It is important that children get plenty of opportunities to play with other children. Having your son or daughter with another child is a good way to help them grow socially, intellectually, and physically. It is also a time for them to learn how to interact and gain the knowledge how to share, take turns, be polite, and respectful. Empathy is being practiced for they think about what the other child wants or needs. Children are exposed to new games in different settings. There is something uniquely different about a play date for it gives kids the opportunity to imagine, pretend, play silly, and be proud of their own abilities.
Let's not forget that play dates may also provide parents with chances to build relationships with other parents. Having someone who can share the joys and challenges you are experiencing is often helpful and reassuring.
Key Things to Remember
To stay or not to say. The age and temperament of your child are factors whether you stay at a play date or not. Remember that this is not free babysitting so discuss it ahead of time with the other parents to set expectations.
Set the time. A play date is much easier when you set a start and end time. 60 minutes to an hour and a half is ideal, with no more than 2 hours tops.
It's all about sharing. Discuss ahead with your child the toys he or she wants for the other kids to play with. Put out toys that are easier for multiple children to play with like building blocks, crayons and paper, etc.
Don't over plan. Make sure to ask the kids what they'd like to do. Let them feel that they are part of the planning. Be creative and introduce something new especially if an activity doesn't appeal to some of the other kids.
Set the rules. Explain to the kids about what is OK and what is not. A few examples are not letting them play with the water and turning on electronic appliances. Make sure to teach your child takes some responsibility for his/her friend.
Keep snacks simple. There is no need to offer something fancy especially if it will take too much of your time in the kitchen. Crackers, cheese, fruits and juice boxes are perfect choices.
Be gracious and offer to host a playdate. After another family hosted you and your child, it is nice to reciprocate and invite them to your own home for a follow-up playdate.
Have fun. Don't stress yourself out. You are simply opening your door for your kid to enjoy being with other children and this also gives you some time to unwind and connect with other moms who are in the same position as you are, just going through the same day in and day out challenges of being a parent.
Letting your children interact with peers develop important social skills. Play dates have the potential to help build your child’s self-esteem, their skills at interacting with others, and may help you make new friends.