Why Celebrating Children’s Birthdays Is So Important, According to a Study

Family & kids
2 years ago

When a child’s birthday approaches, some parents often get excited and prepare in advance to celebrate the occasion. But there are also parents who prefer to save all the expenses involved in throwing a birthday party and decide not to hold a celebration at all. Doing this could be counterproductive.

Bright Side wants to share this article with you that talks about the importance of celebrating the birthday of little ones and encourages parents to not lose sight of their sense of joy.

To have or not to have a party

Yes, everything has changed. What we used to consider a simple birthday celebration has now become the development of an entire theme party, with over 50 guests, personalized candy tables, and expensive decorations that will probably end up in the trash. However, Dr. Jacqueline Woolley advocates the importance of celebrating birthdays in a meaningful way, since children, like adults, seek explanations for personal events.

The importance of celebrating a birthday

Dr. Woolley conducted a study between the concepts of age and birthdays in young children. For the research, 99 American children between the ages of 3 and 5 were examined. The procedure was simple, as they were all presented with the same scenario: 3 2-year-old children were about to turn 3 years old. The first one was able to have a party, the second one was not, and the third one had a party, but in 2 parts. The volunteers were then asked to indicate how old each child would be. The results revealed that many of them said that the one who had not had a party would still be 2 years old, and they also responded that the one who had 2 parties would be 4 years old.

More than just math...

Dr. Woolley’s tests revealed that, for preschool-aged children, the annual experience of the seemingly sudden change from one time to another is of great importance: since there is no obvious or immediate physical cause, as with other types of changes, children consider a birthday party to be a regularly occurring, growth-enhancing event.

The advantages of celebrating a birthday, according to developmental psychology

Dr. Woolley believes that if for a 4-year-old, the purpose of a party is to turn 5, then it’s the celebration that counts. So parents might also consider the following advantages of these events:

  • They raise their self-esteem. When a child feels celebrated, they also feel loved and meaningful in their family role. Their birthday becomes important in their parents’ lives.
  • They strengthen family bonds. Having family traditions is positive. No matter what the size of the celebration is, what is relevant, is the sense of being together to celebrate something special.
  • They establish social relationships. Inviting a couple of friends, grandparents, or the whole family to a birthday party helps the child to relate better through feelings of companionship and kindness.
  • They create positive memories. A study of preschool memories says that most childhood memories are not really memories, but rather a memory created from a lot of data collected from different sources in an unconscious way, like sensations, smells, and music. So, creating memories from a celebration can be something really meaningful.
  • It helps them to have a perception of time. Children are not aware of their growth if not through others. That’s why birthdays are a great way for them to discover the process of growing up.

The celebration doesn’t necessarily have to be ostentatious.

Some parents may feel pressured to celebrate their child’s birthday. However, celebrating another year of your child’s life doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Children are more motivated or excited by celebrations where they are taken into account, where their emotional needs are considered, and where they feel loved. So, simply blowing out a candle and eating a cake can be a celebration in itself.

What is important is not the most sophisticated birthday cake in the world, nor the most expensive gift from the most prestigious store, but the warmth of the environment in which the child feels included, safe, and respected.

Do you celebrate your children’s birthdays? Do you have a different or special celebration? Tell us in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in April 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


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Guess I missed out huh, I never really celebrated my birthday after I turned 6.. I didn't really have any friends to invite and my mom must have noticed and stopped giving parties.


Having my birthday "celebrated" was actually the opposite of what this article said it should have been for me. I almost NEVER got anything that I wanted even when what I wanted was CHEAPER than what I was given. I always asked for book, any book, even a SINGLE book and usually got jewelry and makeup. It was the same story at Christmas too.


This is so right! My husband and I have celebrated my son's birthday since year 1 and we can't have enough of seeing him happy. Like this article says: it's not about the money or how big the party is, it's about the warmth and making the birthday person happy


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