Gently Parent Your Toddler Toward a Positive Playdate

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“That’s my toy!” Sound familiar? Hoping for a positive playdate at your house?

‘Play dates’ are kind of a thing. When I was young, I don’t remember such a ‘thing’ existing, you just went over to someone’s house and played. At the end of the day, it’s all the same. Play dates provide with ample social practice for kids, and the opportunity for moms to talk with someone ‘their own age’. However, playdate drama is bound to occur. Here are some simple ways you can gently prepare for it, all while creating learning opportunities for the future.

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Help Prepare your Kids Emotionally for a Playdate

First off, let’s talk about what kind of issues might arise.

Possession over owned toys, sharing, taking turns, and aggression can easily crop up when a friend comes over to play. After all, from a toddler’s perspective, someone is coming to their home, playing in their room with their toys, and may not play the way they are used to playing. Combine this with low impulse control and an inability to always completely express their emotions, and squabbles and ‘drama’ can easily occur.



Simple Tips to Prepare for a Kids Playdate

Prep your child. Talk with your kids about what a good friend does. Being a good friend means doing kind things for one another, helping each other out, and spending time together. Even young toddlers can understand this in simplified language. “We treat our friends kindly. It is so nice to be with our friends. If a friend needs something we can try to help!”

Practice being a good friend with pretend playBefore your play date, gather a couple of your toy dolls or stuffed animals and host a pretend play date. Play with your child having the dolls share toys, ask to have a turn, etc. Use a lot of positive reinforcement while playing and talk about how much fun it is to play together!

Talk about potential issues. Prep your child for the fact that a friend is coming over to play and will be playing with some of their toys. Discuss how he/she feels about that. It’s ok to ask these questions! Gauge how your child is feeling about this, and work through some potential issues, allowing them to express their emotions.

Set aside some special toys that are not for sharing. Does your child have a favorite toy, or a special blanket or stuffed animal? These types of toys might be triggers for your child, and expecting them to be ok with sharing them might be too much to ask. Ask your child if there are any special toys to them that are not for sharing. You can tuck these away and return them when the play date is over. This has an added bonus of giving your child a sense of control over the situation, and this also prepares them for sharing the remaining toys.

Should issues arise. follow up after. Have a calm discussion when the play date is over, and make a plan for next time. Always allow your child to tell their side of the story and express their feelings about the situation. Right or wrong, they deserve the chance to work through what happened, and you will feel better equipped to deal with the situation next time.


Are playdates at your house an ongoing issue?

Are your young kids continuously have a hard time with playing together with friends? Ask yourself a couple of questions. Are you doing it for you or for them? Sometimes, expecting a child to handle a playmate in their home is just too much to ask. Give it some time before scheduling another play date, and find neutral ground in the meantime. Maybe join a music or gymnastics class or set up a park play date to keep your kiddo engaged with others in a less threatening arena.

Tips for avoiding playdate drama with toddlers and preschoolers! Gently parent your way toward a positive playdate.

Here’s to a positive playdate (and more of that mom social hour!)

At the end of the day, we want our kids to know that it’s ok to disagree or not like something that someone  else does, but part of being a good friend it to lead with kindness and respect. In preparing for some of these issues with your child, you will be on your way to a kids playdate that is hopefully, drama-free, and FUN!


Photo Credit: Kids playing with crane, children playing with mothers

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