Playdates can help toddlers develop social skills (and give moms a chance to meet and actually have adult conversation). But between happily playing with building blocks and sharing cookies, there will be the inevitable tantrum. How can moms deal with these meltdowns?
Fighting over toys
“It’s mine!” one child screams. Before jumping in, quietly observe the tension and see if your child can deal with it himself. If there’s a lot of sobbing and screaming, then
suggest other toys they might like, but, ultimately, let them decide on how the toy should be shared. This is also a good time to create a diversion and bring out the time-tested favorite like stickers or a juice break.
Frustration with a toy
If the blocks keep falling down or the puzzles won’t fit, resist the temptation to come rushing in to set it up for them. With enough practice they will get it eventually, fine tune their organizational and motor skills and learn to deal with frustration. If they start throwing things, gently point out the next step (“Why don’t you try turning the puzzle piece around?”) but don’t actually do it yourself.
Biting and hitting
When your toddler inflicts harm on another or when the playdate turns into a battle, by all means step in. Remove the toy that is causing the tension, and say, “No hitting.” This may be a good time for a watered-down timeout—not a punishment, really, but time away from each other to let emotions diffuse. Toddlers bear no grudges so once the feelings pass they will be able to play well together. After the play date you can talk about the importance of being kind and thoughtful towards others and teach him there is always a better way to get what he wants.
Toys aren’t fun anymore? Time to bring out some crafts or some special activity that will keep them busy, like water guns or chalks to draw on the sidewalk with.
Might be a good time for snacks as well, and getting the kids involved (shaping sandwiches with cookie cutters or deciding what fruits to put in their smoothie can add an extra dimension of fun.
Of course, it pays to plan ahead. Read our tips on tantrum-free playdates.
Photo from allthingsmama.com