Play, Learn & Grow: What Playdates Teach Our Children
Essential Life Skills Your Child Learns From Playdates
Playdates are “practice moments.” They’re golden opportunities for our children to work on important life skills that will prepare them for the big world.
Reflect on this: Why do we really spend our precious time driving back and forth just so they can play with other kids? The obvious answer is so they’d have fun while we’re having some “time out” from parenting. At the back of our minds, though, we all know these playdates are actually learning experiences for our little ones.
Parents, be intentional about teaching scripts that will maximize your children’s practice moments. That way, they can have a future filled with so much opportunities because the more they’re skilled they are in handling what life throws at them, the more doors will open for them.
5 Life Skills From Playdates & How To Reinforce At Home
Loosen up, momma bear! It’s our natural instinct to keep our children safe but if we want them to grow stronger, we have to let go and trust our children to take care of themselves when we’re not around. This allows them to practice controlled independence which helps in developing a strong sense of responsibility and self-discipline.
Script: “Remember, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, you do what is right.”
Sharpening Conversation Skills
Effective communication is among the fundamental skills children need to succeed, whether it’s in their career or personal relationships with other people. Even if you give them the best education in the world, they’d still miss out on opportunities simply because of the fear of expressing themselves openly.
Have meaningful conversations at home and choose the quality of media or literature your child is regularly exposed to. Train them to use uplifting words, to ask purposeful questions, and to listen intently when others are sharing their thoughts. More importantly, stop talking to them like they’re kids. Too often, we underestimate our children’s capacity for depth. In my experience, they can carry out “serious talks” if we start them young!
Look at it this way: communicating with others is a powerful act of contribution. How can our children become a light to the world if they can’t even connect to other people?
Script: “What makes you happy/sad? Why does it make you feel that way?”
Without awareness, our kids will be robbed of the growth they need to grab the opportunities they so deserve. It’s key to examining themselves as individuals, as well as the environment influencing them on a daily basis. It serves as a tool for them in correcting their weaknesses and in deciding if something or someone is damaging to their future.
Train your child to be mindful of what he sees, hears, tastes, smells, and touches. Each time you drive home from a playdate, ask questions that would trigger his senses. Making this a habit will train your child to become more observant when in somebody else’s home.
Script: “How do you feel when you are at a friend’s home? What gave you that feeling?”
Communicating With Adults
Don’t be afraid to go beyond the norm! Our culture is so limiting, it’s set up in a way that our children are only allowed to have full-blown conversations with adults when they’ve grown into adults themselves. Are we really going to wait that long? Many parents do and so, take a look around you. No wonder we have grown ups who still don’t know how it’s like to communicate effectively.
The secret in building your child’s confidence in communicating with older people starts with you, his parents. When your child can openly express himself when he’s around you, he will naturally bring that behavior outside of your home.
Script: “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. How was your day? What can I do to help?”
Enforcing Healthy Boundaries
Most of the time, we use the word “boundaries” without really understanding how to enforce it. Well, working with children can indeed be frustrating but it’s not impossible. Unlike adults, they’re still in the process of forming their concept of what’s right or wrong and this can definitely work to your advantage.
The bad news is, your child is surrounded by many other influences besides your family. While some can be healthy for his growth, others bring the opposite effect and your child can grow up with all the wrong beliefs because of them.
True, we can’t control how others act around our kids but the good news is that at this time in their lives, we can minimize negative influence because we still have the power to choose an environment conducive for our children’s personal growth.
We must also be stringent in filtering the resources they watch or read. In one research, it was discovered that violence depicted in television shows, movies, video games, and other forms of media instills aggression in children. They become more irritable and less helpful.
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This life skill takes time to develop but it’ll ensure that your child survives the big world. Start by building a strong moral foundation at home and empower your child to stand up for what he believes is right, even if it means being left out.
Script: “No, I don’t prefer that. Please stop.”
Invest In Your Child’s Future
The next time you feel you’re too busy to drive your kid to playdates, better think again. It’s small moments like these that create a huge, meaningful impact into our children’s lives. Investing in their future does not necessarily mean putting up a hefty trust fund or sending them to topnotch academic institutions. Sometimes, it’s as simple as letting them interact with others.
If we’re not so vigilant at maximizing these practice moments, we’ll surely regret it. It seems difficult to work on our children now. You may even doubt if it’s effective because you may be thinking that your little one is too young to absorb all this. But would you really want to wait until he’s older and less teachable? When damaging beliefs have already been ingrained inside his mind?
Think about it. Don’t forget: they’re only young once.