Tips for Safe and Fun Play Dates

Play dates are a wonderful way to get parents and toddlers together for some social time.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #4

Hey There!  You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting. Today’s topic:  Come out and Play! Tips for Safe and Fun Play Dates    

Play dates are a wonderful way to get parents and toddlers together for some social time. This is a great time for your children to learn about sharing, socializing, and imaginative play. Play dates can be fun for all parties involved, but they can also have their fair share of drama. I would like to share with you some quick and dirty tips to make play dates more enjoyable for everyone.

The first tip I’d like to talk about is about time limits. It's a good idea to set a definite time limit for your play date, and make sure that all adults agree upon the set time. Toddlers can generally only tolerate about 45 minutes worth of an activity involving other children. Time limits can help prevent over-stimulation. If the play date is being held at a personal home, a set time limit will also help the host keep his or her own schedule intact. By keeping a set schedule parents can avoid missing regular nap times and meals or snack times. Children may not be able to say so, but they appreciate structure, and any parent that can keep the kids on a regular schedule will find they have much happier kids.

Time limits are not the only thing you should be discussing in advance. I highly recommend that all parents involved agree upon a few key elements before the scheduled play date.

In my opinion, the most sensitive subject will be discipline. While each individual parent should be responsible for their own children, it should still be agreed upon as to when discipline will be issued for disputes among the children. Do you let the children work out their own issues or do you step in immediately?  Sometimes the kids do need to work things out on their own. This is part of learning social behavior. I personally encourage the kids to work out their disputes as much as is reasonable. Parents need to agree upon the line at which someone will step in and remove the child or children from the situation. When hitting, throwing, biting, pinching or any otherwise destructive behavior is occurring or about to occur then, most definitely an adult needs to take action. If you do need to point out a certain behavior to another parent regarding his or her own child, I recommend that you do this as gently as possible.