The idea of play dates used to make me nervous. I worried about who I should invite and how to invite them. I stressed about planning activities and how involved I should be.Â I especially stressed about what to do if it all went wrong. Would my daughter forgive me if I just avoided them altogether?!
Most likely she wouldnâ€™t.
My daughter is 3-year-old social butterfly. She makes a new friend just about every time we go out to the playground, the museum, the swimming pool or even the supermarket. While casually playing with others outside is great, time spent one-on-one is best for close friendships. In this way, she learns to share, cooperate, listen and hopefully make lasting friends. Play dates are where she can learn those skills in a safe home environment.
Here are some of the best tips Iâ€™ve found to help you with your childâ€™s next play date:
Before the Play Date
- Invite one of your childâ€™s friends. Decide who to invite with your child. One-on-one play dates are best for developing close friendships. With three or more, there is more of a chance of a child feeling left out.
- Keep the get-together short.Â Between one and two hours is more than enough time for younger children.
- Be specific about a time and date when organizing a play date. Many moms make the mistake of saying, â€œWe should set up a play date.â€ People get busy and if you offer a specific date and time, itâ€™s more likely to happen.
- Avoid mealtimes at first. The best times to schedule a new play date is mid-morning or afternoons.
- Set up play date rules. Discuss with your child how to be gracious.
- Discuss discipline with the other parent. If mom stays for the visit, and itâ€™s a good idea at first, it may be more effective for each parent to discipline her own child.
- Set up â€œactivity stationsâ€. Put them in different areas or rooms of your home. Some fun ideas may include art, sand play, dress up, sports, play dough or building toys.
During the Play Date
- Be involved. While you donâ€™t want to be hands-on for the entire play date, it is important for parents to have a role in the play date.
- Keep the activities rolling. Suggest changes in activities when you sense restlessness or misbehavior.
- Always have snacks. Food is a great diversion for a play date thatâ€™s getting out of control. Make sure you ask about any food allergies her child may have, and always choose a healthier option.
After the play date
If your child feels good about the play date, let the other mom know andÂ plan another play date!
What are your best play date tips?
Symmetry is a trained teacher, homeschooling mom and currently living overseas in China. Visit website at Step By Step Homeschooling.