16-Month-Old Toddler Development: Playdates
At this age, playdates are as much about Mom or Dad finding someone fun to hang out with as they are about your toddler making a BFF. Sure, your kid gets "socialized" when he interacts with other toddlers, but let's be honest: Sometimes you just need to hang out with someone who can answer you in actual sentences and drink from a "big girl" cup without spilling it all over the place! What you're thinking: "Please just share your toys and don't throw a tantrum, so Mommy can get her gossip on!"
- While you can't expect too much from your toddler at 16 months, there are steps you can take to ensure that toddler playdates or visits to playgroups go (semi) smoothly. Toddlers tend to engage in parallel play, which means they play next to each other rather than with each other. So basically your job is to act like a ref at a hockey game—just make sure everyone has a stick (or block or ball) to play with and no brawls break out. There are a few more things you can do to help your playdates go smoothly.
- Talk to your kid ahead of time about sharing his stuff and his turf. This doesn't mean your kid will cooperate come game time, but at least he'll vaguely grasp what hit him when his friend grabs his coveted stacking cups.
- That said, know that your kid won't totally comprehend the concept of sharing at this age, so don't expect him to. Try urging the kids to "take turns" instead. And if by some stroke of luck, your little Scrooge does end up sharing with a friend, be sure to make a huge deal of it. Who knows? The praise might make it stick!
- Put away all of your kid's favorite "I'll kill you if you touch that" toys before the playdate begins or, if you're headed to playgroup, leave them at home. Of course the kids will find something else to squabble over, but your little guy will be less likely to freak if the tug-o-war isn't over his favorite thing in the world (besides you, of course!).
- Keep playdates and playgroups short and sweet and limit the number of kids.
- If you just aren't the playdate kind of parent and the closest thing your kid has to a buddy is his Elmo doll, don't sweat it. Young toddlers thrive from just being around Mom and Pop. You are your toddler's best friend at this point, so relish it. In 12 years,your popularity will plummet and you'll be lucky to get 10 minutes of your kid's time.
- "It's never been easy for me to make friends. But as the mother of an only child, I've had to step outside my comfort zone to make an effort to make friends. I do this because in today's world, the only way for my son to have an active social life is for me to go out there and get him one."
Read more of "Lonely Only" by Kristen Spina
Everything you ever wanted to know ... and were just about to ask:
An activity your kid and his buddy can actually do together! No sharing required. Answer It: Does your kid go on playdates?
Take our poll! Cook It: English Muffin Pizzas
This easy, protein-, calcium- and whole-grain-packed lunch is perfect to serve at a playdate (not that serving lunch is required at all!).
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All kids grow and develop at different rates. So please don't compare your toddler with so-and-so's from across the street—you'll just drive yourself nuts. If you have any concerns, bring them up with your pediatrician at your kid's next checkup.