One of the best parts about growing up (for a child anyway) is being able to invite friends over to the house to play. The difficult part about playing with friends, however, is that with conflicting schedules and so many other things going on there doesn’t seem to be much time. That’s where a playdate comes in. A playdate is a pre-scheduled time where children can get together and play. While most playdates will run smoothly here are some tips for making playdates more successful with young children
Tip #1: A pre-arrival discussion
Although we would like our children to remember the rules of the house when friends are over, the fact of the matter is that they probably won’t. It’s very exciting preparing for a friend to come and play so you should take some time and go over the house rules, stressing that just because a friend is here they will not change. Things like:
•Sharing and taking turns with each other
•Playing quietly if the baby is asleep
•Using polite words
•No throwing toys
These are just a few examples of house rules. Another good idea is to remind them of the consequences of breaking the rules. Every parent has their own set of rules and consequences just make sure your child remembers what they are so you don’t have to go over it while the friend is over playing.
Tip #2: Set a specific time limit
Setting a specific time limit on the playdate not only gives your child an idea of how long they have to play but it also gives you the opportunity to plan ahead. Many children will play by themselves but some will require more attention from a parent. If you set aside a few hours during the day to help them play well together, or make play dough for them, or whatever, it can help the playdate run much more successfully and they will definitely want to do it again.
Tip #3: Put away special toys
Every child has a toy or two that they just love more than anything else in the world and would die first before letting anyone else play with it. It’s best just to put those toys away for the duration of the playdate as they will most likely only cause problems between the two children. You may have to sit down with your child and talk with them about why you’re putting the toy away, but for a successful playdate you want the children to learn how to take turns and share, which most likely won’t happen if their favorite toys are still out.
Tip #4: Prepare some snacks for the children
Depending on what time of the day it is, a snack is a great way to break up the time in a playdate. They can take a much needed break from playing with each other and fill up their tummies with some healthy food. You could even feed them lunch if you really wanted to. Snacks help children stay happy while they play together. If children get hungry they get grouchy and that never makes for a successful playdate.
Tip #5: Step Aside
Try and remember that this is a playdate, not a parent and kid play time. It’s important for child development that they learn how to get along with each other, solve problems, and work things out if they can. Don’t be in a hurry to rush to the aid of your child if they get in an argument about something. Keep a watchful eye, but give them their space and let them play.
Hopefully these simple tips for making playdates more successful will help you as you prepare your child for the world of friends and fun.