Our top tips for a happy playdate

Hello parents! Are you looking for some tips on how to make your toddler’s playdate a success? Look no further! We’ve gathered some of our top tips for a happy and enjoyable playdate, with a focus on social interaction, inspired by the principles of Montessori education.

  • Encourage taking turns. Playdates are a great opportunity for toddlers to practice their social skills and build friendships. Encourage your toddler to take turns with their playmate, and model good behaviour yourself, remembering that toddlers need lots of practice to learn collaborative play.

  • Keep it simple. Toddlers are still learning about the world around them, so it’s best to stick to simple activities that they can easily understand and enjoy. Think colouring, play dough, pretend play or building with blocks.

  • Spare a thought on the location. Sometimes toddlers can show signs of possessiveness over belongings, people and personal space. A playdate on a neutral ground such as a park, a play area, or even a back garden can help, and can allow your child to easily move between solo playing and exploring play with their friend.

  • Encourage independence. Montessori education emphasizes the importance of allowing children to be independent and make their own choices. Encourage your toddler to choose their own toys and activities and let them explore spending time with their playmate at their own pace. Note that many two-year-olds are still too young for a drop-off play date.

  • Practising some everyday interactions can help your little one feel prepared, such as play invitations; “can I play that game with you?” or “do you want to build blocks with me?” or expressing feelings; “That isn’t fun” or “I don’t like that”.

  • Respect your toddler’s limits. It’s important to remember that toddlers have shorter attention spans and may become overwhelmed by too much stimulation. Respect your toddler’s boundaries and allow them to take breaks as needed.

  • If you are hosting it is a good idea to let your child know that they have a friend coming over the morning of the playdate – if you tell them the day before, or even earlier, they will likely find it difficult waiting as their understnading of ‘tomorrow’ or other time terms are still building. Mentioning it the same day is a great time “your friend is coming over after we have lunch”.

  • Put away any special items. Before the playdate it’s a good idea to talk to your child about the fact that their friend will be playing with some of their toys. If certain toys, books, loveys, and other playthings are particularly meaningful to your child, consider putting them away before a playdate. While learning to share is a long-term goal, you can also reassure your child that certain items don’t ever need to be shared.

  • Be prepared for a range of emotions before, and after the playdate, such as excitement, worry, nervousness, shyness and even sadness when it’s all over. These are all perfectly normal and talking to your toddler about their feelings will help them to understand them better.

You can create a fun and enjoyable playdate for your toddler and their friends, while also promoting social interaction and the development of important social skills. Happy playing!

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