Considering Canceling My Child’s Birthday Party.

Updated on March 24, 2019
J.L. asks from Chula Vista, CA
26 answers

My 7 year old son has been having extreme behavioral issues at school ever since August. It has been a constant on going battle with him either disrespecting the teachers, running through the hallways, putting his hands on other students, and tantrums in the classroom. I’ve taken away iPads, video games, given punishments that’s lasted a week! But he still seems to revert to his old ways after a few days of good behavior. His birthday is in a week and today he was caught looking up “sexy women” on his schools computer that he uses for school work and I’ve had enough. I don’t feel like indulging him with a birthday party. I feel like he doesn’t deserve it but am I taking it too far?

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D.S.

answers from Phoenix on

This doesn’t necessarily sound like behavior that needs more punishment. You need to find out what’s going on with him.
Canceling a birthday party isn’t going to do much positive. I would limit the number of kids and keep it low key however until you can get a handle on what’s driving this behavior. Positive experiences are as valuable as negative ones sometimes.
Talk with his doctor and teacher. He may need to be evaluated.

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J.L.

answers from Portland on

I definitely would not cancel his birthday party. I think that would be traumatic as and confusing for him. I have a seven year old son (soon to be eight) who also has had many behavioral issues, many which I have posted about here. I think you can make it a small party, but please don't cancel. Birthday celebrations can be small but still fun and special.

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R.P.

answers from Tampa on

Absolutley you should cancel! Party, friends gifts are all rewards.. no way would I tolerate bad behavior and disrespect towards teacher and him being told over and over and throw him a party! That’s 100 % tells him do what you want and you will still get a party-that’s ridiculous!

But honestly has he been evacuated? Maybe there are other issues. You should speak to a dr. Lots of luck!

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

This sounds a lot like my son. In kindergarten, he was always getting in trouble. He would lie down in class or under the table. He would get upset about different activities. When he got upset he would yell or shove chairs (with no intention of hurting another student but also absolutely not paying attention to whether or not another student would get hurt). It was horrible.

The teacher met wit the principal and with us and talked about how to help him. She tried all kinds of things and even asked for ideas from the principal and special ed and resource teachers. It helped, but it was still rough. She had a behavioral specialist come in and observe and received some great advice. Still, progress was very slow.

Over the summer before 1st grade I took him to speech (for social skills) and occupational therapy. We even saw a counselor. I met with his first grade teacher and told her everything I could. She also met with his kindergarten teacher. I mean, we were as prepared as we could be for 1st grade.

Every morning when I drove him to school, I said, "I love you! Listen to your teachers! Make good choices!" I tried to be as positive as I could.

I'm honestly about to cry as I type this. Our school worked so hard! The teachers tried everything they could think of. They listened to the experts. They worked with behavioral specialists. I just wasn't enough. Our son needed something different!

Just before Christmas (in 1st grade), the person in charge of special ed called us and told us about an alternative school our son could go to. BEST THING EVER!!! My son needed help. He needed someone who knew how to help him, and he was clearly (after 1 1/2 years of sincerely trying everything we could think of) not going to get that help at our neighborhood school.

Our son is now 10 years old and in 4th grade. He is thriving!!! He has since be diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum (which has allowed us more access to service - insurance wise), but being in the right school has the key to helping him.

Your son is only 7 years old. If he's having these types of behavior challenges, it's incredibly unlikely that it's just him choosing to not behave. There is almost certainly more going on. It could be that he has ADHD or sensory issues. Maybe he has some type of learning disability. Possibly an emotional issue. Please don't take any of this to me, "Oh my gosh, there's something WRONG with your son." I'm only saying, there's most likely an underlying cause, and the best thing you can do for him and try to figure out what that is and how to help him deal with that.

This is not about what you are doing at home. What you are doing at home is going to have very little affect on his behavior at school. This needs to be addressed at school. Meet with his teacher (again, if you have already). Say, "This isn't working. What else can we try?" But really, you're asking, "What else can you (the school) try?"

Ask to have him evaluated for special ed. Don't fear the stigmas. Seeking answers for your son is too important. Talk to your pediatrician. See what evaluations your pediatrician can refer you to. It's time to get to the bottom of this and find out what is having such a huge effect on your son. He shouldn't have to live like this. He shouldn't be so upset at school that he resorts to this type of behavior. Help him.

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You do NOT cancel a child's birthday because of behavior!!!

Your son is screaming for help! He needs to speak to a therapist. Get one scheduled TODAY!!!

Do not withhold your son's birthday!! You can still celebrate HIM!! You're not celebrating his behavior, you are celebrating him!!

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

What a horrible idea.
His birthday should not be attached to his behavior.
It's almost like saying "Gee I'm sorry you were born" instead of celebrating his birth.
You can love your kid without loving some of his choices - and you should tell him that.

It might be that he's just too young/immature to be having a whole lot of access to the devices you give him.
Perhaps he has an undiagnosed behavioral issue - that makes his actions a cry for help.
Talk to your pediatrician and get him evaluated.
It might be that he can't help himself - so you need to find a way to help him.
Maybe it will take meds and maybe it won't - but he must be a very unhappy child if he's landing in trouble all the time.

Limit his device time to 30 min a day or just a short time on a weekend.
Take them away when his time is up.
Reward good behavior - he has to have a way to get back into your good graces.
Instead of taking things away for bad behavior - tell him he's earning his fun time by good behavior.
If he gets 15 min video game time for a good day at school then he'll have an hour and 15 min play time on the weekend if he makes it through a whole week.
If he has a bad day - he doesn't earn his 15 min for that day - you don't take away time he's already earned.
If he earns his perks he'll appreciate it more.

You need to be thinking outside the box to find a way to help him instead of threatening to cancel his birthday party.
That just doesn't solve or help anything.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Have you had him evaluated in the past 7 months? At the school? With the pediatrician? If not, why not? Maybe this is not entirely his fault! Did you ever consider that?

Punishments/consequences have to meet the offense - taking something away at on Thursday for something he did in school on Tuesday makes no sense.

I would knock off the electronics in general, and not make them rewards right now. He can't look up "sexy women" if he doesn't have an iPad or a computer or a phone. Clearly 7 is way too young, at least for many kids.

Get him off screens and into outdoor play.so he can burn off some energy. Consider some martial arts/self control classes

Don't cancel his birthday - just don't do a big party with a bunch of kids if he can't keep his hands to himself. Take him to a movie or a children's museum and to lunch with family only. Not as punishment, but as fun. Yes, he deserves a birthday. Anything else is your frustration at parenting being foisted on him.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Yes, you are. I know you're at your wit's end and are just trying to get through to him, but he's 7. He's a little boy. He's acting out for a reason...is it for attention? Because he lacks impulse control? Something else?

Kids like your son need all the patience, love, and positive attention that they can get. The party might not be a total success as his behavioral issues might carry over even into that setting but go for it anyway. Let him feel special and celebrated on his special day.

And then figure out what's going on. Has he been evaluated by his school? His behavioral problems would obviously interfere with his education or that of his peers. Time spent being disciplined at school reduces his classwork time and ability to access the curriculum and likely is disruptive enough to interfere with the learning of his classmates. Those facts alone are enough to warrant a full evaluation by his school. Request an evaluation by emailing his principal and copying the teacher (or school psychologist or special education director). It doesn't really matter which of those people you send the request to but include two people. They will have 5 school days to acknowledge receipt, 10 school days to send you a request to test and then 30 school days to complete the evaluation. When they send you what they will test, make sure it includes a functional behavioral assessment (FBA), where they observe him in various school settings and record his behavior.

A full school year is far too long for this to go on without figuring out what the issue is. He needs help, not more punishment.

Keep the party as planned and try to have fun with it, and work with the school to get to the root cause of this so that you can all effectively work together to get this under control.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with B.

By not celebrating his birthday at this age can likely do far more damage to his emotional well being. I just think it would be cruel to do that and rest assured... he’d never forget it.

Find other ways to work with him, praise him, have him evaluated if needed.

Don’t take his birthday.

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T.D.

answers from New York on

No. Do not cancel.

In what ways has the teacher and school support staff handled the problematic behaviors?
I ask because I am a building aid. I do not spend more than an hour in any classroom. I see behaviors and their causes. In 2 of my classrooms the problematic child is not really the problem, it's the teachers expectations. ( example a child in kindergarten with a 2 year old mentality consistently in time out for not acting his age and following rules. But he is not mentally capable. Ex. 2 child in kindergarten always in trouble.because he cannot sit still.. Teacher expects all kids in class to be able to sit still for 10-15 minutes and for undiagnosed ADHD kids this could be impossible)
So knowing what school says about the child will help you to understand why he is acting out. My classes are primarily kinder. But I also deal with first grade and some second grade.

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

What do the teachers say? What have they suggested or tried? Have they recommended any formal evaluations or testing? Does he behave like this at home? If the behavior is extreme, I would have a plan than included more than taking electronics or parties away. It sounds like he is struggling in some way and these are cries for help. If the school is not offering any help, seek his pediatrician first and go from there. Perhaps he needs assessments or therapy. It is clear punishments are not helping the root cause of what is going on with your son. Help him instead of seeking more ways to punish him. If he had a physical ailment, you would try to treat it and not punish him for it. So far you say he has had this issue for 7 months now. How was he before that? Has anything drastically changed in the school or at home? It's time for you to figure this out.

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D..

answers from Miami on

For heavens sake, get your child some help. Ask the ped to send you to a child psychologist. Do it now.

Pick a type of birthday party that your son can be most successful at. If that means a small group of friends rather than the whole class, do that.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

You don't say what you've done other than to punish him (which doesn't really ever work). Taking away a birthday will just punish him more. It will also kind of scar him.

We once had to not do a birthday party for one of our kids because of circumstances (we did celebrate it but just not a friend party that year) and I regret it to this day. He wasn't very interested which is why we let it go - but yours wants one, and you've already invited the kids. This will cause embarrassment at school, resentment possibly from kiddos who want to come, not to mention - your kid will just be pissed and upset - and this won't improve the situation.

It's not the way to handle it.

Get him help - psychologist and work with the underlying issue. I would add, removing devices as a consequence - not helpful. Limit time for sure on those things, and make consequences more in line with - when you can be a kind respectful boy, you can come and enjoy these things with the family or have your bud over when you've cleaned up your toys (kind of thing). Make enjoying people's company a reward for being helpful and showing respect to others - if he's not respectful, time out to himself to cool down. Find out why he's losing his cool.

It's not typical.

Limit sugar, make sure he's getting enough sleep, exercise, and limit devices.

Good luck.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I would definitely not take away the birthday party. He only turns 7 once...celebrate that and don't let his behavior mean you are angry and take that away. Definitely start trying something different from now on...punishments are not working. Get him evaluated for all you can. Physical and mental. ADHD. Autism spectrum. Sensory processing issues. Get him a good therapist too that can work with teaching him ways to handle his very strong feelings. It sounds like he truly can't control himself. He is learning. He is a work in progress. He needs to learn the tools to deal with things. Punishing him probably is not helpful. Good luck.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

well, you've certainly tried punishments long and hard, and so far it seems as if they haven't worked at all.

you know the definition of insanity, right?

he's a very young fellow, and my guess is that being this out of control is very scary for him. he doesn't have the tools to manage his impulses, and the only 'help' he's getting is a constant stream of punishments.

it's not that i don't feel for you too- i certainly do. you sound exhausted and exasperated and desperate, and my heart goes out to you. 7 year olds should be more a source of joy than frustration, and it doesn't sound as if you like yours much at this point.

but anger and punishments aren't going to fix this. if they could, they would have already.

celebrating a birthday isn't an indulgence. it's an actual celebration, of the world being a better and brighter place because your little guy is in it. i can't imagine any circumstances under which showing him that he's not worth it would be helpful.

if the school hasn't offered up anything in the way of help, evaluations or counseling for this clearly frantic young fellow, it's time for his mom to step up. put your own mask on first- you certainly need some support and advice from a professional yourself in how to manage your own exhaustion and frustration parenting your little whirlwind. but he needs more than what you've tried so far, and more doesn't mean harsher. it means more professional and in-depth.

where's his dad in all this?

khairete
S.

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L.H.

answers from Abilene on

I can understand your frustrations but taking away his party is a bad idea. You’re grasping for anything to get his attention since your previous punishments don’t seem to have made a lot of difference. When our kids are the hardest to love, is usually when they need it the most.

Time to seek professional help. Whether that’s evaluation/testing or whatever it looks like. You’re drowning and you need help to understand your son and how to be effective in his direction. He needs the correct tools to be successful. Working with someone who is removed from the situation can give you a fresh prospective and I’m betting it won’t take very long until you’ll figure out what will work and implement it.

Ask teachers for direction. Explain what’s happening to his pediatrician. Do not believe your boy is bad. He’s having a hard time right now. You would get him glasses if his vision was off. Please get him help sooner than later. Behaviors become harder to correct the longer they’re left unchecked.

Good luck!

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, J..

It sounds as if your son needs to speak to a psychologist and therapist,.

Seven year old's typically do not look up "sexy women" - so I would wonder if your son has been sexually assaulted and is taking his anger and frustration out over it with these outbursts.

I wouldn't give him a party, but I would acknowledge his birthday with a special dinner and a cake of his choice. NO party. No friends over, etc.

I'm surprised the school hasn't recommended your son be evaluated for ADHD or some other issue. If they have? You really should get him evaluated. Your son is screaming for help and you are not listening to him.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

First of all J. you need a hug and encouragement because you are making efforts to help your son. Please ignore the mean negative comments on this stream. Take the positive suggestions about getting him some outside help with professions, counselors, psychologists, testing. You clearly love your little boy or you wouldn’t be trying to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with you canceling his birthday party and celebrating his birthday in a low key way as suggested previously. Because it is a blessing that he came into this world. Keep your head up, take a short break away from him if you can to pamper yourself, and relax your mind and emotions. Then get back to work with finding you both some professional help to get to the root of his actions. I will be praying for both of you. Please come back and share the progress he will make.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

At age 7, his continuing behaviors are not typical. What your son needs is a comprehensive neuropsych evaluation to determine whether there is a deeper reason behind his behaviors. If so, then you will be able to get him the interventions he needs and will also learn strategies for how to be an effective parent under those circumstances.

Taking away his birthday party (as a whole) is neither a natural nor logical consequence. It may appease your desire to regain control, but it doesn't teach or guide. It is hard sometimes to not react out of emotion, especially when you're at the end of your rope, but keep trying.

Now that said, you may want to think carefully about what kind of party you have planned. If he has a hard time handling certain situations and environments, you'll want to avoid placing him in those situations until he has learned how to cope. Perhaps changing to something smaller and low key will be to your mutual benefit.

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Z.B.

answers from Toledo on

I used to think that kids who behave like this were behavior problems with lazy parents. Thank God I've matured since then!!!

Most of the time when kids have trouble behaving at school, they are having trouble with something. Some of them have not had much experience in a structured environment (like preschool or daycare), so they just take a little time getting used to things. Most kindergarten teachers know to expect this and are ready to help those kids adjust.

When things do not get better after a few weeks or even a month or two, it's time to look for reasons why.

This is not your son's fault, and this is not your fault. Something is causing him to not be able to cope with what is going on at school. Even if you were qualified to discover what was causing someone else's kid to have these types of trouble, you would not be qualified to do that for your own.

My point being, you need to ask for help. I'm actually shocked that your son's teacher has not realized this, as well. Your son's teacher should have already enlisted help from other professionals and probably recommended your son be evaluated by the special ed team.

7 year olds don't act out because they feel like being disruptive. They act out because they don't know how else to deal with everything that's going on. He needs someone to help him.

You are not a bad mom, and he is not a bad kid. He just needs someone to help him figure things out.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Don’t cancel the party, get him some help. All behavior is communication, so the question for you is what is he communicating?

He could have an undiagnosed learning problem, sensory processing problem, or language delay. Maybe he’s being bullied at school? Maybe he’s being sexually abused by someone at home or at school? It is very unusual for a child that young to be searching for “sexy women”. This is not a discipline issue, this is a little boy who is struggling. Try to imagine what it would feel like to not be able to control your impulses.

Celebrate his birthday and your love for him. Have confidence that you will be able to help him, and he will be able to learn what he needs to behave well.

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

tell us how you would have felt at the age of 7 if YOUR mom canceled YOUR birthday party? Would that not just scream "I am sorry you were born"???!

DO NOT EVER cancel a birthday party because of behavior. EVER.

Your son needs professional help. He is SCREAMING for help. Get it for him. DO NOT DELAY

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B.A.

answers from Minneapolis on

His Birthday Day Party really has nothing to do with school behavior so I don’t think canceling it would do anything for him. I am hearing your frustration with his behavior in even thinking about punishing him in this way. It sounds like it is time to seek professional help and advice with that. So go ahead and celebrate his being born but keep the party low key and something he can get excited about.

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S.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Your 7 year old is clearly struggling. Somehow the school and you are not connecting with him where he is at. Time outs, in my view are not helpful. It is a " time in" that is helpful. The child doing the hitting or biting is struggling with understanding and processing their feelings. Your son doesn't want to throw tantrums or have a negative reputation. He seems to be struggling with processing his multiple feelings and the concept of feeling more than one feeling at a time.

My recommendation is to hug your son and ask to start over. Throw him the party and let him know that you will be there for him to start the year a new. If during the party he is disruptive or harmful during those times and only during those times remove him or contain him (in a hug - not a separate room).

There are controls on computers and phones that block sites that are inappropriate for children. I suggest you put them on all of the devices. Your son should not have access to devices without parental supervision and even then ideally only for limited amounts of time and limited activities which you have reviewed (for ex. homework etc.).

It would likely be helpful for your son to be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine what factors may be negatively impacting him and help him accordingly. Your family may benefit from family therapy but only after he has been in treatment for approximately 6 months. This is so that he can better learn to identify his experiences and be able to communicate them in palatable ways. If there is a younger sibling this may have contributed to his behavior. Try to understand where he is coming from and what he may be struggling with. Also try to breathe and acknowledge that you are doing the best that you are able and no one is to blame for the way he expresses his struggles.

Sincerely,
S. G., MD
Board Certified Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatrist

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I always recommend karate for kids who have trouble like yours seems to be having. It teaches respect, self defense, and it poops them out! My son started when he was very little because he was impulsive, active, and loud. He went 3 days a week for years. Maybe sign him up and see how it goes.
Don’t cancel his birthday, just keep it small.
YMMV

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Not celebrating his birthday could be telling him he shouldn't have been born.

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