Center For Pediatric: Introducing Children To Play Dates

Kids Health The Newsletter About Taking Care Of The Ones That Matter Most

“There Are Guidelines To Being A Successful Host For Your Child’s Friends!” INTRODUCING YOUR CHILD TO PLAY DATES

The Rules of Engagement Find that sweet spot of numbers

all make for popular replenishment. A full pitcher of water is helpful, too. Choose the right time There are good times -- and there are awful times. If your child turns into Jekyll and Hyde at 1:00, give yourself room on either side to avoid a meltdown. Keep in mind nap schedules and meal times. Likewise, if you’re going to need to rush your child to another activity at a certain point close to the playdate, allow for some downtime between events. If you’re planning hang time away from the house, consider when that place will be the most packed and try to avoid it then. Prepare the space Not all toys are created equal. If you know your child will throw a fit if forced to share, say, her favorite Hot Wheel, keep the car tucked far away. That is unless there are two of that toy, in which case display them prominently. Playdates aren’t necessarily the best time to try to enforce concepts like sharing if you can thwart the issue well in advance. If the little fry does get into a

quarrel over a specific toy, consider giving the toy -- not the children -- a time out. Keep in mind that visitors don’t know the rules of your house so it’s important to put away belongings that are untouchable and clarify rules that other families may not follow. For instance, if the idea of children jumping on your couch sends you railing, it’s best to tell the parents and children ahead of time. After all, couch-jumping may be perfectly acceptable elsewhere. Know when to say goodbye If children are miserable or can’t be consoled, it’s time to call quits on the playdate. For babies and toddlers, an hour is usually a good landing point. Most preschoolers can handle two or three hours, but a watchful eye can determine if that is too much. Successful playdates are important for children and parents alike. A little attention and preparation go a long way. As with all things child-related, knowing when to change course is just (if not more) as important.

Depending on the age of the children and their abilities, knowing how many to include can vary. For babies, it’s really an opportunity for parents to congregate. Since infants don’t actually play together, the more may be merrier. For older kids, however, the term ‘three is a crowd’ is applicable. Try to distract any younger siblings with a friend or toy of their own; avoid situations where one child will be left out while the other two play. The least tricky number is, of course, one-on-one. Around age 4, children can often handle a few more in the mix, according to Parents magazine, though that does mean closer supervision is necessary. Take your role as caterer seriously No one runs well without food, and there are few places where this is truer than on playdates. Low blood sugar is a recipe for a terrible hang out time, so be prepared to keep the mood elevated with plenty o’ grub. If parents will be lingering, make sure there are snacks for them as well. Fruit snacks, popcorn, and veggies with hummus

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