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Planning Fun Play Dates

Nov 15, 2007
Getting your kids together with other kids their age and developing early friendships is a great way to open up communication and teach your kids the value of being polite and respectful. It's also just fun and a great excuse to get your kids out of the house for a few hours so that you can have some peace and quiet! Play dates are also great ways for your kids to gain confidence in social situations and learn how to carry conversations and learn more about others.

The first thing you need to do is come up with a plan as to who you are going to have a play date. Think about who your children might like to spend time with. Maybe they have friends from school or some relatives that they really enjoy being around. Maybe there is a neighbor or a friend that has children that are around the same age as yours. Try to set your kids up on a play date with people they will get a long with, as the alternative can be awkward.

Of course, on the play date you'll need to do something fun. A great idea is to take the kids to a restaurant with a playroom or a playground and let them go at it while you and the other adult sit and relax over coffee. This will give you a chance to visit with the other parent and see how the children interact, too, giving you more of an indication as to whether or not future play dates can work out with this person.

You'll also need to be really upfront with the other parent. It may seem odd, but treat the play date like a conventional date. Let the other parent know about your child, about your expectations and about what you hope to see come out of the play date. If you intend for their to be other play dates, make this clear as well.

It is important to keep an eye on your kids while they are playing, as they are your responsibility. Make sure that you keep within a safe "yelling" distance at the very least, so that you can make sure that they are behaving themselves. Encourage good manners with your kids at all times and instruct them as to how to be respectful to others through modelling the behavior on your own.

You may need to think of some simple activities for the kids if you are unable to take them out. Think of playing board games or with puzzles, for example. Try to keep your kids away from television and other stationary activities that don't stimulate movement or conversation. Instead, get all of the kids included in the task or activity and include each child in a different aspect of the play date so that nobody feels left out.

Organizing a play date can be fun for your kids and it can be fun for you, but it takes careful planning and consideration in order to make sure it goes right. Teach your kids good manners and respect, give the kids a lot of activities to choose from, and pay attention to what they're doing. Following these simple instructions will help the play date be a great success!
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