Preparing for a Play Date

playdate picParents often ask me to give them suggestions for how help their child prepare for a play date. Here are my top five suggestions:

  1. Talk about expected behavior:  Make sure you talk with your child ahead of time.  Discuss the “social rules” for a play date and for the place where you’re going.  The expected behaviors vary between settings.  For example, think about the required behavior for a play date at the park, a friend’s home, movie theater, or ice cream parlor.  You can read books or watch videos that provide opportunities to discuss how to be a good friend.  Here’s a great list of book suggestions from the Scholastic website:
  2. Role Play:  It’s a great idea to rehearse a few phrases for various social situations.  For example, have a “social script” for greetings and farewells, giving compliments, asking questions, or taking turns in a conversation.  Also practice “problematic” situations and what to say.  Sharing toys, making compromises, taking turns, or resolving hurt feelings are common things experienced during play dates.  Here’s a “Handy Handout” that explains social scripting:
  3. Do a drive by: If your child is particularly anxious about going somewhere in the community, go there ahead of time.  For example, if it’s a park that your child has never been to before, either drive by or plan to visit prior to the play date.  If you’re unable to do this, make sure you give your child as much information as needed.  You can try looking up the venue’s website or going to a city’s parks and recreation page to look for a park.
  4. Choices:  If you’re planning the play date, maximize on your child’s strengths.  If they participate in gymnastics, maybe plan to go to Little Gym.  If your child loves to draw, make sure to include art activities.  The PBS Parents website has wonderful information that can be used to help with planning a fun play date.  Here’s a link to the Activities and Crafts Page:
  5. Make allowances:  At the end of the day, kids will be kids.  Make allowances for squabbles about not sharing, not being nice 100% of the time, or your child leaving the play situation because something else interests them.  Don’t sweat the small stuff…you and your child will enjoy the play date a lot more if the main goal is to have fun.   A parent shared this article and I wanted to pass it along…