PLAY DATE PREPARATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Play dates are a great way for kids to meet new people, develop friendships, and learn about other cultures. Once they’ve outgrown the toddler period, kids will want to visit friends’ houses independently, without their parents or other caregivers.

In order to guarantee that your child has a safe and enjoyable time at a playdate, it’s a good idea to acquire important information from the parents or guardians of their playmates. How do you ask these questions without being intrusive to the other parents? Here are some examples.

Asking Questions Before a Play Date Has Benefits.

To avoid being viewed as that parent, many parents are wary of asking a possible playmate’s parents for information, like the overbearing helicopter parent constantly in charge of their child’s environment.

To be clear: You’re investing your faith in someone else when you hand up your child to another adult, even for a short period of time. If you were to drop your child off at a daycare facility or a school, you wouldn’t do so without first conducting a comprehensive background check.

Sadly, houses are not always safe places for children to play. Every year, over 3.5 million children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for ordinary household mishaps, ranging from poisonings to recreational injuries to accidental gun use. As a parent, it’s a good idea to discuss the activities your children will be engaging in and the fundamental safety measures in place with another parent.

Conversations, not interrogations, are a better means of avoiding appearing suspicious. Let the other parents know that you expect them to check on these things about your household before their child arrives at your home and before you ask them any questions.

What to Think About Before Taking Your Child on a Play Date with Another Parent

It’s a good idea to contact the parent or guardian of your child’s friend a few days before the play date to discuss any concerns you have. For the first time, spend some time getting to know this person’s personality. Sharing information about where you grew up, whether you have other children, and when you joined the school or group your children met is OK.

Once you’ve built a relationship with your child, you’re free to talk about anything related to their safety at home. You may have concerns about your child that are unique to them. To be sure, you’d inquire about food and dogs if you have a youngster with allergies. However, there are some playdate-related facts that all parents should be aware of.

Who Is Watching Your Child While You’re at Work?

How closely will the children be monitored?? Is there an adult caregiver or one of the parents at home? Where will the children be playing, and will a parent or caretaker be on hand in case of a need, conflict, or other issue?

Leaving children to their own devices, whether at home alone or with a friend of the same age, is never a good idea. Only three states, Illinois (14), Maryland (8), and Oregon, have formal legislation indicating a minimum age at which a kid can be left alone at home (10). According to the Nemours Foundation, unattended children under the age of 10 are not recommended.

A caregiver who has never been screened or you don’t know is the last thing you want your child to be exposed to. Make sure you know who is in charge if you discover that a sibling, a family member, or a babysitter is in the picture. Before you leave your child with that guardian, make an effort to speak with them one-on-one.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever let someone intrude on your child’s privacy, make them uncomfortable, or encourage them to keep secrets from you if you’re going to leave them in the care of another adult. Keeping your children safe doesn’t just mean keeping them safe from strangers; it also means protecting them from individuals they already know.

How Many Guns Are in the House?

A gun is found in one out of every three American families with children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In addition, about 1.7 million youngsters are exposed to a firearm that has not been properly secured in the home. Asking about weapons before a kid goes to a friend’s, relative’s, or neighbor’s house to play is recommended by the AAP and the ASK/Brady Campaign for Preventing Gun Violence.

Make sure to keep in mind that simply educating children about the hazards of guns is not sufficient. Children may still be fascinated and enticed by firearms, according to new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Even if the guns are hidden, someone may still search for them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping guns out of the house and, if they can’t be removed, making sure they’re locked away from children and teens.

What Young People Will Do

It’s important to avoid pressuring the host to schedule elaborate playdates, but you can obtain a broad idea of what’s planned so that your child isn’t put in harm’s way.

Asking if the kids want to go outdoors to play and, if so, whether an adult will accompany them might give you a better idea of the potential threats. What about helmets if they’re going to be biking? Do you know of any pools, trampolines, or ride-on toys that have been known to injure children?

Even on a “silent” play date in the comfort of someone’s home, youngsters are increasingly becoming digitally savvy and thus vulnerable to exposure to upsetting or hazardous content. Your child’s friend’s guardian should be asked if the children will be allowed to use a computer or other electronic device and if an adult will supervise and be there.

Make it clear if you don’t want your youngster to watch or play anything rated higher than “E” or rated higher than PG-13. Don’t assume that all parents follow your rating preference. Some parents are OK with their children playing Call of Duty or watching R-rated movies at eight.

Say that you haven’t authorized these things for your child yet if you disagree (although you can see that many other parents have, and what’s frightening for one kid may not be for another). If you don’t think your youngster is ready for more mature stuff, tell them.

Helpful related article: Is Violent Play a Concern for ParentsWays to Break Into Playground SquabblesAn Etiquette Handbook for the Playground