On a typical play date, there’ll be sharing, then some crying (probably as one child takes a coveted toy away from another), and then there’ll be a brief check-in with mom, before your child is off again. During those interactions, your child has acquired some vital skills, according to creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush.
Here’s 5 reasons why you should plan play dates:
1. They teach your child about trust and independence. “When your child sees you interacting with your own friends, she learns that she can trust people besides you.”
2. Children are multi-sensory beings, and we need to feed all of their senses. Mixing with different people in different settings makes this possible.
3. By participating in games and setting their own rules of engagement, children come to understand how to interact with others and behave according to society’s norms.
4. Each mode of play teaches something: sharing toys teaches children to share space, for example, while participating in fantasy play lets children choose and experiment with different roles.
5. In our time-starved, ultra-supervised world, children can become stressed if they don’t have an outlet to play. Play dates give them this opportunity.
How often should you organise play dates?
Nikki says that play dates should be frequent (at least one a week), and they should start early. “Even very young babies will benefit from socialising with others at mother and child groups. This allows them to become used to you speaking to other people; plus, they’ll start to see and understand the dynamics of conversation,” she explains.