birthday cake with candles for a teachable moment

How to turn a birthday party into a teachable moment

So how do you turn ‘birthday parties’ into an opportunity to teach your child something important.

Teachable moments should be your Number 1 strategy for sex education!

Learn more about what a teachable moment is.

Watch this teachable moment here.

Read the transcription

[00:00:00] How do we turn birthday parties into a teachable moment? Let’s find out.

[Music].

[00:00:13] Hi, I’m Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue. Sex Ed Rescue is all about helping parents become more comfortable with talking to their kids about love, sex, relationships and growing up. Today’s video is how to turn birthday parties into a teachable moment.

So, teachable moments are how to find everyday things around us and turn them into an opportunity to teach our kids a lesson, and birthday parties are a great example. Why are they? Because sometimes, birthday parties can be about secrets. It could be like, ‘We’re having a surprise birthday party, we can’t tell anyone! It’s a secret!’ This then gives you that opportunity to talk about what sorts of secrets are okay to have.

[00:01:05] In our household, we follow a rule that I got from a book on the topic. I love the wording in this one as it says, ‘Secrets can be about surprises and presents.’ Our house rule is that we only keep secrets about presents and surprises, not about our bodies and other things. So, this is a great opportunity to talk to kids about secrets and how if a surprise party is coming up, it needs to stay a secret. An example is my daughter. She would go off and buy me a present and then come home and tell me what it is. I remember thinking, ‘God, can’t we just keep it a secret?’ That’s how buying mum or dad a present is great practice for keeping a secret and an opportunity for you to talk about what sort of secrets do we keep and what secrets we don’t. Birthday parties are also a great opportunity to talk about when we get overexcited, we might act silly. We can ask about, ‘How do you feel about this birthday party? What does your body tell you?’ You can get them to tune in and realize that, ‘I’ve got pins and needles, I feel like I’m falling, and just really excited, I can’t concentrate.’

[00:02:53] We can talk to them about starting to recognize how their body is feeling. Now, this is what is called ‘Inner warning signs,’ or, ‘Inner warning signal.’ Part of protecting and helping your kid is to help them recognize what their body is telling them. So, if they’re in a situation and they’re feeling unsafe they can listen to what their body’s saying and leave. These are lessons that we can start very young, so that makes birthday parties a great opportunity to talk about how we can act silly and crazy. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about the fact that when kids get together, they sometimes do silly things or things they wouldn’t normally do.

You can talk about peer group pressure, about how we could follow the herd or crowd rather than doing what we think is right. We can also talk about how it’s normal and okay for us do silly things that we normally wouldn’t do. My son went to a birthday party recently and there was this nice, cute kid who was well mannered. But this kid went crazy at the birthday party, they gave one kid a black eye, and hurt another kid accidently.

[00:04:09] For me, that was a good opportunity to talk with my son about how sometimes, we do stuff without thinking and people’s behavior changes. Another thing about birthday parties is sometimes you don’t get invited.

Now, even though it’s heartbreaking when your kid comes home and talks about how everyone except them got invited to a party, I think it does need to happen. If they aren’t invited this can help with their resilience, they can learn a lesson. Learning about how we can’t always get what we want in life is important. That, sometimes you don’t even like the kid, you don’t even play with them, and they’re mean to you; so why would you want to go to their party?

[00:03:06] There are so many opportunities to talk about parties, especially when they’re a teenager. The conversations might change because the parties they go to might have alcohol, there might be pretty boys and girls, and if they’re going through puberty, they’re starting to think about people in a different way. They’re starting to have crushes, and something might happen, so we need to start having those conversations.

[00:05:41] I’m sure there are other possible conversations out there, but they’re just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head. I seriously don’t plan for these videos at all, I just have a list about the topic then start the video. I’m sure if I sat down wrote some topics, I’d think of more, but the idea is you see an opportunity, you grab it and talk about it on the spot.

That’s why I don’t like to pre-plan what I’m going to talk about for these opportunities.

I hope that makes sense, Cheers.

About the Author Cath Hakanson

I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.

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