8 Tips for a Positive Play Date
1: A good starter for positive play dates is if you are hosting the date always check with the parent if their child has any food allergies, as usually a play date will involve lunch or snacks. Also check with parent that there toddler is ok around pets (if you have one) as a toddler may be scared or allergic to cats & dogs!
2: Plan ahead by organising fun activities, making sure there are plenty of materials for the toddlers to play with. If a squabble breaks out with the toddlers over a toy then be prepared to step in and get involved with their play, showing them how to share and take turns. Use lots of positive praise for good sharing, adults are good role models and can make the children feel more at ease.
3: For a successful play date limit the number of toddlers you invite. Remember 3’s a crowd!!
4: If the child you have invited shows negative behaviour towards your child distraction is a positive way to diffuse these issues! If the parent has stayed for the play date and she allows the behaviour to continue I would have a gentle word with her and put the ball in her court, asking her the question “how shall we deal with this?”
5: Toddlers having difficulty sharing on a play date? Talk to the child/children about sharing, ” it’s so much more fun when we make the building tower together”! If your child has a cherished toy pop it away before the play date. Try turn taking; for a top tip use a kitchen timer; it’s a really good way to encourage sharing. Tell the child when the bell rings it’s time to swop toys, it may take a few goes but they will get it! By introducing the concept of sharing they will start to understand what turn taking means. (“it’s Johnny’s turn to use the scooter, then it will be your turn. I’ll help you wait”). Always follow up with a positive phrase, “good waiting”.
6: Always point out the positives, why it’s good to share! If all else fails take the toy away for a while!
7: Positive play dates are so valuable for toddler’s social and emotional development as they are exposed to a variety of challenges & situations, rewarding them and reinforcing positive behaviours.
8: Keep play dates short, 2 hours is plenty long enough, any longer and they can get over stimulated!