Do you remember when your children were little and you looked forward to weekly playdates, trips to the park, or casual strolls through the zoo? What made those times so special? For us it was the friendships we shared through those regular activities.
A break from the structure of the week was always welcome! Now that our kids are much older, we still enjoy a break from the monotony of our schedules. Trips to the mall have replaced time at the zoo, and park swings have been replaced with golf carts.
But what about those playdates? Are they still necessary? Will your children outgrow wanting to visit with a good friend? No, they won’t. And if we’re being honest, you and I haven’t outgrown that either.
Time with friends is healing to the soul. So how do you incorporate playdates for teens into an already packed schedule? Let’s look at a few ways to do just that!
Make it a priority.
Priority is defined as something that’s regarded as more important than another. The easiest way to find time for an activity is to elevate its level of importance.
If you are purposeful in looking for opportunities to interact with others, playdates will develop organically. If you need to make room in your student’s schedule, look for things that take time but don’t provide as much face to face interaction such as playing video games or watching tv.
Find a new hobby.
If your student has an interest in painting or sewing, for example, consider allowing them to take a class or join a club that focuses on the skill. Not only will they learn something new, but they will also spend time with others who share a similar interest.
Art classes, book clubs, robotics, and sports teams are all ways to develop friendships and create social time together.
Just let it happen!
As your children get older, they will be naturally drawn to others who share similar interests. Allow your teen the freedom to try new things if they are invited.
This may be in the form of a church or co-op class they wouldn’t have normally taken or even a new part time job. Older kids have a way of finding each other. With time and guidance, these chance meetings can be guided into purposeful gatherings.
Find or be a mentor.
Sometimes sharing time with someone is as easy as being a mentor. Maybe there’s an older adult in your student’s life that would be honored to pour more time into your child.
Perhaps your child would enjoy tutoring a younger student in a subject they are particularly strong in. Our oldest son took guitar lessons from an older teen and those lessons developed a long lasting friendship.
Finally, don’t call them playdates.
Your big kids will think you have lost your mind. Try one of these catchy names instead: co-op class, support group activity, dual credit class, athletics, hanging out, book club, or catching a movie.
If a child, regardless of his or her age, is enjoying the company of a friend, you have a successful time of interaction.
Play often at any age. It’s good for you!
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