Tips for a successful playdate

Wondering how to help your child on a play date?  Is Autism getting in the way?  Poor social skills?  Check out these tips for a successful play date!

I'm worried a play date will end horribly for us...

So have you had that really horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad play date that just made you want to hole-up forever in the safety of you home?  I am willing to bet most, if not every, special needs parents have had at least one.  I definitely have, and it still takes all I can muster some days to put those experiences behind me. 


As hard as it can be, we do need to keep moving forward and trying to engage with other families.  I am happy that my special needs son is content to play alone, but I love seeing how giddy he is when he is playing well with a peer.  Keeping at it on "play dates" is an important part of practicing social skills.

Wondering how to help your child on a play date?  Is Autism getting in the way?  Poor social skills?  Check out these tips for a successful play date!

Prepare, prepare, prepare...

If possible, stick to play dates with familiar people who understand your struggles.  Otherwise, you may be able to find a fellow special needs family through school, co-op, or a support group.  If you are invited to a play date with someone who is unfamiliar, just take a quick moment to explain the situation.  Most people are really understanding if you talk about the situation rather than blindsiding them and leaving them to wonder what was going on.

Make sure your son or daughter has a good night's sleep.  If they slept poorly, don't feel bad re-scheduling!  In fact, let them know ahead of time that may very well happen.  Feed them a meal time favorite before hand so they don't get grouchy, and pack snacks in case it's going well.  I usually bring extra of everything so there can be no meltdowns over having different snacks.
  

Wondering how to help your child on a play date?  Is Autism getting in the way?  Poor social skills?  Check out these tips for a successful play date!

Talk with your child(ren) about expected unexpected behaviors.  Review any of the social skills you have been practicing and what to do if they are starting to feel overwhelmed.  Don't feel badly if they need a break and want to play alone for a while.  The "play date" is also for you to socialize, and it will happen throughout life that your child may need to take a break from a situation.  It's actually great for them to practice doing that appropriately right now!  It's not a fail if the kids go their separate ways for a bit.

If you find yourself in a #playdatefail despite your best preparation, take a bit of time to lick your wounds, but please give it another shot.  The chance to work on social skills is valuable, and friends are important for them and for you!

What are your tips for a smooth play date?
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