10 Ways To Ensure A Perfect Playdate


All parents want their children to have friends. Getting together with friends at the park, playing with friends at preschool, or visiting with relatives constitute a preschooler’s social life. So do going to a friend’s house and hosting a playdate. All of these social events facilitate friendships for your toddler or preschooler; unfortunately, personalities and play styles may sometimes clash during these get-togethers. However, if you are prepared with these 10 tips, you can help your child's playdates go so much more smoothly.

1. Invite a small and even number of children. Inevitably, with an odd number of children, one child will be left out of the fun. Plus, fewer children mean fewer conflicts. If possible, limit your little guests to two or four, including your own child.

2. You do not have to babyproof your house completely, but make it as safe as possible and alert parents to potential dangers. Perhaps set aside a designated play area and close the doors to any rooms you do not want children to enter.

3. Put away your child's favorite toys so she will not have to worry about sharing and so you will not have to worry about them getting broken. Also, put away popular toys if you only have one. For example, youngsters are likely to fight over one riding toy, so put it away until after the playdate. Alternatively, ask your guests to bring their own favorite riding toys.

4. Don’t expect too much socialization. Most toddlers and preschoolers parallel play, so do not push them to play together. Even when youngsters play side by side, they can learn and have fun just by watching each other.

5. Intervene in disputes only when necessary. When there is a conflict with sharing, let the children work things out on their own unless the situation escalates to violence. In this case, you may need to distract them with fun group activities, such as blocks, puzzles, or bubbles, so have items like these on hand.

6. Encourage cooperative play with toys such as blocks, puzzles, bubbles, modeling clay, sand box, or age-appropriate games. Some parents find that starting the playdate with one of these shared activities gets the playdate off to a good start. Definitely avoid television and computer games, however. The children are supposed to play during a playdate; they will not learn social skills staring at a screen.

7. Offer snacks. This is a great way to calm things down if things start getting out of hand, or to liven things up if the kids are bored. You can even include the kids in preparation. However, check with parents in advance to ensure the snack will not interfere with mealtime or to find out about any allergies. If snack time would interfere with the next meal, at least offer beverages to your guests.

8. Plan for the playdate to last less than two hours. Toddlers and preschoolers get tired of each other and cranky after about an hour and a half to two hours. It is better to leave the children wanting more than to extend the time and risk ending the playdate with fights and tears.

9. Give a five-minute departure warning. This will give the children time to adjust to leaving, especially if they are having a good time.

10. Help pick up toys. Encourage the kids to clean up together, so that no one will be left with a mess; not to mention, this will teach your children cooperation and good manners.

Following these tips will help you, your child and your guests enjoy the playdate and look forward to more.


A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups

About the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8). A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded five successful playgroups and helped start countless other playgroups around the world. Visit her web site at http://www.carrenjoye.com.