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Use Playdates to train their Hearts - Live life with your kids - Issue 090
February 13, 2009
Hi there! ....

This week:

My apologies for no newsletter last week. I had no internet and it was mid week before we had regular and stable connections.

Many of my overseas readers have heard about the fires in Australia and have asked about our safety – thank you for your care. We are safe (we live at the opposite end of Australia) though family have been close to the fires, they too have been safe. For those families who are over in the East our family has watched your plight in horror and all we can do is pray for you guys.

Live life with your kids!

Be a Deliberate Parent
Use Playdates to train their Hearts

Playdates are what has replaced good old fashioned hospitality and neighbourliness. In days past the neighbour’s kids would all play together regardless of ages and regardless of a houseful of fancy toys. Kids would climb trees, build cubbies and sail away to imaginary places. These days the trend is for one mum to phone the mum of their child’s “particular” friend and to make plans. Of course these plans have to fit in with the plans of each and every member of the family. Life is busy!

I am not sure that we can totally turn back the tide and bring back neighbourhood backyards full of children – maybe we can. But in the meantime let’s make the most out of playdates. We can be in control of this aspect of our children’s social life, we can make it count as far as our big picture plans for our child and for our family.

Playdates, if handled correctly, can be helpful in the training of our children. When our children are playing with other children, they are a little further away from our boundaries (to some degree) so it gives us a good opportunity to see how our children are going.

  • Do they understand kindness and do they choose kindness?
  • Do they prefer one another or are they selfish?
  • Do they choose to be courteous or do you have to remind them?

Any heart issue can come to the fore when we interact with people. We need to take hold of this opportunity and be proactive and involved. Here are some thoughts that guide our family as we balance playdates with family life.

Family First Our children need to know that their family make up their closest group of friends. This of course, may not be exactly true, but with some work towards this it can certainly become true. We have a under girding principle when it comes to friendships, if a child is not enjoying family life, then they do not have the privilege of enjoying friendships outside of family. Family comes first.

Teach Contentment One of the things that I am learning is that life needs to slow down, that I need to smell the roses. Our children need to learn these things too – and the earlier they learn them the better. One of the “red flags” that signal things are out of whack in my child’s emotional well being is if they are not content unless their day is filled with friends, activity and noise. This requires a heart change, not a playdate!

Make family playdates This is where the family goes and visits a family (rather than dropping off an individual). Before we go on such a playdate I encourage my children to play with all the children. With my older children I have taught them that these are opportunities to give themselves to other people, to be leaders. I have taught them that little kids look up to them and they have an opportunity to be a “big” brother/sister to these little kids. (This isn’t the only type of playdate my children enjoy but it is an aspect of their social life.)

Discourage “best” friends This is exclusive and hurtful to other friendships. Sure, there will be friends that we “connect” with more naturally but it is simply not necessary to label it as a “best”. Let your children know how hurtful this can be, and teach them to be aware of when there is more than two in a group and what they can do to ensure no one is hurt or left out.

Don’t overstay your welcome We need to learn when enough is enough. We all have our limitations and mums need to be aware of their own children’s limitations (and how the other children are going as well.) There have been many a time that I drag my goodbyes out and in those extra 10minutes my kid just looses it! Playing with others is a very stimulating activity and our bodies can only cope with so much of this adredenline before we crash. This is what happens after many playdates, especially to 3-8year olds before they learn the self control to rein it in.

Be wise about your child’s freedoms At no time do we abdicate responsibility for our children – even when they are at someone else’s place. We need to make sure that our children have the boundaries around them that will help them do the right thing (just as we do at home.) This means you may have to be close by, or in earshot, so you can help your child succeed during this playdate.

Teach your child the rules The rules should be the same at home as they are out and about. Be loving, respectful, orderly, obedient etc. We need to teach our children how to be good hosts and how to be good guests – bottom line remains the same in both situations – prefer one another!

Playdates are a privilege not a right Of course, there are times when my children have individual playdates, but when my children were little these were not the norm. As our children grow and mature, and we know that they represent themselves and the family well when they are with other people, they can enjoy the privilege of individual playdates a lot more frequently.

Unfortunately many mums see playdates as a time of relief when they get a few hours to themselves, and this may be true on the surface, but the real truth is that we are never released from our responsibilities to train our children. We need to train our children before they can go on a playdate, we may need to maintain the standard while they are on a playdate and sometimes we need to increase the training after a playdate!

Though our children’s misbehaviour when we are out and about can be embarrassing we really need to overcome those feelings, and be on the alert as to how to deal with and to continue our training so that our children mature and grow and next time will behave a little differently.

A child left to himself
Brings shame to his mother
Proverbs 29:15b

This verse tells us that there is no shame in finding an “issue” but the shame comes if we leave it unattended to. So the next time you are out with your child and he does the wrong thing, set things right the best you can, and go home and practice doing the right thing some more, preparing him to be the best play mate he can be.

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
  • Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
  • Family Life is a Resource for Education – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
  • Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
  • A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues

The newsletter will also keep you updated with all additions to Lifestyle-Homeschool

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