Parenting in Public – Play Dates

I must admit that I find play dates stressful. It was less complicated when there was just one child but it’s never been easy. Here’s how I address some of the common play date issues:


If we are hosting, I ask the child whose friend is coming over to set aside the toys that he is unwilling to share (obviously this has to be a reasonable number). Usually they pick only their favorite thing or what’s called the “love object.” While the friend is there, and I see that they are unwilling to share, I encourage them to “take turns,” (because it implies that they will also get a turn) instead of asking them to “share” (which makes them feel like they are giving up the toy). Sometimes I use a sand timer so they can see how much longer they have to wait for a turn. If I find them arguing over a toy, I simply take it away with, “if you decide not to take turns then you can’t have it until you decide you want to.” There might be some tears and complaints to the other parent but it settles down as soon as they find something else to play with.

Managing siblings

If the older one has a friend over, he doesn’t want his little brother in the way. The little one of course, wants to be in the middle of things. As much as I would like the brothers to play together, I realize that isn’t always fair. So I try to set up activities for the little one that will keep him occupied or have dad take him out for some one on one time.

Keeping the peace

Oh the drama if someone doesn’t get their buy priligy tablets way. You would think it’s a houseful of teens! When they were younger, I had to intervene to stop the tears and the tantrums. It’s easiest to console them first and then try to resolve the issue. I hug them, try to identify what triggered it and state it verbally so they know I understand, then reflect the other child’s feelings, and finally try to resolve whatever it was they were upset about–not getting a turn, someone snatching something from them, not returning something, not doing what they want–the list is endless! Distraction with something else can work miracles in such situations. Now that the older one is closer to five, I encourage him to stay in the room and tell the friend what upset him without placing the blame on her: stating how he felt when something happened and how he wishes it to be different. If they are unable to resolve it on their own, I ask them to seek my help.

I’ve realized that the most peaceful play dates are those when the friend’s temperament matches that of my child and the parent’s parenting style is similar to mine. I try to arrange that whenever possible but things aren’t always perfect! It was so much simpler when we were kids!

Sara Zaidi is a child therapist and the creator of Building Healthy Minds and Happy Families. With advanced degrees in psychology and mental health and over ten years of clinical experience, Sara helps parents navigate through the challenging early stages of their children’s lives by explaining the cognitive, emotional and social development of children from a neurological and behavioral perspective. Read her parenting blog at and visit to learn more about her work. 

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Sara Zaidi

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