Teaching children to get along with others, resolve conflicts easily, pick up on social cues, and understand the complex dance of human interaction is important for many parents. Indeed, there has been an ever-increasing focus on socializing children at younger and younger ages. This has resulted in a culture that does not find it peculiar to host a group of two-year-olds for a birthday party, to insist four-year-olds should master the art of sharing, and to place a high value on time spent with “friends”.

Enter the modern playdate: a scheduled eventlasting an hour or more, where parents supervise,and give shape to, activities that are meant tocultivate friendships and teach social skills and conflict resolution strategies. Unfortunately, sometimes playdates go sour even with the most easy-going of children. Somebody is pushed, a toy isn’t fairly shared, one child’s interests don’t match up with the other’s, and the whole thing begins to get a little messy. Parents step in to remind kids of rules, insist on equal time with the favorite toy, or encourage a change in activity. This lasts for a little while and then it all goes sideways again, with parents stepping in once more to run interference. The children become increasingly disenchanted with each other and invariably somebody wants to go home.

Sound familiar?

Read the rest of this article, as seen in the summer issue of EcoParent, via the links below.

Piloting the Playdate Page One

Piloting the Playdate Page Two

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Dr V