Hosting Productive Play Dates

A step-by-step plan to help adoptive parents plan successful outings and play dates for children and their friends.

Three girls ride scooters and bikes during a play date.

How can you ensure that your child and her guest have a fun play date that deepens their friendship? Follow these steps.

Planning the Play Date

1. Have your child play detective (find two things she and her guest would like to do together), and help you to plan activities.

2. Set up the play date with the guests parent, confirming the date and time. Start with a two-hour play date, and ease into longer ones after several successes.

3. Make sure siblings are otherwise occupied. Developing a friendship is important business, best done one-on-one, without interference. You can make the host child’s room off limits during a play date, schedule a play date for siblings at the same time, or just try to keep the sibling busy with an activity. Perhaps your partner can take the sibling on a special outing.

Immediately Before the Play Date

4. Clean up the play space with your child, but don’t threaten to cancel the play date if she doesn’t do enough. Have your child put away any toys she doesn’t want to share. Remind her that she has to share whatever is left out.

5. Prepare to be a good host. Have some snacks ready. Make non-interactive activities (like TV or video games) off limits, because they wont deepen the friendship.

During the Play Date

6. Supervise, but don’t include yourself. Offer snacks and chat with the guest briefly when the children get tired of playing, but let your child be responsible for the entertainment.

7. Exchange pleasantries when the guests parents pick her up.

After the Play Date

8. Ask your child how the play date went. You probably remained within earshot, so you have a general sense, but ask your child if she had a good time and would like to play with her guest again. Praise your child for being a good sport, a gracious host, or anything else she did well.

9. If your child enjoyed the play date, exchange play dates with the guest.

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from Friends Forever, by Fred Frankel, Ph.D. Copyright 2010 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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