The do's and don'ts of getting kids together
At their best, playdates are win-win events. They help toddlers and preschoolers develop social skills, even when the kids are merely playing side by side, says Jennifer Sabatini, a professor of early childhood education at Seneca College in Toronto. “And they give moms and dads a much-needed chance to socialize with other parents,” says Sabatini. Here’s how to maximize the fun for everyone.
Do put safety first If the playdate is at your house, double-check your childproofing. Young visitors may be attracted to places and objects your own child has already learned are off limits.
Don’t let it run too long One hour is usually enough for toddlers and 1½ hours for older kids (ages three to five) if they’ve played together before, says Sabatini. Any longer and the playdate can break down as kids get hungry, tired or bored with each other.
Do have realistic expectations Just because your tot is ignoring her guest and stacking blocks on her own doesn’t mean the date is a dud. “Children under 2½ don’t usually play interactively yet,” says Sabatini. “But they have to start somewhere.”