Extravagant Birthday Parties Bad for Kids, Warn Experts

by Gopalan on  March 31, 2008 at 11:56 AM Lifestyle News
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Extravagant Birthday Parties Bad for Kids, Warn Experts
Ostentation is any day bad. But extravagant birthday parties could be particularly bad for girls.

It is sexualisation of children, pressure to be hot, be sexy, be "celebratised," be cool and be successful. It is not healthy, Australian experts warn.

Spray tans, manicures, pedicures and facials are just a few of the indulgent birthday treatments being enjoyed by girls as young as four and five.

Organizing designer parties is good business these days.

Miss Princess Parties, for instance, is the latest customised beauty salon pitching itself at girls aged 5-12 - but according to founder Troy Thompson, the concept is harmless.

"It's about girls being little girls," he said. "It's not about growing up."

Yet the cost of party packages starts at $495, with parents paying as much as $930 for their daughters to indulge in some pampering, says Jenny Ringland, writing in the Sunday Telegraph.

This is only one of the increasingly-expensive children's party plans on offer in Melbourne where designer birthday cakes regularly sell for as much as $2500.

One local operator, targeted at the under-10 demographic, organises martial art combat for $250, while for a price tag starting at $420, budding pop stars can enlist the service of a personal music producer to record a CD for the birthday girl or boy.

And for a mere $4000, young party hosts can have a carnival installed in their backyard featuring jumping castles, pony rides, side show games, merry-go-rounds and laughing clowns.

Kids Free 2B Kids director Julie Gale is wary of the advent of such extravagant activities for children.

"It's the shrinking of childhood, it's time to pull the reins in a bit and let kids be kids," she said.

According to Gale, parents are feeding into a vicious cycle. A cycle driven by the commercial dollar rather than by the welfare and enjoyment of children.

"It's adults putting adult values onto kids," she said.

"It's the adultification of youth for the sake of commercial enterprise. Girls as young as 12 and 13 are going into beauty salons and requesting Brazilian waxes. There's pole dancing as fitness for kids, where does it end?"

Sydney mother Sandy King recently held a Miss Princess birthday party for her nine-year-old daughter Olivia.

She denies her daughter and friends were exposed to an environment they are too immature to understand.

"I just had the basic package and it was fun. It's a bit like a fantasy land, like taking your daughter to Disneyland," she said.

"I wouldn't allow my child to have a spray tan or blow dry though, I think that's too provocative."

According to Joe Tucci from the Australian Childhood Foundation, parents should be aware of the potential downside of such elaborate celebrations.

"We're trying to turn kids into something they're not. It's an undermining message," he said.

"We keep creating this desire in children to have the best thing and if you don't have it, you don't fit in. We're creating a generation that measures themselves on what they have rather than who they are."

He advises parents to try to resist the temptation to engage their children in adult activities.

"Get creative and think of activities that will nurture them and protect their innocent nature. Kids don't care about elaborate parties, they just want to have a bit of fun."

Source: Medindia

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