Remember the thrill of your first play date? Well -- not unlike dating in the adult world -- it's a whole new playground out there!
To help navigate your child's first play date is parenting guru, Stacy DeBroff, the chief executive officer of Mom Central, a parenting advice Web site. DeBroff shared on "The Early Show" Tuesday the ABC's of what you need to know before you and your child meet up with others for play.
A new school year, DeBroff said, means new friends and with that, a whole host of new parents. These days with mom and dad at work all day, hectic schedules and busy lives, she said it's important to know today's etiquette when it comes to your child's social life. From play dates and sleepovers to birthday parties, DeBroff offered tips for parents on how to avoid precarious situations and parents whose parenting styles are radically different:
Getting to Know You
-How can you get to know your daughter's best friend's parents before you drop her off for the afternoon/evening?
-For working parents especially, gone are the days of playground hangouts and coffee PTA meetings.
-Today people are Facebooking other parents, texting, and exchanging emails or a rare phone call. What's the etiquette?
-Make the most of your child's teacher because he/she will know more about the kids in the class and the dynamics with your own children.
Play Date Prep for Your Kids
-Is there a way to prepare your child for a play date/party?
-If it's a first visit, then make it short. Avoid sessions that exceed an hour or two, especially the first few times the children play together.
-Avoid odd man out. Generally avoid the third wheel scenario where one is likely to be left out.
-At what age do you have this conversation? As soon as they're old enough to go on a play date without you!
-Questions: Who will be there, what will you be doing? Ask them questions after the play date - What did you eat for dinner? Did the 16-year-old brother babysit?
-Let your child know that it's okay for her to call you at any hour if she feels uncomfortable, and that you will come and pick her up without being angry or disappointed.
Responsible But Not Crazy
-Should you go up to the door and introduce yourself when you drop them off?
-Who will be home, when should I pick him up, do you have a gun in the house?
-What is your emergency plan?
-Boys, girls and late-night texting?
Lead By Example
-Do everything you expect of other parents when you're hosting other kids.
-Feel free to sit with parents of kids you have over for coffee or lunch -- get cell phone number, food rules, and general parenting rules.
-Make it politely, but firmly clear, that if an unruly friend can't abide by your house rules, she won't be invited back.
-Follow up with parents if they did something wrong with your child.
*** Don't forget "unstructured play" is great, too. Don't pack your child's week with play dates. She needs some time to herself as well! ***