How to Have a Successful Play Date
General Play Date Tips
Establish time limits. It helps to have some idea of how long the play date is expected to last so you spare yourself the uncomfortable feeling of wondering whether you should leave (if you're the guest), or a similarly uncomfortable situation of wishing someone else would leave (if you're the host). Sometimes, kids don't do well with long periods of play. Shy or quiet children can easily become overwhelmed by too much activity in a group of other kids. Whatever the reason, see if you and the other moms can agree on a time slot - say from 1-2:30 p.m.- for the play date. That way everyone knows the limits and can plan their day accordingly.
Stress the importance of sharing. Play dates involve plenty of sharing, which can bring out the tantrum monster in some kids. If your child is one of them, inform him that if he wants to play with his friend, he'll have to learn to share. Needless to say, this conversation likely won't solve your child's sharing problem, but it's a start. Most kids understand the concept of sharing around the age of 4. Being in a group of children with other kids who are learning to share may help your child learn this important skill.
Deal with difficult behavior. If your child causes trouble, be prepared to deal with the situation. It can be difficult to discipline your child when other parents are watching, but it's necessary when the situation warrants it. Try to be fair and even-handed. Let other parents deal with their children while you handle your own.
Avoid comparison. Even when babies or kids in a group are around the same age, there's bound to be some differences in their growth and development. Don't get caught up comparing your child to others. It will lead to self-doubt, petty jealousies and unnecessary anxiety.
Don't bring a sick child to a play date. This one is self-explanatory. If your child seems to be coming down with something, skip or reschedule the play date.If You're Hosting The Play Date
Select and Protect. You're opening up your home to your friends and their children, but you don't have to open your entire home and all your belongings to the ravages of playing children. Select which room(s) you'll use for the play date, and if you can, close off the area. Protect your little guests by making sure the area is childproof and safe for play, with obstructive furniture moved off to side. Protect your belongings by removing from the area any item that is delicate or valuable. If your child has certain special toys she's unwilling to share (or you're unwilling to let her share) make sure they're safely out of sight.