Playdates are fun, with the proper planning and precaution. Toddlers are still learning social skills, and their natural sense of territory (and poor handle on their emotions) can mean plenty of tantrums. Here are some secrets to keeping playdates fun.
More than telling your toddler how to do something, show him. If your little ones observe you consistently showing concern, they will learn, in time, to be just as thoughtful with their peers. You can explain the concept of sharing ahead of time, but be patient and reasonable. If your child feels strongly against sharing a favorite toy, by all means respect it. Keep it away for the time being.
Don’t turn it into a circus
It’s good to have a lot of fun and games, but find a good balance between avoiding boredom, yet leaving them yearning for their next get-together. An hour or two seems like a good enough time to achieve that—which means one major activity, a backup activity, and plenty of free play when they can just choose from a handful of toys. \Don’t try too hard and have every imaginable toy in the room. Children get overwhelmed when there is too much, and they may forget to interact with each other.
Keep it small
A group of two to five children is ideal.
Choose toys well
Put out toys that you have more than one of such as books, puzzles, cars, toy animals and blocks. Have activities like coloring, Play-Doh, or simple crafts on stand-by.
Prep your child
This isn’t time for surprises. Tell your child when his playdate will be, who it will be with and what things he will expect. Include him when deciding on the friends, food and activities.
Switch things around
Vary your playdates to expose your child to different groups and age ranges. Meet in different locations outside of homes such as parks, bookstores, kid-friendly restaurants and museums. New places and new people equate to new experiences.