How Necessary Are Playdates?
Sun, April 18, 2021

How Necessary Are Playdates?

Parents are always concerned about the safety of their children, most especially today when times have really changed and danger lurks at even the most unexpected places / Photo by: SylwiaAptacy via Pixabay

 

Parents are always concerned about the safety of their children, most especially today when times have really changed and danger lurks at even the most unexpected places. Little kids, in particular, are most vulnerable to criminals that prey on the innocent and the people who trust easily. 

Children spend their time in school most of the time. This is where they meet new friends whom they can have playdates with. But there are some parents who are not keen on having their children go on playdates for security reasons. Fatherly, the leading digital media brand for dads, mentioned in their article that a survey from the University of Michigan noted that when parents don’t allow their children to go on playdates, they are actually failing their duty as parents. 

 

Social Skills

As parents become too concerned about criminals and bad people around, they might prevent their children to connect with their peers. This might be a hard pill to swallow, but socializing is an important aspect of childhood development and it does come with a price. It can lead to your child interacting with strangers and you just hope that those people are not part of a kidnapping syndicate. 

Good Housekeeping, a women's magazine owned by the Hearst Corporation, reported how playdates encourage social skills. Emily W. King, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, noted that playdates are “not absolutely necessary if a child is getting daily exposure to children in preschool, school, and park playgrounds.” What’s important is that children are having regular social exposure with their peers. 

This exposure can prove valuable in having kids to work on their play skills at a similar social developmental level. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) noted that having a playdate with kids their own age can be helpful for children to learn social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills. According to the AAP report, children with great social skills do great when it comes to focus, problem-solving skills, and following directions. 

This might be a hard pill to swallow, but socializing is an important aspect of childhood development and it does come with a price / Photo by: dennies025 via Pixabay

 

Safety vs. Socialization

Socialization means that one must be open when it comes to meeting new people. Thus, parents will have to allow their children to interact with strangers. Researchers from the University of Michigan worked with the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health for a survey, interviewing 881 parents with at least one child between the ages of 4 to 9 years old. They found out that 48 percent of these parents admitted that they avoided a playdate for their children because they felt uncomfortable with the idea of leaving them without their supervision. As for those who let their children go on a playdate, 1 in 4 said that they asked prior questions regarding child safety or parenting practices before the playdate. 

It is normal that parents will feel concerned about their kids’ safety. But they should not overdo things by isolating their kids instead of asking another parent about how they can make the playdate secure. The researchers noted that parents were reluctant to talk to others to know more about them and their families before letting their kids go on the playdate. So instead, they resort to cyberstalking, checking out the other parents’ social media accounts to get an idea of what kind of persons they are. In fact, 44 percent claimed that they would check on the other person’s social media account, and 30 percent would find out if they have criminal records. 

 

When Does the Playdate End?

Some might wonder if playdates are still necessary for their child’s age. Metro Parent, a company that produces family-focused publications, web content, events, and television segments, reported that it may be good news for parents that this “phase” does eventually end. 

Sooner or later, parents should let their kids loose and encourage them to be independent. Children should be able to choose their friends on their own. Parents must learn to keep some distance to allow their kids to make their own decision and reach out to other people. 

“As they get older you want to give them some more freedom to initiate some of these interactions with peers but also still kind of monitor it,” said Christina Mirtes, Ph.D., assistant professor of early childhood education at Eastern Michigan University. 

Sooner or later, parents should let their kids loose and encourage them to be independent. Children should be able to choose their friends on their own / Photo by: Francisco Osorio via Flickr

 

Planning a Playdate

If your child is still excited about the idea of having playdates with their friends, you could still set up a fun and exciting afternoon at your house. This will help you keep your mind at ease since you can make sure that your child is safe because they’re just inside your house. 

Before hosting or planning a playdate, you must listen carefully to whose name your child mentions every day. Ask your child if they want to have their friend to come and play in your house. It is also advisable to start with a smaller circle, at least just one friend. Verywell Family, a website that provides articles about parenting, mentioned that having an odd number of people in a party always ensure that someone might feel left out. 

Make sure that the playdate is intimate and short. Parents must remember that their children will need friends along the way. Sure, it is also part of their responsibility to keep their child safe, but that doesn’t mean that kids should feel isolated.