Handing Out Party Invitations At School: Should It Be Banned?

10 October 2015

Birthday party invitations

It's not surprising that parents reacted less than favourably when a school in Northern Ireland banned children from handing out party invites at school.

The Yorkshire Post reports:

"A PRIMARY has slapped a ban on children distributing birthday invitations in school. Parents have reacted with anger after St Mary’s on the Hill Primary School in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, sent a letter home with pupils on Tuesday, October 6 stating that invitations to children’s birthday parties should not be distributed in school time."

The school's Acting Principal wrote in the letter:

"We understand that school is the most convenient forum within which to distribute invitations to parties, however we would ask that you issue invitations to children outside of school time, as it can cause upset and disappointment to some children if they don’t receive an invitation. We hope you understand this situation and we appreciate your consideration in this matter.”

She also said:

"This decision was taken with the children’s best interests at heart, and we hoped that the parents would view it in that context. We hoped that people would understand that whilst in principle school provides a convenient forum within which to distribute invitations, in practice it can be the cause of children feeling upset and feeling left out when they are not invited to parties. We only ever have the children’s welfare at the centre of all of our decisions.”

Now I'm aware that I might not get much support for this perspective, but I can totally understand why the school did this. If your child has never been the one left out when the party invitations are shared around in the playground then it might seem like a gross over-reaction. But when my child was the only one in his circle of friends not to come home clutching the most sought-after birthday party invite of the year when he was younger, I momentarily wished that our Principal would ban handing out party invites at school. (Funnily enough, my kid was fine about it. It's my feelings I was trying to protect!)

Yes, of course it's important that our kids learn to handle disappointment graciously, and I have some sympathy for the argument that it's our job as parents to help children to do so, and that by simply removing their awareness of disappointing situations (i.e banning party invites at school) we risk depriving them of the all-important opportunity to grow through those disappointments.

But actually I think this situation is less about wrapping kids in cotton wool to protect them from life's disappointments. I suspect it's more of an effort to combat the thoughtless and sometimes even outright unkind acts that sometimes fly under the radar when kids are allowed to exclude other kids in this way.

Personally, I'd gently suggest that my kid invite the left-out kid to his party rather than risk excluding someone, but not everybody thinks that way. And if banning party invites at school is what it takes to protect vulnerable kids from feeling like Billy-no-mates, then I'd support it.

After all, it's not as if party invites have to be handed out in school time, so would it really hurt to ask parents to do so with more tact and diplomacy. I'm all for teaching my kid to deal with disappointment in life but I'd also like to let them be kids for as long as possible, and that means not exposing them to needlessly embarrassing or uncomfortable situations.

What's your view on this? Do you understand the school's decision to ban kids from handing out party invites at school, or do you think it's an over-reaction? Come and tell us over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parents

4 comments

  • lNnyx3
    It's a hard one to call, it is upsetting when your child doesn't receive an invite. But I don't know a lot of my daughters friends parents and some days I don't see them at all as we have a 20 minute drop off period and obviously there are after school clubs etc etc. So if not allowed to give out in school then when are we going to do so? Last year for my little girls party I asked school to place the invites in bags/book bags so they weren't any upset to those not invited. they combine nursery and reception into one unit at my daughters school so inviting 60 people was not an option.
  • olivia280177
    I gave out my daughter's invitations at school, I don't see these people anywhere else and don't know where most of them live. I did try to do it discreetly, just in case, and in actual fact I gave them to the parents once the children had gone into school. We also didn't invite everyone as we don't have the room or money. I know of other parties that Melody hasn't been invited to and she hasn't been bothered and nor have I, people have different friends. We've often had to turn down invitations due to holidays and other arrangements and equally Melody has understood. She's just turned 6. Obviously if everyone invites all but one same child that's different but I doubt that happens.
  • kezelli1
    Its such an easy thing to deal with, at our school the invites are handed to teacher and she puts then into childrens schools bags when they are in lesson learning.The children don't then get them in their hand and other children that didn't receive one can not get upset. They will probably still find out that they were not invited when they rerurn to school and the kids are talking about the party they attended. Such an easy thing to sort, don't hand them out with all the kids around you, no one can get upset then.
  • Mumoftwo

    Parents should try and be sensitive in the way invitations are distributed. In some situations handing out invites in the school grounds will not cause upset to children and not being invited to everything is part of life. Eg a 10 year old who has a close knit circle of friends. However I don't think 4&5 year olds are emotionally developed enough to deal with the type of disappointment they experience by being excluded. Likewise the 4 or 5 year old handing out the invites have not developed their empathy skills enough to hand out invitations in a sensitive way. They just don't recognise that their actions have left another child upset. My 4 year old recently witnessed a friend of hers hand out invitations and she didn't get one. She has expressed her disappointment and anger and I've had to comfort her and try my best to explain the situation. Wrongly my first relation was to excule this child from any of my daughters parties, just so her mother can have the same horrible experience! I won't do that as child is only 4(nearly 5) and it's not the child's fault. Alot of parents say children need to experience this to toughen up, however it's avoidable upset, and I wouldn't let my child hurt themselves in a playground if I could avoid it.  Being excluded is tough for adults to deal with and defiantly is not something that gets easier the more times you experience it. It's a shame that not all parents use common sense and are sensitive. It shouldn't have to be a school rule, but if parents can't be considerate then I think the school is right to make it a rule.  

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