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Play By The Rules: The Etiquette Of Play Dates.

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

We all now about social graces and office etiquette, but how many of us, especially those who are new and first-time parents, are familiar with the “politics” of the playground? Yes, there are rules and regulations, not only for children, but also for the parents, when it comes to play dates and making friends

· Give up the competitive edge: Sure you want to encourage your child to be his or her best and even exceed his or her potential, but not at the risk of offending or alienating other children or parents. It’s best NOT to compare your child to others, at least not within earshot or mom or dad, especially if you think your child “is” or “should be” superior. In fact, experts suggest “checking yourself” and making sure your over-invested interest isn’t more about your than your child. And, they suggest learning to let go, even if you child doesn’t share the same strengths as the other child. And, if you have any concerns about his or her development, you can always see your pediatrician and discuss the issue.

· Let go of healthy obsessions While there is NOTHING wrong with wanting your child to adhere to a strict diet and healthy choices, it’s best to hone in on these at home (unless of course he or she has serious allergies. Cut your kid some slack when it comes to junk food, especially when he or she get invited to a play date or to a party. Remember, not every parent will have organic whole wheat pizza and fresh squeezed veggie and fruit juice on hand, know where to find it, or be willing to get it. And, you certainly don’t want your kid ridiculed or to eventually be on the uninvited list because YOU are too difficult to please. Plus, allowing your child some freedom with food choices teaches him or her about avoiding temptation and making the right choice even when none are available. And, if you’re really concerned about your child taking advantage of too much of a “good” thing, maybe you can talk to the other mom about bringing some alternative choices for your kid and the others. And, make sure to continue cooking and eating healthy at home.

· Don’t micromanage: Remember, play dates are NOT adult parties and you don’t need them to be perfect. And, you also don’t need to hover over kids for everything they do, this will only make you unwanted since you’ll be seen as either nervous, a pest, or both. Plus, the more you try to control, the more resistant your child (and the others) will be. Instead go over ALL the rules with your child before the other kids arrive and make sure he or she completely understands you, giving your child confidence by placing authority in his or her hand, once he crowd arrives and the play date begins. And, unless there is a physical fight or your child comes to ask for your assistance, always keep an eye out, but let your child handle the situation, especially once the other kids are there.

· Check yourself: Make sure YOU are not the one setting the bad example (for your child) Don’t just drop off your kid at someone else’s house, using the play date as an excuse to go to the mall or to do some other shopping. Nor should you take something (a toy) out without putting it back in its proper place. Remember, kids mimic what they see.

· Leave the attitude at the door: Even if you don’t always like what you hear or see, there’s no reason to project your “prejudice” on your child or children. Instead, be nice to others, and if there’s something you really don’t like about someone, at least give them another chance or two, then simply ask her to bring her child to your place due to scheduling circumstances. After all you don’t necessarily want to alienate your child’s friends, especially at a very young age. And, remember, it’s always best, for the most part, to keep (negative) opinions to yourself.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Play By The Rules: The Etiquette Of Play Dates.

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