Playdate problems and how to handle them

When other kids come over to play, it can be challenging — especially for kids who struggle socially. Learn what problems to anticipate and how to handle them.

Your child clams up as soon as a friend arrives.

Solution: Plan an activity, like a craft or a puzzle, that doesn’t require a lot of talking. This helps take the pressure off. Your child doesn’t have to come up with things to say. Instead, the kids can jump into the activity, and chit-chat might happen naturally from there.

Your child doesn’t want to share.

Solution: Have your child put away favorite toys or games before the friend arrives. Or go to a playground where sharing won’t be as big a problem.

If more than one friend comes over, your child gets left out.

Solution: Try to have just one friend over at a time. This way, your child has a better chance of connecting with the friend. And let your child give as much input as you can — who to invite, where to go, what to do. Remind your child that making friends takes time and practice.

Half an hour into it, your child is done.

Solution: Invite the other child’s parent. That way, if you feel like ending things early, you won’t be stuck waiting. Thirty minutes of fun is better than 90 minutes of unhappiness.

Looking for more ideas? Get tips on helping your child with social cues.

About the author

About the author

Lexi Walters Wright is the former community manager at Understood. As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.


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