Fun Time With Play Dates

Little girl reads book
Every parent knows that the first step in any child's social life starts with the play date. But play dates can be quite different from one to the next, and it's important to understand what your own expectations are, in addition to your child's, Arond says.

Questions may arise like, what if you don't like the other parent or how would you go about reprimanding your child's friend if need be, says Arond. It's good to remember that there are things you can control and others that you can't.

Here are the most important things to remember when it comes to making a play date according to Arond:

1. Keep your child's age and personality in mind. Don't schedule play dates five days a week if your child is 2 years old. Or, if the child is very young, keep play dates short. You need to keep the child's needs in mind.

2. Don't project your own needs onto the child. Some parents tend to set up play dates with children because of who their parents' are, or because the mom is hoping to establish a friendship with the other mom. You should never have your children socialize because you need friends yourself, or to prove that they're popular so that you feel better.

3. Keep it fun. This should not be stressful. If planning or arranging play dates causes you stress, then there is something really wrong with the picture.

Here are other tips:

If your child is visiting

  • Check out the house where your child will be. If you can, stay once to observe; if you can't, at least stop by for the first time.
    If you can't stay, go up to the door with your child - don't just drop him off at the end of the driveway - and have a 5-10 minute conversation with the other parent.
  • Make the first play date really short so that you can check it all out and see how the host parent handles discipline.
  • Call the other mom and tell her about any allergies or your rules for watching TV, etc. If you suspect there might be guns in the house drop it in the conversation and ask if the guns are locked up. If that's not good enough for you, you could ask if they would mind if you always hosted the play dates because you're not comfortable with your child around guns.

If you are hosting the event
  • Choose appropriate times to host a play date. If you're too tired, it may not be the best time. You have to have your energy and strength to address these in a calm manner.
  • Talk to your child – Explain what your expectations are. What proper behavior is and the specific things you expect your child not to pick up because they are not polite. Kids understand.
  • Set up boundaries and activities so that potential problems can be avoided. Say something like, "Max can choose the first game and you can choose the second."
  • Set up some rules. If you don't like your child's friend's behavior, you can say things like "We don't do that here" or "We don't use this kind of language and "If you can't follow the rules in our house, then I'll have to call your mom." A time-out is not recommended because it is important to avoid the kids being embarrassed.

    If a child misbehaves while parent is present, give the parent time to react. If your guest doesn't, then talk to the child. The parent may be that lax all the time or may not know how to discipline.

    Be very calm and clear about expectations and you can model it for them. And you can say you don't think their behavior is leading to a good place and tell them they have to leave.