Three Things You Should Do Before You Let Your Child Go On A Playdate
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Playdates start at a really young age. As old as three, parents of other preschoolers were asking for my child to come over. At three, I’d usually tag along but by four, it was customary to drop your child off and pick up later.
Here are three things you should do before you ever let your child go to someone else’s house.
First, set up an escape plan for your child. When my daughter was in kindergarten, she went to a friend’s house where she’d been several times before. I picked her up hours later and as soon as we were in the car, she burst into tears saying her friend was being mean and kept saying that she wished my daughter would go home. The friend’s mom had no idea because she was downstairs while the girls were in the upstairs playroom. My daughter didn’t know what to do other than just feel horrible and wait for the playdate to end.
Now before every play date, I remind them that they can leave at any time. All they need to do if they want to go, is to go up to the other child’s parent and tell her that they aren’t feeling well and to call me. I’ll pick them up right away. It’s so simple but it never occurred to her. Because they’re still young, I reiterate this before each drop off and remind them that telling the other parent to call me will always be okay.
Two, I always set a clear pick up time and rules for pick up behavior. We’ve had kids being picked up from our house who don’t want to go home, so they go and hide from their parents. Another child was physically carried out by her father. Setting a clear pick up rule has eliminated this problem for us. They know exactly how long the playdate is, and when I arrive they have a few minutes to finish what they’re doing and put their shoes on. Any funny business and they won’t be allowed future play dates. Simple. And it works. I’ve never had to chase them around someone’s house. They come right to the door and put on their shoes and leave.
Finally, from a safety standpoint, I always ask about dogs. I was at a friend’s house with two of my older kids and they had a small dog. He was in the room with us, and my daughter and her friend were doing gymnastics and falling on the floor. The dog started growling and lunged at her and bit her. Thank goodness I was right there to pull her away and the owner grabbed his dog.
Kids can be wild and play rough and that can be confusing for a dog- especially one that is protective of his kids! Finding out beforehand what type of dog is there and where he’ll be during the playdate is a must now. Some kids are comfortable with dogs and this isn’t a deal breaker! But other kids (like mine!) are nervous and it’s important to ask this beforehand and decide if the child will be in an environment everyone is comfortable with. I usually just mention my child is afraid of dogs to open this conversation.
Moving into the world of playdates requires some extra planning and thought but with these three rules it’s sure to be a smooth transition.