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News & Events

The Magic of Play Dates – Part 2

Part Two: Playdate FAQs

Okay! We now know that playdates are good for all of us, but what are the challenges and pitfalls of a playdate?

Here are a few common questions (dilemmas) that can pop up on a playdate:

Q) What if my child is very, very shy initially, and shuts down when the other child(ren) arrive?

A) Choose a quiet activity that requires little conversation or interaction to break the ice, like a craft or puzzle. Eventually, conversation and interaction will take place organically. You can ease the children into the activity by sitting down and facilitating interactions by asking questions and making comments on their choices and progress. Use this as a warm-up and watch them gain comfort and confidence.

Q) What if my child refuses to share toys and becomes angry with the guests?

A) Before the kids arrive, put away your child’s favorite toys—the ones they are most likely to become territorial over. If you have some duplicate, put them out so that there are enough toys to go around. If the behavior becomes an ongoing issue, considering changing up the venue to a local park where they have less personal investment in the equipment.

Q) What if a guest child is rude or behaves badly?

A) Before you get the playdate going, review your established House Rules for behavior. Be sure that all children understand those boundaries, as well as basic dos and don’ts. Station yourself nearby—but not out of sight to monitor their play. Try your best not to intervene in an argument to see if they can talk their way through a conflict. If the problem escalates, gently redirect the child involved, being careful not to embarrass or humiliate, instead suggesting better and kinder choices. If the situation merits, you may want to let the parent of the guest child know about the argument.

Q) What if the guest parents are dropping off and picking up late on a consistent basis?

A) This is a tough one—but you must be clear that you have a schedule that includes an allotted time for play. If you sense a pattern by certain parents, add some cushion into the start time—if they are late dropping off tell them the playdate starts at 10:00—when you are really anticipating a 10:30 start. The same thing applies for those late to pick up. If you need the play time to end by 5:00pm, tell them that you have plans at 4:30. If the problem continues, you may need to reconsider future invitations.

Q) Exactly how do I know if my child is choosing a good match for a playdate?

A) If the children share the same school or classroom, ask their teacher who they would recommend for a playdate with your child. They have the benefit of supervising peer interaction every day, and they will know details about the chemistry between your child and their friends.

Q) What if the chemistry is just not working between my child and their guest? How do I “break up with a frequent playdate companion?

A) Initiate a respectful conversation and explain that you are no longer sure the children bring out the best in one another. We all know that chemistry between humans can change and evolve into a less than desirable pairing. Be very careful not to sound judgmental and maintain honesty. Chances are the other parent has observed some of the very behavior that concerns you. Assess no blame and express a wish to remain on friendly terms

Q) Is there an ideal time for a playdate?

A) Be sure that you ask the parent(s) of the children you want to include for a time that meshes well with their meal and sleep schedules. Kids should never arrive for play tired, hungry (unless a meal is scheduled) or out of sorts.

Q) How do I say no to a playdate? I feel so guilty if I decline an invitation.

A) The answer is easy and difficult at the same time. I hereby give you permission to say no! Seriously, there are times when you will have to politely decline because of a conflict, or because you are just exhausted and don’t want to move a muscle. Thank the hostess and ask for a raincheck…at your house if that makes you feel better!

Look for the last segment publication date on Wednesday, April 18th! Thanks for reading!