Playing today has taken on an entirely different meaning. Children no longer play freely, up and down the block with one another. No, playdates are the way to have children interact and socialize with each other and some can be quite formal while others are very relaxed and carefree. Whatever the case with you, there is some playdate etiquette that you should know about before engaging in an actual playdate. Here is some playdate etiquette to keep in mind if your child likes playing with friends:
Etiquette Rule #1: Bring some snacks
Unless you have talked with the other parent or parents involved with the playdate, don’t assume that food will be provided. Always come prepared and bring your own snacks. Plus even if the host parent has food, there’s no telling if you’re child will like it and eat it. Children are so fussy when it comes to eating, so it’s just a good idea to bring some snacks for them to eat. You don’t want to eat your host parent out of house or home the first time you go over and play. After a few times playing you will get a feel for what snack time is like and feel more comfortable in asking what (if anything) you can bring.
Etiquette Rule #2: House Rules
If you are the host parent then you obviously will know the house rules and so will your child. If however you are not the host parent, then you will want to make sure that your child knows what the rules of the house are and that they obey them. There’s nothing worse than having a child come over to play who doesn’t obey the rules, but it’s even worse when the parent does nothing about it. You can imagine how many times you’ll be invited back: right, none! Teach your child to obey the rules even if or when they are different from yours. This teaches them respect of other people’s property and they will be able to follow other house rules when playing at another house.
Etiquette Rule #3: Plan activities for the children
Even though you might be used to children just coming over to play, proper “playdate” etiquette is to have some fun activities planned for the children even if they don’t get around to doing them. Don’t try and force them to do the activities you have planned, but if they can’t figure out what to do then you are well prepared with giving them some fun ideas. Be willing to help with their needs but don’t be too overbearing. After all they do need to learn to socialize with each other, not a parent. Planning activities for the children can distract fighting children.
Etiquette Rule #4: Respect the time limit
Every playdate should have a time limit. Playdates for younger children between the ages of 2-5 will usually last between an hour and an hour and a half. That is plenty of time for them to come and play but not enough for them to dislike one another. Playdates for older children between the ages of six and twelve can last two to two and a half hours. While they may want to stay longer, the playdate time limit should always be respected. If you come to pick your child up and they tell you they want to just stay, don’t just agree and tell the host parent you’ll be back in an hour. Be firm and tell them that it is time to go and they can come back another day. You might find if you abuse the time limit that you won’t be invited back too many times.
It’s important to understand playdate etiquette before you start taking your child over to a friend’s house to play. There are many unspoken rules when it comes to playdates so if you are unsure about anything make sure you ask the host parent so there are no misunderstandings.