Birthdays are special events because they celebrate life. For kids, however, birthdays are not just celebration milestones, they’re the reason for aging. When you don’t do anything special this year and the next year, they’re ‘stuck’ in being three for years. Absurd, but cute, right?
When Birthdays Increase Aging
In a recent study, researchers explored how children make sense of birthdays, age, and growing old. When asked if one kid received two birthday parties, some children aged under six say that the person gets two extra years on their age. Other kids also claim that one won’t age when there’s no birthday party. Still, some believed that people could get younger when they refuse to celebrate birthdays.
This gives a glimpse as to how young children’s brains interpret the changes that happen in their lives. They seek explanations for being three today, and two yesterday. And it’s natural to gravitate towards the birthday party as the reason because it’s a significant event. In other words, they tend to find a cause-and-effect relationship with ageing.
What This Means for Parents
While the perspective of ‘birthday ageing’ gets corrected over the years, it may present a problem for kids who don’t get to celebrate birthdays through parties. It may also put pressure on you as a parent to always have a grand celebration. One way to address this is to focus not on making birthdays a big thing, but rather a special thing.
For instance, go out to your kid’s favourite museum or amusement park, check out custom cake design online, or surprise them with cake and a new toy when they wake up. Dedicate a nice dinner where all their siblings and both of your parents are present. These are all little ways to celebrate. You don’t have to break the bank doing it, but you’re marking the day as special.
Of course, educating the kids is also important. Explain to them bit by bit the real essence of birthdays — that at its core, it’s a celebration of life. Ease into them the simple fact that it’s not about the parties or the clowns or the balloons or the extravagance. This helps not just in re-orienting perspectives about birthdays, but also their worldview about life in general.
Kids believe the most absurd, yet adorable things. Do your children believe in ‘birthday aging’?