Limiting play dates

Play dates for two- to 3-year-olds work best if they’re limited to two children close in age, somewhat structured in terms of activities, and supervised by both sets of parents.

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When tots socialize

Around the time he turns 2, your toddler will start to actively reach out to other children. But as with any other skill, he learns how to socialize with others by trial and error.

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Limiting play dates

Unless you relish the idea of a pair of hyper toddlers trashing your entire house, limit the domain of play dates. You can either gate off a single room or simply shut doors to rooms that are off-limits.

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Keeping occupied while playing

After your toddler starts to play on his/her own, keep a magazine nearby and sneak a peek at a page while she is stacking blocks. It’s okay to take a break! She’ll let you know when she needs some more attention, interaction, or direction.

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Activity: Playtime

Be the producer not the director of his play. A parent’s job is to provide some fun objects, materials, or toys to invite a child’s imagination to take off, not to lead the play.

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Toys in groups and alone

Plastic bats are great for solo play but a disaster in a group. Select age and temperament-appropriate toys.

An impulsive thrower needs soft toys, not metal cars that he can use as projectiles. If a toy habitually excites squabbles among playing children, shelve it.

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Socializing your toddler

Around the time he turns 2, your toddler will start to actively reach out to other children. But as with any other skill, he learns how to socialize with others by trial and error.

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Fast-food play dates

A play date at a fast food restaurant may not be the healthiest choice, but it’s still a lot fun.

Meet at a fast food restaurant such as McDonald’s that has an indoor play area. You could just get drinks, or ice cream, or meet for lunch.

The kids will enjoy climbing in the play place and the moms will appreciate the time to visit with each other.

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Time limit for playdates

Two hours is the magic number when it comes to playdates.

That’s just enough time to play, have a snack, take a break, and play again, before wrapping things up.

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Play-doh playdate fun

A Play-Doh playdate activity is perfect for children ages 2 and above.

You can purchase play-doh of different colors and let their imaginations go wild. To add some fun, add a play-doh kit where they can squeeze, shape, and build it.

You might also add in some cookie cutters and other objects to help enhance their creativity.

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Looking for playdates

Many parents are lucky enough to have built-in playmates for their children through neighbors, friends, or family members.

Others have to search them out. Local parenting support groups, churches, childcares, and other social organizations are good places to look.

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Play dates and tot’s ages

For toddlers, the age of the other children at the playdate doesn’t really matter.

Most kids will find some value in spending time with another child even if their ages don’t match up perfectly.

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Encouraging make-believe

Stock your shelves with goodies like boxes of various shapes, dress up clothes, puppets and kitchen items, to encourage make-believe skills.

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Playdates for infants

"It’s never too early for a playdate for a child, even an infant," says Jenn Berman, PhD, author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. "Babies are fascinated by other babies, and any new stimulation is really good for brain development.

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Preparing for playdates

Having a clean and child proofed home is important, especially when hosting a first ever play date. For first play dates, parents often want to attend or at least view your home. You want them to get a good impression and know that their child will be safe in your care.

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