Playdates for children are a great opportunity for children to interact and learn social skills. They are also a great way to bond with other parents. But what do you do when the children fight during a playdate?
Wait before you intervene
If you overhear the beginning of an argument, just listen a bit. See if the children can resolve it by themselves. Remember, a playdate is an easy way for children to learn negotiating and compromising skills. If the argument does not subside, then do step in before things become worse.
Ask the children to take turns
Often, an argument ensues over who has to play with a toy as both children want to play with the same toy during the playdate. When they start to fight, step in and suggest that they take turns with the toy. They can choose who plays with it first or you can make it fun for them by tossing a coin. The same can work when the children cannot agree on a game to play together.
Give the toy a timeout
When the children cannot share a toy during the playdate, or refuse to take turns, do not punish either of them. Simply tell them that the toy is available to neither child as they cannot agree on who will play with it first. And put the toy out of reach.
Fairness and respect for the feelings of others
If one child starts shouting or getting physical with the other, step in and stop it. Then ask the child how they would feel it if happened to them - "How would you feel if your friend shouted at you?" or "Do you think it is fair to hit someone to grab a toy?". Would they wanted to be treated fairly and nicely also? Then prompt the child to take the next steps. First, ask them if they want to start with an apology. Then ask them - "What is the right thing for you to do?". Let them think about what they need to do. You can help them with some hints or with leading questions. This will help them learn that they should treat others as they themselves want to be treated.
Play with the children for a while to calm them down
Sometimes to resolve a fight or to prevent a fight from breaking out, you may have to sit down with the children. You can either watch them or play with them. This will calm them down. With you there, they will focus on playing rather than fighting. Of course, do not sit with them all the time as it can also backfire. Every complaint may come to you instead of being resolved between themselves. Also, the idea of the playdate is to try and let the children learn to play by themselves instead of you supervising them.
Distract the children with a snack
Distracting the fighting children is one way to get them to forget their argument. A healthy snack like a fruit or lassi can be a good distraction. Get them refreshed and reenergized and send them back to play again.