On your child's next play date
make sure you set some ground rules

A play date is great when your kids want to play with friends. It's also a great opportunity to encourage socialization and get a parenting break at the same time. Unless the child is the son or daughter of a friend of mine, I usually like to encourage my kids to play with friends at my house, unless I know the family well. . When a friend comes over to play, it's important to start off on the right foot, especially if it's the first time he or she has come to your home. Here are my three steps to have a good play date:

1. Clarify expectations and go through your family rules
I usually approach this in a friendly way, and first ask the guest what rules they have at home. Then I explain our family rules, emphasizing that you can't have fun without safety, and that's what he's here for.

2. Check in frequently
Kids are good, but can sometimes can get into trouble when left to their own devices. If we are hosting a child the age of my oldest and they are playing also with my other younger kids, I think about potential for sibling strife . If the kids on the play date want to play without sibling interference, you need to prepare the sibling ahead of time and possibly have a plan for him of her. Boredom and exclusion do not usually yield good behavior.

3. Offer a healthy snack plate
Active kids need sustanance, and offering a snack plate is an easy way to check in with them and to give a quick nutritious snack . I usually just prepare one big plate with easy finger food, like fruit, nuts, crackers, whatever I have, and let them go at it.

If your child is the one who is a guest in a friend's home, I approach it a little differently. I encourage good communication with the mother of the friend. I would want to meet her if possible, or at least chat on the phone before allowing my child to go to her house. I explain to her to please contact me with any question or problem.

The only other thing to remind my child is the importance of good manners . My sons represent my parenting when they leave my home, so I expect them to remember good behavior and manners.
So the next time your child is on either side of a play date, make sure you have a little structure to it to ensure a safe, good time for all.

Go to Stranger Danger from Play Date