Annoyed that Your Kids Don't Get Along With Your Best Friend's Offspring? Here's How to Make It Work!

It's hard enough to find cool people to hang out with, let alone cool people who happen to have kids your kid's age and who have the same Saturday afternoon free that you do. (Adult conversation! In your very own home!) But instead of relaxing in the backyard over glasses of wine while the kids swarm the swingset, you keep having to get up and police.

Grrrr. Why can’t they just get along?! Can't they see mommy is socializing???

The good news is that if you invest some time teaching the kids how to work things out, you may be able to get your dream afternoon back -- at some point in the future, says developmental psychologist Nancy S. Buck, PhD and founder of Peaceful Parenting Inc. Her advice:

Make a playdate plan with your child in advance. “Ask her to imagine it and tell you the story of how it will go, so she has a sense of creating the plan,” says Buck. “Ask, ‘how shall we handle it if there’s a disagreement?’ Listen to her idea, and if it’s too ‘magical’ give her a reasonable solution.” You should also go over the rules, and ask your child if she has it in her to follow those rules at the playdate. “If she says no, believe her and don’t go.”

Agree to connect with your child. “She may need to know she can come snuggle on your lap for a few minutes,” says Buck. “Let her know she can come get Mommy if she needs your help working something out with the other kids.”

Give it a few months. Not working? Give it some time. “Every six months, kids alternate between a cooperative stage (where fun and love are the strongest needs) and a competitive phase (where power and freedom drive needs),” says Buck. Two kids in a competitive phase equals rough going; one kid in each stage is workable; and two cooperative kids (not surprisingly) will be easiest.

A favorite trick of ours? Let your kid quarantine a toy or two before a playmate comes over -- especially if fights are erupting over sharing.

Finally, remember that just because you and the other mom are besties, it doesn’t mean that your kids have to be, too. They simply need to learn to tolerate each other enough so that you and yours can sip Merlot in peace.  

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