Nice Kids, Rude Parents: Does Your Playdate Etiquette Need a Makeover?

Social Slipup: You Dictate Food Rules

It's fine to be choosy about what your child eats. But unless he has a food allergy, you shouldn't dictate rules to other parents about what to feed your kid on playdates or comment on their food choices; otherwise, your child's social calendar may get lighter. "No one wants to have playdates with moms who say things like, 'He can only have whole wheat crackers!'" says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Parenting Books. "You can't avoid junk food if you're going to let your kid have friends."

And if you rigidly try to control his diet, he'll never learn to handle real-world choices and temptations, says Ellyn Satter, author of Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. "For that to happen, kids need to learn to manage food when you're not around," she says. Depriving him of treats can backfire -- your child may become obsessed with the junk food you forbid.

The fix: First, relax: Munching on a few cookies at a friend's house won't undo your child's good eating habits. "The foods you serve at home will probably be the ones your child will like and choose to eat as he gets older," says Satter.

If he does have a treat, balance it out by making sure his meals are healthy. And it's reasonable to ask the playdate host to avoid giving your child a huge snack, or serving one too close to a meal, so he won't ruin his appetite, says Satter. "You won't seem too restrictive, and your child will still eat a healthy meal at home."

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