Rules for Play Dates: A Child’s Guide to Good Etiquitte


As the parent of a singleton, I’m used to having a lot of “A’s” friends over for extended periods of time. Generally, I’m pretty lax – the kids can do whatever they like (within reason) – build forts with the sofa cushions and throw pillows, have a Nerf gun war, dump Lego pieces all over the floor, eat whatever is available (including **gasp** potato chips – better them than me!), or play sports or video games if the weather is bad. But I have limits too…and last week we had a few kids to our home for a play date and they seriously tested them.

This prompted me to remind my son about the general rules of behavior and good etiquette when visiting someone’s house. They are as follows:


Greet Your Host – I realize that you are probably excited ready to get down to business with your friend, but when your buddy’s mom is holding the door open for you and welcoming you into her home, ignoring her is probably not going to score points. I’m sure they don’t expect a handshake and charming banter about the weather…but a simple acknowledgement is awfully nice.

Wait Until You’re Offered A Snack – It’s not appropriate to walk into someone’s kitchen and raid their pantry or refrigerator. Opening bags and boxes and critiquing the family’s choices in cereal or lack of sugary snacks is rude – and commenting that your host’s food selection “sucks” will definitely not garner a return invitation on many levels.

If You Sprinkle…- Boys – please lift the seat and pee into the bowl, the ladies of the household will appreciate that. Oh, and if it’s brown…flush it down.

Respect Others Belongings – Wii discs are not Frisbees. Water guns are to be used outside only. Don’t drive remote-control cars off a 10 foot stone wall onto a driveway “just to see what would happen”- especially when the owner of the toy is asking you not to do that. And if you accidentally break something, please speak up and apologize.

Be Kind to Pets and Younger Siblings – Do not poke, prod, carry, tease, or otherwise taunt other people’s pets. Likewise, be kind to your playmate’s younger siblings and consider their feelings too – consider them bonus pals.

Pick-Up After Yourself – If you’re served a snack, put your plate/cup in the sink. If you empty the Lego buckets all over the floor, scoop ‘em up and put them back in when you’re done. You don’t have to leave the place spotless, but make an attempt to clean up…the mom will appreciate your effort and your friend will have less to do after you leave.

A few simple courtesies go far in the eyes of parents, who are, after all, a big influence on their children’s choice of friends when they are young. Beyond play dates, these are just good, solid rules for life – be kind, respectful, admit your mistakes, and pick up after yourself.

Do you talk to your kids about play date etiquette? What suggestions have you made to your own children about how to behave when they are guests in someone else’s home? Have you had to “ban” any children from your home because of poor play date behavior?  Let’s hear it!


6 comments on “Rules for Play Dates: A Child’s Guide to Good Etiquitte”

  1. Wonderful post! I love this. I agree with Kate, this feels like something that should be printed out and hung in the house somewhere! Since my babe is still little, the only real rule of playdates is sharing, but as she grows up, all the rules will apply!

  2. Love this!! I am a huge believer in teaching kids manners. I wish all parents would keep these rules like you do so kids would get used to them and know what’s expected. Generally, we’ve had really good luck with play dates and other kids so far. Kids have been very polite! 🙂

  3. I think I ought to print this out and leave it on the front door! Hubby and I have often joked that we should get a deposit from parents before their kids come in the house, that way we have the money for anything they might break ~ and YES, we’ve had MANY things break! Great post!

    1. Thanks Kate! The screen on our front door is nearly destroyed from kids walking through it because they don’t realize there’s a screen there! Now, every time we have a party with a big group of kids, I put a big X in blue painters tape on it – problem solved!

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