Playdates: tips for having problem-solving and relationship-building ones

Playdates may seem as an unnecessary agenda-space filler, but they are in fact a very important opportunity for your child to imagine and learn alongside his peers. Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect, and kids need to have spaces for practicing their developing social and emotional skills in order to continue growing.

Because the idea of dealing with more than one toddler at a time can seem very challenging, we have prepared some tips on how to schedule great playdates for your son:

• Make them short and don’t overschedule. Rather than doing it every day, organize 60 to 120-minute-long playdates once or twice a week. If your kid has many activities already, ask him to try and be on his best social behavior, like in day care. Check his attitude and behavior to see if you should cut back on the extra playdates.
• Arrange playdates avoiding nap or mealtimes so that the kids are not tired or hungry.
• Reward good hosting behavior. Being a playdate host is a bit more demanding for a toddler, because it means sharing his house, toys, food and parents. If this is the case, you can allow your child to put a toy that he doesn’t like to share away before the guest arrive. Taking apart a favorite or special thing can make sharing most of other possessions easier.
• Start with a healthy snack and make sure both kids receive the same amount.
• Stay around and supervise, so that you can help kids arrive at a compromise in case a conflict arises.
• Encourage playing together, but don’t push it if both kids are happy playing side to side.

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