Playgrounds & playdates

At a Glance: Playdate Problems and How to Handle Them

By Lexi Walters Wright

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Learning and attention issues can make playdates tricky. This is especially true if your child has communication troubles or social skills issues. Learn what problems to anticipate during playdates, and how to handle them.

36Found this helpful
At a Glance: Playdate Problems and How to Handle Them

Kids with learning and attention issues may have trouble interacting with other kids on playdates. Learn what to expect, and how you can help.

Problem: Your child clams up the moment a friend arrives.
Solution: Have an activity planned that doesn’t require a lot of discussion. Consider a craft or a puzzle. Planning an activity together helps make it easier for children to socialize.

Problem: Sharing is a disaster!
Solution: Put away any favorite toys or games before the playmate arrives. If you have doubles of any toy—blocks, for example—consider putting those out for the two of them to play with. Or go to a playground where sharing won’t be as big a problem.

Problem: When more than one friend comes over, your child ends up being left out.
Solution: Limit playdates to a single kid at a time. This way, your child has a better chance of connecting with the friend.

Problem: Your child becomes anxious before playdates.
Solution: Talk in advance about when the playdate will occur and what will happen. Role-play different scenarios. The morning of the playdate, let your child do a relaxing activity. Talk again about what will happen when the friend arrives.

Problem: A half-hour into the playdate, your kid is done.
Solution: Invite the other child’s parents and feel comfortable ending the playdate early. Thirty minutes of fun, successful play is better for everyone than 90 minutes of misery.

Problem: Your child is hesitant to have playdates at all.
Solution: Let your child have as much input about the playdate as possible—who to invite, where to go, what to do. Remind your child that as with lots of skills, making friends takes time and practice.
Graphic of At a Glance: Playdate Problems and How to Handle Them
Graphic of At a Glance: Playdate Problems and How to Handle Them

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About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright is a veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Elizabeth Harstad

Elizabeth Harstad, M.D., M.P.H., is a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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