Etiquette expert: follow these pointers for a perfect summer playdate


Special to the Recorder

The lazy hazy days of summer have officially arrived, and so has one of our biggest tasks: keeping the kids safe and entertained all summer! How many times do we hear those dreaded words, “Mom I’m so bored!”

Summertime in today’s world is totally different than when I was a little girl. In those days, our parents threw us out the front door on an early summer morning and didn’t expect us back until lunch or maybe even dinner time. We rode our bikes all around our neighborhood, picking up our friends along the way, and we made our own entertainment all summer long. Simple, that was it.

Today our children are growing up in a much more complicated world. Parents and children carefully plan and orchestrate playdates as one form of entertainment. Now, as much as I think playdates can be very helpful in keeping our children busy, not all playdates are created equal! It’s not the best feeling when you realize you have an unruly child in your house for the next two hours, or you get a report from another parent that your child wasn’t on their best behavior.

Here are a few tips for having a “Playful Playdate”

Set a specific date and time: When setting your child’s playdate, make it clear what time the playdate begins and when it ends! An hour or two at the most is more than enough time. Little ones can get tired of one another after a while.

Always plan a snack time: It energizes kids, who always love eating at someone else’s house. Make sure you discuss any possible food allergies in advance. Snack time is also a perfect time for them to show off their good manners.

Just add water: Summer days can be very hot, especially in Florida. If the kids are playing outdoors, make sure to have water toys to play with. There are plenty of fun water activities to do even if you don’t have a pool.

Don’t overschedule: The kids are kept on a rigid schedule all year long in school. The best playdates always seem to be the ones where they get to run around outside. Have water toys, bottles of bubbles, and a couple of big beach balls available. Trust me, they will figure out their own fun and games.

Give them space: As long as they’re in a safe environment and near to you, it’s not necessary to watch them like a hawk. Keep your ears open and check in on them every once in a while of course, buts it’s so important for you to keep your distance so they can solve their own little tiffs. They will return to playing much sooner when they realize you are not going rescue them every time.

Reinforce good manners: Children are not born with good manners – they have to learn them. And if we don’t teach them, they can’t learn them. Make sure kids know the magic words – please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry – and that they are always expected to be used. Whenever your child is being served food, they must know how to eat with good manners, including:

No slurping or burping

Remembering to use their napkin

No running in the house

No jumping on the furniture

No yelling (nice words only)

Conclude with clean-up: Make sure everyone knows they must help clean up, putting away crafts, toys and games before their pick-up time.

Lastly, make sure your child knows to thank the host parent! After all, if they had a good time, they will be want to be invited back!

Deborah Shor is the owner of Deborah Shor’s School of Etiquette. For information on summer classes for kids’ ages 4 to 17, visit or call (904) 864-7166.