Q: I recently found out that when my first-grader has a playdate with her best friend, they’re allowed to watch TV and have sweets: two no-nos in our family, at least on weekdays. Should I let this go, or say something?
A: TV and candy are two things your child is going to come across over and over in her life. What you need to do is set boundaries. Is part of your concern the type of treats she’s having? Are you okay with a little chocolate, but draw the line at, say, bubble gum? Personally, any kind of gum is a no-no in my house—I worry about it as a choking hazard with my little ones—and I feel free to say so to a playdate’s mom. If the issue is the quantity of sweets, keep in mind that we have to teach our kids to say “no, thank you” and to make good choices, like having only one or two pieces of candy and not a whole bucketful.
The same rule applies to television. Take a moment before you drop your daughter off to remind her that while watching one show with a friend on a playdate is fine, most of the time they should be doing something active together (it is a playdate!). If neither can resist the allure of TV and no one’s monitoring their tube time, however, you need to speak up to the other parent. If that just feels too awkward, here’s a thought: Host more playdates at your house!
(Question and answer featured in March 2013’s issue of Parents.)