While many children excel in the realm of social interactions, others struggle with learning to play with their peers. When children have problems making friends in school or social settings, play dates can be a valuable means of developing their social skills.
For children, the ability to form friendships inside and outside of school is vital to their future success. As bestselling author John Gottman, PhD states, "...even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life."
Play dates are vital for children because they offer them the opportunity to connect with their peers outside of the structured classroom setting. They also enhance children's language, social skills, and self-esteem. By providing an organic setting where a child is able to connect with classmates, students can carry these relationships back into the classroom. Play dates build children's confidence and make them more comfortable, which is especially important for students with speech, language, and emotional challenges.
Even for parents and children who have had negative experiences with play dates in the past, educators and therapists agree play dates are vital for children's development. For some students it may be difficult to schedule play dates. Many children have over-scheduled and complex lives, and parents are busy too, but particularly over the holiday season it is critical to keep children connected to school and the social skills they have been learning.
Play Date Tips and Ideas
Limit the length of the play date. Start with 30 to 45 minutes, and be prepared to cut the date short to make sure it is a positive experience for both children.
Preview the play date with your child. Let him/her know the time, location, who they will be playing with, where they will be playing, and the rules for play.
While keeping the play date as natural as possible, be prepared to coach your child when needed. Plan snacks, activities, and strategies to make the transitions easy for your child.
The Team Esteem approach will prepare your child to have many successful play dates! Schedule a Parent Strategy Session to get one-on-one personalized help from Jamie, who will work with you and your child's team to build your child's social skills!
Want your child to get invited to play dates? To build their communication and social skills? Sign up for a personalized Parent Strategy Session with Jamie today!