Monday, September 29, 2008


Parting is such sweet sorrow. Well, it is for my kids that is. My two girls have a hard time saying goodbye when it comes to play dates. Rarely do we have an easy goodbye. What we do get is a lot of crying and protesting. Sound familiar to anyone else?

It's a familiar story for Patsy Spanos. She is the mother of 2 1/2 year old twins and a 5 year old boy. She says she noticed things were not going smoothly when she put her oldest son in daycare ahead of the arrival of the twins. “From the very start his reaction was out of the normal range. I am talking about crying and screaming at the top of his lungs not for a little while but until his little lungs couldn't provide him the ability to go any longer.” says Spanos. He gets very attached with his friends and teachers and struggles when they leave or he leaves the classroom or play date.

Play-dates are king it seems these days. What kid would be without a few play-dates on their social calendar? We parents spend a lot of time making sure our children have friends and play dates but how much time do we take to teach our kids how to be good friends and have good play-dates. Parenting expert and author, Alyson Schafer says “like anything else I would treat it like a power struggle, I would treat it as a discipline issue that you need to train around” Schafer says it’s important to set out the ground rules early.

Spanos says communication is key for her. “Talking through the scenario and not being hard on him and taking baby steps in every situation helps.”, says Spanos.

Schafer stresses that you don't have to brilliant in the moment. You just have to offer choice. Schafer says marking play dates on a calendar is important. If children it’s on the calendar then it’s something to look forward to. Schafer also recommends weekly family meetings, giving everyone a chance to have a say in the planning.

More tips for a successful play-date
1. Give the other parent plenty of notice. This falls in line with Alyson Schafer’s recommendation to put play-dates on the calendar. Planning is a good idea.
2. Choose a mutually agreeable location.
3. Impose a time limit ahead of time. This step ensures that everyone knows what’s expected.
4. Set rules and make sure all children involved understand them.
5. Step aside and let the kids play. A hovering parent can add an unnatural element to children’s play and make everybody uncomfortable.
Patsy Spanos now blogs about the trials and tribulations of parenting at . You can get more parenting tips from Alyson Schafer at her website,
You and see the full article at