Play dates are an important social experience for your child’s development. They provide children with opportunities to practice important social and emotional skills. In these situations they learn to share, take turns, and cooperate as they interact with each other.
Helping your child to develop his/her social skills
Let’s face it, not all children are naturally outgoing, full of confidence and a social butterfly. Then there are some kids who are, but may need a little guidance as to how to relate to their playmates. A lot of kids just need a little help along the way. Every child needs playtime with friends but some kids may be seen as bossy while others appear as shy. A great game like a race track toy will most certainly facilitate a successful play date.
If you’re concerned with your child’s social skills (or perhaps lack thereof), the best way to work on these skills is in a one-on-one play date.
Following we bring you some ideas about how to best set up a play date which is most likely to succeed.
Setting up a playdate isn’t complicated, but a little thought and preparation go a long way.
Make the first move – It can be a little daunting but this is for the benefit of your child so just go for it. Talk to the parents of the child you would like to invite. Don’t be discouraged if the answer is no, you’ll never know unless you try.
If your child is old enough and outgoing enough, they may wish to invite the other child themselves. If your child feels comfortable, have them approach the other child to suggest a play date. Role play this encounter with your child in advance and work on how to respond to an acceptance or a possible rejection.
Set a Time Limit – If you’re hosting, there should be a fixed start and finish time for your play date. The ideal time is one to three hours, depending on the age of the children.
THE FIRST PLAYDATE
Place: Ideally, the first playdate should be in your own home. Your child will feel more comfortable in a familiar environment and you’ll be there to keep an eye and ear on things, so you can step in if things start to go south.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE
• Discuss the etiquette of a playdate with your child. Explain to him/her that the other child is their guest and that they should be attentive to their feelings. Afterall, the playdate guest is in a strange place for the first time.
• If your child has “special toys” you know, the ones that no one else is allowed to touch, make sure that they are put away safely. This will avoid any unpleasantness on this point.
• Prepare the toys you “think” they will enjoy playing with together. Remember, you don’t know the second child well and their preferences may be different to your own child’s.
IDEAS FOR SOME FUN PLAYDATE TOYS
Have a few options available that you know your child loves and so he/she will not be disappointed by the other child’s choice. For instance, if you know your child loves:
• Craft projects
• Playing ball in the yard
• A race track toy
These should all be options which are readily available.
Games should be selected for both energetic and quiet play so that they can go from being boisterous to calm as the mood takes them.
Quiet games which allow for collusion include, amongst others:
• Arts & Crafts
• Board Games
More energetic games may include:
• Any kind of ball game
• Using the trampoline (if you have one)
• Jumping rope
• Basketball and so on.
This brings us to our particular favorite: glow in the dark track toy This all-weather toy can be played indoors or outdoors. It’s a great social activity which encourages imaginative play and communication.
The best car race track toy is one which can incorporate not just cars but also models of animals and people. In our opinion the best car race track toy for this purpose is the one from JitteryGit. What could possibly be more fun than having cars and a dinosaur safari all in one great game? What’s more, it even glows in the dark! This has to be a young child’s dream.
HAVE SNACKS READY
Go for tasty but healthy snacks based on fruits and veggies.
Keep sugar down to a minimum! You really don’t want a sugar rush on your hands.
If you follow these simple tips your child will most likely have a fun and successful first playdate.
If you hear the words, “Mom, when can we do it again?” You know you’re on the right track.