Any time you’re planning a child’s birthday party, stress is going to be involved. You want to make sure you get it right. No one wants to host a party that wasn’t enjoyed or caused an incident. Then there’s the pressure of gifts. Finding gifts for children can be hard enough if you’re out of the loop, nevermind the challenge of actually getting them before they fly off store shelves. These concerns are all compounded if your party is for a child who is either troubled by trauma or is suffering from a mental illness, such as depression. The last thing you want your event to do is add to their frustration. The following are some generally safe and constructive options that could work as party themes or gifts.

Arcade rentals

They might not be the first thought that would come to mind, especially considering how many groups like to perpetuate the supposed negative effects of videogames on youth, but arcade game rentals can actually be a good choice for parties. That is, as long as the games are not violent or upsetting, obviously. Family friendly arcade games can give the party a fun atmosphere and ensure guests are entertained. More importantly, these games tend to attract children of all ages and dispositions and can have some positive effects. These can include improved hand eye coordination, resource management, and they can encourage sociability under the right conditions. Basing an entire party around them probably isn’t the best idea, but with proper supervision, they can be a fun enhancement.

Get artsy

An art themed party can be great for kids, since they’re naturally creative. There are plenty of ways to go about a party like this, from making desserts as a creative activity to having paint splatter wars. When it comes to gifts, there are plenty of safe ideas that can help troubled children.

Younger children tend to do well with the old staples like crayons and Play-Doh. As they get older, however, it’s good to give them ways to express themselves in more challenging ways. The visually oriented may appreciate a sketchbook to express their feelings on paper. Many children are interested in music, and while you may not want to buy an instrument, you could introduce them to apps like GarageBand to test their creativity. However you decide to go about it, art therapy is proven to help troubled youth with things like regulating emotions, integrating with other children, and improving behavior.

Costume party

While most commonly done on or around Halloween, a costume party can be a fun idea for any time of the year. Children love pretending to be other people, and they need positive role models, so having a party where everyone dresses as their favorite hero can create a fun and positive atmosphere. It can also be an opportunity for parents to see what kind of characters their children are looking up to and help them select a good role model. This can also simplify gift giving if there are popular toys based on children’s beloved heroes at the time.

Superhero play can have a positive effect on troubled children in that it can give them a sense of empowerment, like they can defeat their problems. It can also instill them with a basic sense of morality. Combining this with real world examples of what makes a person good can be constructive for a child’s development. Just make sure there are established rules for play, and look out for red flags like increased aggression.

The truth is every child is different. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell how they will react to situations. These were just a few possible ideas for troubled youth, but it will ultimately be their parents’/guardians’ decision what is appropriate for their child.