5 rules for turning the volume down on crazy play dates

Posted: September 7, 2018

child with finger up to mouth in symbol of silence

5 rules for turning the volume down on crazy play dates

Play dates can bring huge benefits. Sometimes, the prospect of some adult conversation and a change of scene can be what keep parents sane. For children, particularly those who are more shy or do not attend a nursery, the benefits can be immeasurable.

Play and games are vital for a child’s development, and socialising with other children helps to teach important social skills. Through interacting with others of a similar age, they can learn to appreciateother points of view, sharing, taking turns, problem solving and communication. 

Play date dramas

Play dates are an opportunity for both parents and children to interact with others in a positive, healthy way, but they can quickly go from fun to chaos in the blink of an eye. Strong personalities can result in confrontation. Boisterous behaviour can lead to a lot of mess (commonly known as a ‘toy-nami’), and shy characters can become overwhelmed and cling to their parents until they go home. 

So in celebration of National Quiet Day, how do you direct a play date to lower the volume without stifling the helpful benefits that children can obtain through free play?

1. Plan the right number. Too many children will result in carnage from the off, and odd numbers may mean a child is left out. Keep groups small, or even one-to-one to encourage valuable interaction.

2. Keep it short and sweet. Suggest play dates last no longer than 1-2 hours. The longer it lasts, the more tired and grumpy kids tend to get. Keeping it shorter means that everyone leaves wanting more.

3. Get them outside. If weather permits, let them burn off their energy (and noise) outside!

4. Plan for some ‘re-direction’. Allow for free play, but have some ideas up your sleeve of toys, games or drawing that you can easily direct children to should conflict or boredom strike. 

5. Be realistic. It quite common for play dates to not quite go how you’d imagined. Arguments will happen and other parents may not take your approach in dealing with them, so tackle them with a calm and reasonable manner.