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Parenting advice for planning a great play date

Author Alex Bellamy
Submitted 12-08-2010

For many dads, planning a play date does not come naturally. After all, keeping your own kid entertained for hours on end each day is tough enough, why would you add another one into the mix?

All joking aside, play dates help kids build social skills while having fun.

There are a few parenting advice tips dads should keep in mind when planning a play date.

1. Let your child take the lead. If you notice that he or she naturally gravitates toward a certain child or is requesting to play more with him or her, you may want to set a date. Keeping the get-together to one child is best, however, to avoid anyone being left out.

2. Talk with the other parent beforehand. A simple phone call or email will help you figure out if the child can be dropped off or should be accompanied by his or her mother, father or caretaker. This correspondence will also help you find out what types of activities and special needs are recommended.

3. Set a time limit. Start out with about an hour and build from there. You don’t want to be "stuck" if and when either child decides they no longer want to play together.

4. Have some activities ready. Yes, the kids should be doing the playing without you, but often need help in the beginning. Help get them started with ideas of what to do, or by participating in a game, project or activity. Having a snack break planned is also a good idea.

5. Supervise strategically. Remember that you may have to act as a referee every now and then, especially if the kids are younger.

If everything goes as planned, you may want to make play dates a part of your regular schedule. And, remember, all types of parenting experiences help you learn from your mistakes and be better prepared for the next time!
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