if we can’t go with) like the plague. I battle to have to lecture and remind him of XYZ ALL THE TIME when we are at a party.
    I made a comment on Marcia’s blog yesterday about the fact that we only go to people that we know. I don’t want to put him in a situation where people will watch and/or talk about him, especially if they don’t know him.

    I have to say though that my son is definitely not ill-mannered at parties. He is just EXTREMELY LOUD. But, I guess that is to be expected.

  2. I agree – giggling and noise are part and parcel of the party! Eating yummy cakes are too. Kids making a noise at a party and having fun – that’s a sign of a really LEKKA party and fun being had by all! Rough-housing and getting bruises – that’s just boys!! The odd toys getting broken, that’s normal too with a house full of excited kids.
    I have 4 kids, I have 5 grandsons. I love a kids party to this day – in fact I hire jumping castles and slip ‘n slides for my own parties.
    Enjoy the kids while they are kids, let them BE kids ……. all too soon they are adults.

  3. Hi Angel, This article hits home, the whole buzz of the party becomes so much that my ADHD son can’t sleep for deep into the night. But to see his little face when at the party = PRICELESS. He usually finds his twin brother(ADD) somewhere in his shell like a typical ADD kid watching from outside(Tortoise like behaviour) And all foods in moderation is what keeps all kids balanced.

  4. Kids parties are just that – a time for a kid to be a kid.
    As Adults we will jump at an opportunity to jump on the jumping castle or run wild with the kids (or at least I do). I could not agree with you more.

    The kids now days have so much extra pressure on them and are so quick to be labelled, we need to allow them to just be kids.

    What a lot of parents (especially those who do not have kids with ADD) do not realize is that when they leave their kids at other peoples homes for parties – Their kids are going to behave in exactly the same way that the ADD kids behave – they are going to eat whatever is on offer, run wild, scream, and most importantly HAVE FUN!!!

    Our ADD kids are what make the parties unforgettable, and not in a negative way. As a mom who has a child with ADD and who has ADD herself – BRING ON THE PARTY.

  5. I am in the same situation. I hated going to parties wondering what would go wrong and spark an incident with my ADHD son. He has also been painted with the naughty brush and it has always being upsetting for me to have parents make comments not knowing the situation but this year I have decided not to take any notice as he is a very bright popular boy. If you take the time to give him an invitation then he is coming and he is going to be who he is… I had large all out bashes for both my kids last year and it was the most successful and well attended party of his class – so he can’t be all that bad then

  6. Julia: ah yes, I hear you on only going to visit people you know.

    Glen: too right! They grow up so fast!

    Zahraa: it is indeed awesome to see our kidlets enjoying themselves!

    Lindy: You are so right! Parents forget that their children very likely turn into over-excited hooligans when they’re not around!

    Beverley: LOL, it often happens that our ADHD children are very popular because they are easy going and don’t hold grudges…

    Hey all,
    Perhaps you can develop a strategy that will enable you to use party situations as a training ground for your ADHDer? We know they react badly to jokes and sarcasm, often taking them personally rather than finding them funny, and they don’t read body language very well… Maybe a party setting is somewhere you can practise drawing your child’s attention to over-the-top behaviour WITHOUT embarrassing him (or her) or letting everyone else see that there’s an issue being addressed?

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