Updated: Sep 4
With my clan, I have what I call “play date protocol” . This is basic social skill habits we are working on when playing with friends. Key word, working on.
It takes many takes and tries to figure out how to interact with kindness and consideration.
If you are a parent with littles, I want you to see play dates as practice, not a performance.
Will your child meltdown when a friend takes a toy they are playing with? Yes.
Will your child hit at the park when you have never seen that kind of behavior at home? Maybe.
Will your child cling to you instead of trying to mingle with new friends? Perhaps.
Will your child cry when you tell them it’s time to leave? Probably.
None of these things are bad, as starters. They are a place to explain appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
Here’s our list we are sticking with in this season to help teach helpful habits while interacting with others.
Eyes before toys. (Say “hello” and “thank you” to the adult and friend before you run to play)
Sharing hands. (Ask a friend for something you want with palm up. Wait and let the other person put the toy in your hand. No toy snatching)
No dumping. (We take toys out one at a time with gentleness. No dumping baskets or pulling out every toy in the drawer)
Grateful goodbye. (When it’s time to go, we leave with a calm body and grateful voice)
For me, I go over our 4 play date reminders on the way to a play date. (Or as we are preparing our home if friends are coming to us). It sounds like a quiz not a lecture. This takes 30 -60 seconds max.
Oliver, when we get to Mrs. Sally’s house are you going to go straight to Jeremy’s fire truck or straight to Mrs Sally?
Eleanor, can you show me sharing hands?
Oliver, how do we look through toys? One at a time or dumping toys everywhere?
When mama says “it’s time to go” do we fall of the floor and cry or say yes ma’am?
This may sound intense, but it helps so much!
Then while at the play date, know that there is so much grace! My friends know I write about motherhood, I have a degree in child development, and my kids still scream and have a hard time with transitions from time to time. And guess what? No one is judging. People you do life with are on your team! You work together, you see behavior prayer points, you give grace when needed and celebrate when you see progress together.
I hope you reach out this week for a play date. No theme needed. Just “meet us at the park?” Or “I got new coffee creamer if you want to swing by for coffee and an hour play date.” It’s so good for your kids (and you!)
Keep putting in the work! Friendship (for littles and adults) is always worth the time. And as you form good manners and social habits, your children will be a blessing not a burden to friends, moms, teachers, and coaches in the future.
Don’t forget…The Cirkles are cheering you on!
Also…today marks 3 years of this blog. So happy birthday to TheCirkles.com ❤️. I pray you’ve found hope and hacks during this journey.