Dr Amanda Gummer’s top tips for a fun playdate
Playdates are a great way for children to socialise and develop skills such as communication, turn-taking and sharing. Children benefit from being left to play with their peers. Here are ten top tips from Dr Amanda Gummer on how to have the perfect playdate:
1. For the first few playdates invite the child’s parent over too, this will allow your child’s friend to get to know you and become familiar with the routine of the playdate. If the child’s parent won’t be there, make sure you have their contact details and are aware of any allergies or other needs their child has.
2. Show the guests around and offer them a drink so they feel more comfortable – this models good manners to your child who can do this with you.
3. Let the guests choose what they watch on TV or play with to help them feel more relaxed, but give them limited choices so as not to overwhelm them.
4. At this age children may be potty training, so ask the child’s parent if they have any special routines (e.g. going to the potty straight after having a drink).
5. Consider hiding particularly favourite toys (including comforters) somewhere safe before the playdates, so they don’t get fought over or damaged.
6. Have some quick and easy games tucked up your sleeve in case you need them. - Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is often a favourite with children at this age.
7. Double the children, double the mess! Allow the children to tidy up at the end. Make it playful by putting on some music, and having a race to see who can collect the most toys.
8. Try and judge the mood and energy levels of the children and plan activities accordingly. A little TV time is fine if balanced with lots of active, free play. Age-appropriate educational shows can even provide a springboard for make-believe play afterwards.
9. Don’t expect young children to play cooperatively together without adult input, they’ll be happy playing in the same space and will gradually take more notice of each other as they get older and more comfortable in each other’s presence.
10. Match the activities to the length of the playdate. First playdates can be short - maybe just an hour or so for very young children – little and often is a good approach, especially if children are likely to be tired, e.g. after nursery.
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If you missed our five Playdate disasters, you can read them here:
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