How to Handle Toddlers At Formal Events

Congratulations! There is a special event on your calendar this June, and you are looking forward to attending.
Should you bring your little ones to the event (assuming they are included on the invitation)?

Remember: Small children are incapable of sitting quietly for long periods of time.

Expecting or “hoping” that it happens is taking a big risk.

When their routines for naps, snacks, bedtime and play are disrupted, they tend to become irritable and out-of-sorts. They aren’t being “bad.” This is a normal response to unfamiliar schedules.

What can you do?
1). Consider leaving the children home with a sitter, or engage a sitter to come with you to care for them if they need it.
2). Plan to come for a while and be prepared to leave early.
3). Send a really nice gift and stay home.
4). If you decide to take a chance, plan ahead!

Things to bring:

  • Quiet toys (books, soft animals, fidgets for fingers)
  • Quiet snacks (Cheerios are good, potato chips are not… plus they are greasy)
  • Soft blanket and security objects (lovey, bear, etc.)
  • Water or something to drink.
  • The usual: diapers, wipes, change of clothes.

Other tips:

  • Sit near the front so they can see if you think they are interested.
  • Sit near the back if you want to be ready for a quick exit.
  • Let them sit on your lap or scratch their back.
  • Smile at them a lot (avoid giving the “Stink Eye,” which generally creates distress).
  • Whisper with them and point out interesting things.
  • Play “I spy” or count objects together (e.g. candles in a church).
  • Play hard and enjoy one-on-one time with your child before the event. Maybe she will fall asleep!
  • Stay connected and be patient with their excitement.
  • Make sure YOU are rested and refreshed.
  • Keep your expectations in line for your child and yourself.

Celebrate if everything goes smoothly, and celebrate a valiant effort if it doesn’t. Congratulations!