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Teaching Your Preschooler About Playdate Politeness

Providing Parental Guidance To Teach Your Child Manners

By her third birthday, your child's social realm will have greatly expanded. Preschoolers still often have trouble sharing, listening, and acknowledging another child's desires, but with some gentle parental guidance, your child will learn to enjoy playing with a companion, says child development expert Maureen O'Brien, Ph.D.

Preschool playdates should still be supervised to avoid miscommunications. Penelope Leach, author of "Your Baby and Child," recommends keeping yourself moderately busy within the children's vicinity -- close enough to smooth out trouble spots but not hovering.

Children at this age are now old enough to understand the idea of sharing. It helps to put out toys that help encourage this, such as blocks, trains, or crayons, rather than one-offs like a single truck or toy drum. That way the host can have the green crayon, while his guest colors with the blue one.

If a conflict arises, O'Brien offers this advice: Clearly and briefly explain to your child what's upsetting his playmate. Tell him what the rules for social behavior are in this case, such as, "We always share with our guests." And speak with enough emotional intensity -- but not anger -- to let your child know that this issue is important.

Later when you are alone with your child -- maybe on the drive home or during bathtime -- talk to your child about how she could have handled the situation better.

You can also handle slightly more severe issues this way, such as hitting or biting. Just make sure to be firm that you won't tolerate that behavior.

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