5 Tips For A Happy, Tear-Free Playdate For 3 Year Olds

3-year-olds are extremely skilled at expressing emotions with both adults and children. They smile, hug, ask questions and have a basic understanding of feelings which means it’s a perfect age to start hosting more independent playdates.

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At three children can play with other children rather than just “side-by-side” parallel play even if they aren’t quite ready to be completely free of mom or dad’s watchful eye.

Here are 5 super simple things you can do to help facilitate a happy playdate that doesn’t end in a meltdown.

Mind the time.

Set a start time and end time — 3-year-olds tend to do best with about an hour of play time. Once a child gets crabby, bored or distracted the tears are more likely to flow.

Two’s company, Three’s a possible tear fest.

While multiple children at parties and other events is a good way for 3-year-olds to hone their social skills, play dates are often better with two children. Odd numbers can mean someone could be left out and communication and sharing are a bit simpler one-on-one.

Don’t force interactions.

3-year-olds are used to playing in their own bubble while other kids play nearby (parallel play) and there’s no need to force side-by-side play. Eventually your two playmates will start to interact on their own out of curiosity and friendship.

Snack time is your friend.

Offering a small snack provides a distraction for children who are getting grumpy or bored. Not many tears are shed during milk and cookie time! Tip – Don’t offer too many choices — in this case mom knows best.

Give a 10-Minute Warning.

3-three-year olds can’t think too far in advance but a gentle reminder that Jake’s mom is coming to take him home in 10-minutes might help in transitioning to the end of a play date.

Three is a wonderful age to start building friendships and with just a bit of planning your play date is sure to have smooth sailing.

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