Another play date or new play mate?

Phil McInnes

Most of us have arranged play dates for our children. Sometimes, it has gone well and at other times......well, let's just say that we "wrote it off to experience".

Are there things that we can do to positively influence these play dates? Yes, there are. Try these simple tips.

- If your child has a special toy that they will not share, put it away. It may be just a case of "out of sight is out of mind" or by arrangement with your child (you will know how to best do that".

When your child's play date arrives, before you sit down for a cup of tea with the mother or caregiver, play a simple game together.

- It could be that you sit in a circle and roll a ball to each other, naming the person that the ball is being rolled to. Research shows that acts of cooperating with a stranger seems to "turn on a positive response mechanism" and the children respond to their new play mate as a person and they are more prepared to share with them and help them.

- An alternative is that you could create a pretend story with a box. In this story, you pretend that there are some kittens sleeping in the box and that you need to wake them. Each adult and each child gets a plastic plate and you make up a song to "wake the little kittens up gently". You then parade around the box together gently tapping your plate and singing quietly "Wake up little kittens, wake up. It's time to wake up and play.......", or words to that effect. You and the children can then gently pick up the pretend kittens and put them in the garden to play. Again, research shows that this kind of activity engenders a spontaneous willingness for prosocial behaviour between kids.

The above two cooperative activities work wonders. Let us know what you think and share any ideas that you have.

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