There are many parenting styles, and what works well for one child may not work for another kiddo. Learning to respect and appreciate differing parenting styles will help avoid conflicts with other parents. You may not get along with the parents of your child's friends and classmates, and you don't have to, but we've got tips and tricks to help you navigate the sometimes awkward interactions.
Tips for Parents
Be a Role Model
While it's not always easy, showing respect to parents and children is always important. Your child needs to see you model respectful communication and behavior, as this only encourages them to do the same. I keep this mantra on repeat in our home - Treat Others As You'd Like To Be Treated. This never gets old!
Keep Communication Brief
Your child will choose their friends, and it's so important they do this independently. Try not to dissuade your child from who they naturally gravitate towards - it will help build their self esteem. It's wonderful that your child chooses their own buddy, and rest assured, you don't need to be friends with their parent. Keep communication cordial and brief - this is the beauty of a drop off play-date. As your child gets older, it's easier to create buffers with parents. I do make sure to say hello to parents and walk my child to their door. After all, my mom and dad taught me well.
When to Intervene
If you notice poor or dangerous behavior as a host, or after your child comes home, it's probably worth addressing parents. Personally, I like writing an email because it allows everyone to get their thoughts down in a collected manner. You may also prefer a phone call to hash things out. This is when it's key to remember that everyone has different parenting styles. Try not to impose how you parent, but rather address any dangerous or unacceptable behavior. Hitting, name-calling, and bullying are all reasons to speak up. In addition, if you're the host, be sure to stop the above behavior.
Tips for Kids
I love the idea of a special notebook where your child can share how they are feeling. Whether it's after a play-date, a long day at school, or a sleepover, this is a great tool to teach your child to share their feelings. If your child is too young to write, you can draw smiley faces with different options and they can color in or circle how they're feeling. Sometimes children may not want to talk about something that happened, but having a special place to reflect can be helpful. You can look at the diary together and see if they're open to discussing their feelings.
Teaching Ground Rules
Be sure to teach your child the importance of being respectful in another family's home. Share a few rules to guide their behavior. My personal favorites include:
- Use your manners. Please and thank-yous go a long way.
- Clean up after yourself, just like we do at home.
- Ask for help if there's danger or something you're uncomfortable with. If you don't want to ask another parent, call your mom or dad.
- Try your very best to be respectful and kind.
At the end of the day, repeat that mantra when you're tempted to say something not so nice. Sometimes us adults need reminding too! We want to hear your story. How did you handle a play-date that didn't go so hot? What about getting along with parents and children that you wouldn't exactly select for your child to befriend?