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Mind Your Manners

Tips for teaching play date etiquette

Instilling good social skills might seem a lost cause on a two-year-old. But it’s a case of sooner the better, according to Faye Rogaski, founder of Socialsklz, which offers manners and etiquette workshops for kids and teens in New York. When it comes to play date etiquette, Rogaski says the best bet is to get kids involved in the planning aspect of the play date, teach them what’s expected before hand, and reinforce the concepts with good old-fashioned practice. Here, her top tips for successful play date manners.

  • Build anticipation for the play date by marking the calendar with your child, allowing him to decorate the entry, and discussing the date and time of the play date.
  • Show your child how to greet hosts, then practice it at your own front door. Similarly, practice departing a play date, saying “Thank you for having me.” 
  • Discuss best behavior on a play date, incluing sharing and being kind.  Explain that without these behaviors, play dates don’t happen at all. 
  • Plan together to arrive on time—one of life’s important lessons. Ask your child the time of the play date, and then talk through what time you should leave in order to be on time.
  • Discuss what to bring for the play date—perhaps a simple present or a healthy snack to share.
  • Just before arriving, spend a few minutes reviewing what you taught your child at home as a quick refresher.
  • Teach your child how to properly thank the host: ask him what he found out about his friend (i.e., favorite color or toy) and work that into a thank-you note.  It’s a wonderful exercise in thoughtfulness.

—Faye Rogaski, socialsklz.com