Keep playdates short. An hour is fine for a first visit. As the children become more comfortable with each other, subsequent visits can be extended by one or two hours. Avoid scheduling playdates too close to nap time. And end the date early if you sense that your child is getting overwhelmed.
Plan activities you know will be of interest to your child. This will help her remain engaged and feel successful. Keep several backup options in mind so you can switch to a new activity if the current one starts to lose its appeal.
Stock up on snacks that both children will enjoy (and will not trigger allergies). Bake cookies or do other activities that will help increase the other child’s enjoyment and make her want to come back.
About 10 minutes before the playdate is scheduled to end, announce that it’s time to clean up. Set a timer and challenge the children to finish the cleanup before the timer goes off.
What you can say
“OK, Sofia and Sadie, after your snack, you can keep playing for a little longer. I’ll let you know when it’s time to clean up the toys so that Sadie will be ready when her mom arrives.”
Why this will help
With the right game plan, playdates can be fun for everyone. With practice, they can help set your child up for a lifetime of good friendships.
Keeping playdates short will help avoid meltdowns, squabbles and other misbehaviors. Giving fair warning by announcing that the playdate is nearly over and initiating cleanup time increases the likelihood that the playdate will end on a high note. A timer can help motivate kids by making cleanup feel like a game.
Explore more tips on how to arrange successful playdates.