By Brandi M. Seals
You may not realize it, but there are a series of unwritten rules when it comes to play dates. They are nothing too series, just a few things moms and dads should do to make sure play dates are successful and everyone leaves happy.
1.) Be On Time
It is okay to be a little late every once in awhile, but do not expect another parent to wait around for more than 15 minutes for you and your child to show. If you know you will be late, be courteous and call ahead. A little heads up is all it takes so that everyone remains happy.
If you are notoriously late for everything, be aware that others may view your constantly tardiness as a sign that the play date is not as important to you or your little one. Maybe schedule play dates with someone else that also seems to always be behind schedule. That way you both know what to expect and do not get upset when someone ends up being very late. It is never fair to waste someone else's time, so do everything possible to stay on track.
2.) Share and Share Alike
All the children at the play date should have the same rights and the same access to anything at the play date. If you notice one child hogging a toy when others clearly want to play with it, encourage them to share. If there is one toy everyone is fighting over, try giving each child 10 minutes to play with it before they must trade it off to someone else.
I know learning to share is often a struggle for children. Do not get to upset if your child does not catch on to the concept at first. Encourage sharing often. Teach your kids how to share by sharing a piece of candy with him or her. Anything will do, the point is to demonstrate sharing and point out how nice it feels when others share with them.
3.) No Biting
Children learn to bite when they get frustrated and are unable to vocalize what they are feeling. It is a stage that most children go through and it can be tough to break. If your child is biting, I encourage you to pay special attention to it. Let the other parents know when they bring the kids for the play date. Reassure them that you will have your eye on your child and invite them to let you know if you missed seeing your child bite.
Hopefully your child will keep his teeth to himself during the exchange, but if he does not, you must step in. Stop the biting immediately and discipline your child. All too often parents brush it off but nothing is going to be more offensive to the other parents than their children being bitten by your child without repercussion.
4.) Discipline the Kids
You should always discipline your child anytime he or she hits another child, refuses to share toys, or is otherwise out of line. If the other parents are leaving their child in your care first discuss what they prefer to have done when their children act up. Each set of parents has their own way of disciplining their child. Try to follow their wishes but by no means ignore the situation if you are not given directions on what to do.
If you must discipline another person's child, using a time out is always a safe form of punishment that most parents seem to agree is acceptable. When the parent arrives to pick up their child, note that the child needed to be disciplined and why they were disciplined. Never make a big deal out of it but parents should be aware when their child acts up.
These are the four golden rules when it comes to any play date. The key is to keep everyone happy and avoid stepping on anyone's toes. If a problem arises, always try to discuss it openly without blame. It is important to remember that everyone parents differently and no one really is doing it perfectly. Always keep comments about how others parent to yourself because nothing will upset the group more than unwanted judgments.