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Siblings Sabotaging Playdates? Here's Ground Rules That Can Actually Help

Siblings Sabotaging Playdates? Ground Rules That Can Actually Help

By Kelcey Kintner

There is this rumor that playdates are supposed to make your life easier. And sometimes they can. If you get the perfect combination of two children, they can play happily for hours without a single whine or complaint.

But in my house, playdates are often a giant headache and it’s usually because of siblings.

Recently my 9 year old daughter had her best friend over to play. The two girls were planning to make friendship bracelets and film videos. They retreated to my daughter’s bedroom and everything was bliss.

For about 3 minutes. Okay, 2 minutes and 30 seconds. You know what? It might not have been that long.

Because suddenly everyone in my house wanted in on this playdate. My 6 year old daughter wanted to make friendship bracelets. My 6 year old son wanted to shoot nerf darts at the girls. My 3 year old son wanted to ransack their room and maybe destroy a few of those bracelets (You know, if time allowed. The kid is busy).

Before long, I heard, “MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Get them out of my room!”

And boy did I try. But there were tears. And whining. And oh my gosh – I hate playdates.

It wasn’t really anyone’s fault. But it definitely wasn’t working.

So I came up with some playdate ground rules. These are not perfect rules and they don’t apply to every playdate scenario but they can help lesson the tears and increase the fun. Or at least that’s the hope or no one is having another playdate EVER.

Sibling Ground Rules During Playdates:

  • The two friends having the playdate get some alone time. It can be a half hour or an hour (the parent determines the length of time) but if at all possible, they do get some time to themselves.
  • During this alone time, siblings get to do something special. Maybe they get screen time or they get to play a game with a parent or bake some cookies. Anything that makes them feel less deprived and left out.
  • After this specified about of alone time, all the kids do something together. Maybe it’s a group game of soccer or a game of Uno or Pie Face. Anything that is age appropriate for everyone. This way the siblings can finally feel a part of the playdate.
  • Don’t make the playdate too long. Because no matter how many ground rules you have, eventually there is nothing parents can do to stop the arguing!
  • Finally, talk to your kids before the playdate. Adele Faber, co-author of Siblings Without Rivalry, suggests asking your children, “How can we make this playdate fun for everyone?” She believes getting your kids involved in the planning will make them more invested in the solution (Source: The Parenting Map). If everyone knows what to expect, it should hopefully go a lot more smoothly.

So now with these ground rules in place, playdates at our house are carefree and relaxed! Yeah, not exactly. But definitely less headachy. Which means I don’t dread them as much and my children can actually enjoy them more.

Got any great ideas on dealing with siblings and playdates? Please share!

Photo source: Depositphotos/annanahabed


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About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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