Playdates have changed somewhat from the old fashioned days. Instead of children just knocking on doors and asking their friends to come and play, scheduled times are arranged for children to play together for a certain period of time. If you aren’t familiar with playdates however, here is an inside playdate guide to the do’s and don’ts of playdate etiquette.
Three is a crowd when it comes to playdates. There are times when groups of children can get together and play great but when it comes to inside playdates more than two is just going to be a problem. It’s best if you limit the playdate to just one friend at a time. This will decrease the chance of kids playing “favorites” to anyone and will also decrease the likelihood of fighting.
Make sure that you set a time limit on how long you want the playdate to last. For toddlers, an hour to maybe an hour and a half is plenty of time. If it gets to be longer than that they usually get bored with each other and that’s when fights begin to erupt. Older children between the ages of six and twelve can usually play well together for longer. A general rule of thumb for older children and playdates is usually a couple of hours and sometimes maybe three. They could probably play for longer but then you start running into fighting issues. Everyone needs a break from one another and there’s always tomorrow.
The idea behind scheduled playdates is to help children learn how to communicate with each other and improve their social skills. Make sure you limit the amount of time (if any at all) watching TV, movies, or playing on the computer. None of these activities will help kids improve socials skills so instead of using that as your fall back, try having some other activities ready for the kids when they come over or get bored of doing what they’re doing. Reading books, interactive activities, baking, or whatever you can think of. Just try to steer clear of the television.
It’s a good idea to have a snack prepared for the kids to break up the time that they are playing together. Giving the children a break can help the children fill up on healthy foods and keep them happy and playing nicely with one another. Don’t give them sugar or fattening foods. Try to plan something healthy for them; cheese and crackers, fruit, or some sort of kid friendly snack. After all you do want them to eat it.
If your child has a favorite toy that they hate sharing with anyone then make sure you put it away before the guest arrives. Or if they are going to a friend’s house then make sure the favorite toy stays at home. Favorite toys can cause major fighting matches and actually completely ruin a playdate. If the children are at your house, then try talking with your child about things that their guest would like to play with and then take those toys out so they are available to them for playing with.
Always give the children ample warning before the playdate is going to end. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of something when someone says “Let’s clean up; it’s time to go.” Give them at least a five minute warning so they can try and finish what they’re doing and won’t feel like they’re being pulled away from their play time.
This is just a brief inside playdate guide, and as you are the parent hosting the guest you should be able to use your own judgment on most things that children should or should not be doing. Just remember that playdates should be fun for everyone.