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

Social Slipup: You Micromanage Playdates

Do you overplan every playdate? Do you swoop in at the hint of an argument and insert yourself relentlessly into the kids' play? Not only will the children think you're a pest (the little pal may not want to come back), you're also undermining an important learning experience. "Children teach each other friendship through play," says Michael Thompson, PhD, coauthor of Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Worlds of Children. "If you're micromanaging the kids, it's not play-it's an adult-run activity."

Shadowing your kid hurts more than her friendships. "The more you hover, the less resilient she'll be," says Michele Borba, EdD, Parents advisor and the author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. "Children have to learn to problem-solve without you."

The fix: Teach your child to manage her playdates. Before her friend comes over, remind her to share and let her put away toys she can't part with. Then, step back. Unless the kids are in a physical fight, tell them that they have to work out their problem," says Dr. Borba. If they can't, you can offer some suggestions -- but they need to make the decision.

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