For many parents, their kid’s friendships can be a source of anxiety, as they worry about what influence the friends might have on their child, how many friendships their child will have, and whether these friends will cause happiness or upset. As your child gets older, parents need to take a step back and let their kid navigate the tricky world of friendships, but when they are younger you will inevitably have more of a hands-on role. If you and your kid have invited a friend over for a playdate, read these handy tips to ensure all goes smoothly.
Invite the Parent, Too
This is less necessary as children get older, but still worth considering if you think this new friend might be particularly anxious (or disruptive). Having their parent there should make your kid’s friend feel more settled and confident. It also gives you a chance to get to know this other parent better—you might make a new friend in the process, and you should also be able to work out something about their parenting style. That way, if the friend comes back for another playdate without their parent, you have an idea of how to manage things if they get out of control.
Begin With a Group Activity
When the friend first arrives, encourage the kids to stick around downstairs for a bit. Maybe you’d like them to help you decorate a cake or help out in the garden. Spending time with an adult with help both your kid and their friend feel reassured, and it will show your kid’s friend that you are a kind, easy-going person.
Talk to Your Kid
If your child insists on spending the entire playdate with their friend in their room, don’t argue back. Children need to develop their sense of independence and autonomy. Check their room before the playdate, ensuring that there’s nothing dangerous in there and that your child has plenty of toys and activities to keep them and their pal occupied. Also, make sure to check in with your kid before the playdate – let them know that if they feel upset or uncomfortable at any point during the playdate, they can come and find you and you will listen.