Do Invite The Parent Over
A Don't: Don't offer to take the child home straight from school unless you know them well enough that you feel this would be a comfortable situation for them. It may seem like a convenient offer - an opportunity to give them a break, but without knowing you or your child, this is a potential red flag for
Do Talk About Your Family & Parenting Rule
- Are there other siblings and what are their ages - will they have friends over as well?
- Will the other parent or other adults be home during this time?
- Do you own any guns and how are they secured?
- Where do you both stand on video games, internet usage, tv time and types of shows you allow the kids watch?
- Do you have pets, if so what kinds?
- Do you own a pool, trampoline? Will someone be watching the kids?
- Do you let the children play outside by themselves - what are the rules about leaving the house and how far they are allowed to go?
Do Bring Up Body Safety
1. No playing in rooms with the door closed and, especially, never lock doors.
Maybe a younger sibling is bothering them, but the solution is not to allow them to be isolated from the rest of the house.
2. We always keep our clothes on and we don't share or touch each other's private parts.
This may seem like a given, but most younger kids don't have a strong sense of needing privacy. Children that are not educated about body safety may begin to be curious about their private parts and use a play date as an opportunity to explore. This is not unnatural, but it is important that we positively direct children to learn about their private parts at home, by talking or reading a book with us.
3. We don't keep secrets from our parents.
This seems to be a big one for kids. When they're over a friend's house there are new snacks and toys and places they want to explore. You may be surprised how even the most well behaved child can be convinced to sneak a treat or allow their friend to play with or take something they're not supposed to. If one child is trying to get the other to do something and keep it hidden from the parent, it needs to be told. We know kids are learning and they're not self control experts, so it's understandable that this is probably going to happen. It's important that we control our response - to not be angry or punish our child for doing the wrong thing, but rather take it as an opportunity to explain why we have these rules and the behavior we expect from them and their friends.
4. We don't trick, bribe, or bully others.
This is not only needed for friends but also younger or older siblings. To the older child involved it may seem funny to get a younger child to do something they're not supposed to. But for the younger child involved, who isn't as aware of what is going on or doesn't have the ability to defend themselves it becomes an issue of not being treated with respect. It could be as simple as getting a toddler to shake a bottle of baby powder on their own head, or convincing a child to do something sexually inappropriate. When older children are present in the home, it is important to be aware of where they are all playing and to supervise when children of different ages are playing together. With as much as40% of sexual abuse perpetrated by minors, the risk shouldn't be discounted.
Do Keep The Other Parent Informed
A Last Don't: Don't feel guilty if you do not feel comfortable allowing your child to play over someone's house. Invite them to a park or other activity where you can both be present. It is not our job to protect the egos of other adults, it is our job to protect our children as best we are able.
A Last Do: Do observe your child's mood and behavior after playdates with friends. Are they talkative about how their time was spent together? Are they happy and looking forward to playing together again? Or, are they quiet and withdrawn? You know your child best and when our children can't talk, they often communicate through behaviors when something is bothering them.