24 answers

Playdates - Only Child

My daughter is 8, and before her feet hit the ground in the morning, she is asking who can she have a playdate with either after homework or over the coming weekend. We have no kids her age in our neighborhood, and I feel like I am constantly calling other parents to beg them to have a playdate either at my home or theirs. I used to be embarrassed to be so brazen, but I realized if we lived next door, she would be popping over to ring the doorbell to see if Suzie could come out to play. So I feel the phone is our 'doorbell'.

Having said that, it is incredibly rare that anyone calls us for a playdate! My daughter is pretty outgoing, and likes to run the show, but most of her friends also have big personalities and they get along fine. I always feel it's the 'only-child' syndrome and other families don't feel the need to arrange playdates. One of her favorite friends is one of 6 kids, and they can never say yes when we call - they have to think about it and call back, and if they do call back, 90% of the time the answer is no. I think I'm officially shunned from their family for simply asking too much. The little girl actually got grounded for asking while on the phone, because "she knew she was supposed to say she had to check and call back"! I want so badly to tell them that, even as I can't fathom juggling 6 kids and schedules, they can't imagine how hard it is to watch one child's heart sink over and over and over.

To make matters worse, the class reshuffling this year left her with all new classmates, and her class eats lunch at the complete opposite end of the lunchroom, so she can't even see her old friends at lunchtime - only PE and occasionally recess. I'm trying so hard to urge her to 'make new friends', but that has gotten very old very quick as the other friendships in her new class are long established and not yet welcoming of her. I'm trying hard to try to set playdates with the new kids, but no luck even getting phone numbers yet! Now we got called in for a teacher conference because she's been acting out trying to get attention in her new class.

Anyway, I wonder how often other people set playdates or have kids over? Or perhaps i have to face the cold hard truth that maybe they just don't like her or us? I am going to investigate some other activities in the area the might introduce her to kids from different schools or grades.

Thank you!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I have twins so my girls have not had that same problem. We are, however, on the other side of the situation. We live in Fort Worth and my girls have become friends with a girl (only child) from South Arlington/Mansfield area. The girls met in acting class which is in Weatherford. What we do sometimes, including last night, is go for dinner after class in Fort Worth. Last night my girls' school was having a fundraiser night at Chuck E Cheese. The other girl and her mother came too, and they ended up inviting another friend of my daughters to her birthday party this weekend.

So the other little girl is really expanding her circle of friends. Plus, I have become friends with her parents and we all went to their family Memorial Day party earlier this year. We usually do dinner after class (we like to hit Rosa's Taco Tuesday) about once a month and a weekend playdate once a month.

Just get her out there and involved with other activities. Find something she enjoys dance, soccer, karate, etc and she will make friends.

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like maybe you need to get her into some athletics to find another outlet for her energy. It is also a good idea to maybe start encouaging her to do some things on her own. I was an only child so I very comfortable as an adult at entertaining myself. I know this is probably harder on you than her but remember part of parenting is letting her work on her own problems.
She will not always be able to be with someone else.

1 mom found this helpful

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Truth is, we only do play dates during the summer months, if we have time. During school we not only have school and homework, but so many other activities (sports, scouts, ect), that any time we have left we keep for us, for family time. We do have 2 boys close in age, so we do not worry about social interaction for them anyway, but with all the activities and school, they get a ton of time with kids their own age without us having to find time for a play date. We have such a hard time finding time to be a family during the school year, that although my heart may break for the single child down the street that often knocks on our door, we more often than not have to say no.

5 moms found this helpful

Maybe it is not that they dont like your daughter but that they are just into what they have going on within the household the parents and the children. I do think that it would be a good idea to get her involved in activities in the area and then she will meet friends there.

4 moms found this helpful

I have an only child too who is six. I haven't made much of an effort to do play dates, but I have signed her up for activities like theater.

My daughter goes to a theater class with a girl from school who is not in her class. The girl comes to our house for dinner once a week after the theater class. Her family (parents and two siblings) lives in Allen and we are in Dallas, so by the time the mom comes to get her, the girls have eaten and had a little time to play. This has worked out well and has led to a nice friendship.

I think people get busy so going the activity route might be better. Maybe your daughter could ask around to see what activities kids in her class are doing and then find one she can join so she can get to know the kids?

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I think activities would be better than play dates at this stage in her life. Dance classes, acting classes, cheerleading, swimming, karate, and gymnastics too. All are great arenas for making friends and learning something new. Also going places like parks with playgrounds, may also help her get to know some other children. We also have a girls' group (Daughters of Destiny) at the church, Sunday School, and movie night. These activities are designed for the children to have fun as they grow in faith together. You may want to check your local churches to see if they offer anything. I hope this helps your little social butterfly.

2 moms found this helpful

Try having her get in after school activities....
enroll her in other things... dance classes, martial arts, art classes, music classes etc. ANYTHING, that is just for her... and her interests.
Thus, you will not be dependent on others, to entertain her... and she will learn how to socialize... with others, and make new friends.

Also just explain to her... that not all kids/families can come out to play, just because she wants to.
People have lives and other commitments and schedules.
Your daughter is 8.... years old.... and she can certainly understand that concept.
Explain to her..... openly.
But I would really enroll her in extra curricular activities....

2 moms found this helpful

well your best bet is to get a list of her classmates phone numbers and have her pick someone to either have come over after school or for the weekend. my lil brother is 8 yrs old will be 9 in november and we live in a neighbor hood with no kids. so we got him involved in football and we have some of the football kids come over on the weekends after football or he goes to there house

2 moms found this helpful

Most families are just too busy for playdates during the school year. Our 7 yr old son plays baseball and our 4 yr old twins play softball. With practices and games we are at home one night during the week. On the weekend we spend time as a family or do work around the house. We don't have any kids nearby either so it would be a big deal to arrange a playdate.
The worst thing you can do is allow your daughter to feel sorry for herself over this. This is the age when they really begin wanting approval from their peers and feeling rejected is tough. I would suggest that you tell her that you prefer that she not have playdates during
the week. This takes the pressure and disappointment over not having frequent playdates off her. Then if someone asks her
over during the week, you can "bend the
rules". Does that make sense? Then make arrangements for a friend to come over during the weekend without the expectation they will call your daughter for a playdate. Just be thankful for the time she has with that friend.

1 mom found this helpful

I prefer playdate and just having kids over. The problem is most people ..at least where I reside don't share the same opinion. Most people I know have their kids in way too many activites. Don't get me wrong we do the activities but everything is so scheduled. Don't get me wrong I am organized and believe in schedules.
Its not you its how the society is now a days. I have 3 kids. Most of the time they are having kids over here but they are invited over other kids houses.
This stuff confuses me half the time. I have a neighbor on my cul-de-sac.She comes across very pleasant with very nice kids. Her kids and my kids play very nicely together never any conflict. She always has one reason or another why her kids can't play. It hurts my feelings. My kids don't understand why these kids never play with them. My kids are very well behaved so I don't think its that. To my face she seems very polite..I don't understand but I am never going to try to have her kids again. Also my oldest takes tennis. My middle son takes twae kwon do and soccer. My youngest and my daughter takes soccer,ballet and gymnastics..but once again I would have them in less activites if kids in general were more available.

1 mom found this helpful

We have an only child, daughter now 15 almost 16. I had playdates alot when she was younger but we had neighbors all about the same age so we just played from yard to yard, etc.

I do suggest get her involved in extracurricular activities. My daughter's friends do not revolve within 1 group.

She studiend martial arts for 6 years and achieved her black belt in 2006. The group of students she trained with was very small as it was a private martial arts school. Many dear friends come from that group.

In middle school she took up the violin and loves the orchestra. She has a groups of friends through the orchestra group. She continues to play her violin in orchestra now in 10th grade.

She has been a cheerleader for 4+ yrs and has close ties to her cheer friends. She has a private cheer coach at a private cheer school and is friends with people at that school as well.

She is involved with Honors classes and has many study groups that meet at our house to work on projects.

Then she has the regular, normal group of teens she hangs out with at school as well.

Her friends come from all sorts of activities and backgrounds. I typically have a house full of teens now but have always had a house full of kids. They seem to like to be at our house (I love that) because there are no siblings around and they just hang out.

Enjoy because they grow up too fast.

1 mom found this helpful

I have two children, but they are four years apart. They actually "play" together pretty well and we don't do play dates during the week. But I have your same problem on the weekend. My older son is 15 and so he makes his own arrangements, but I never know what he is going to do until it happens. My 11 year old wants to have friends over all the time and we have them spend the night, just hang out and often take them to do fun things. It is very disappointing to me that we seem to do all of the inviting. My son is very well behaved and well liked, so I don't think that is the problem. Most of the time they are available to play, so I don't think it is that they are too busy. The other families are not large, but they do seem to be tight on money. My son doesn't need to be entertained, he would just like to be invited over to play at their house. What really annoys me is that since we invite the kids to do things, we always pay for them to do the activities. This would be fine if the other families reciprocated, but they don't. I am with you on how frustrating it can be to make all these arrangements. I don't understand why it should be so difficult. I don't care how many kids I have, if someone offered to come and pick my child up, entertain them for several hours and then bring them home, I would be thrilled!

1 mom found this helpful

I have twins so my girls have not had that same problem. We are, however, on the other side of the situation. We live in Fort Worth and my girls have become friends with a girl (only child) from South Arlington/Mansfield area. The girls met in acting class which is in Weatherford. What we do sometimes, including last night, is go for dinner after class in Fort Worth. Last night my girls' school was having a fundraiser night at Chuck E Cheese. The other girl and her mother came too, and they ended up inviting another friend of my daughters to her birthday party this weekend.

So the other little girl is really expanding her circle of friends. Plus, I have become friends with her parents and we all went to their family Memorial Day party earlier this year. We usually do dinner after class (we like to hit Rosa's Taco Tuesday) about once a month and a weekend playdate once a month.

Just get her out there and involved with other activities. Find something she enjoys dance, soccer, karate, etc and she will make friends.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a six year old (just turned six) and a one year old with special needs. I arrange about ten playdates a month, almost always at my house or I transport the kids to activities, like ice skating (my daughter ice skates) or the children's museum. Its usually with the same three or four friends over and over, but on occasion I try playdates with other kids. Normally other kids come up to me and ask for a playdate because they "hear" that I will take them places. I am okay with that, we have memberships where ever I take the kiddos and its fun to treat other kids. What I tell these kids is to have their parent contact me to set up the details of the playdate.

The playdates work out to about three a week, except for weeks where my son has important medical appointments. On those days I have my daughter picked up by a local child care facility where one of her very best friend goes every day after school. My daughter seems to be well liked by her peers but some playdates are more stressful than others. If a child comes to my home more than three times and can not be respectful, then I begin to limit the number of playdates with that child. Its too much work to parent another child. My infant son only has one playdate a month, that is solely for him, but he is always present at my daughters playdates and her better friends have younger siblings as well.

This is my first year as a stay at home mom, when I worked full time my daughter could only have about one playdate every other week, but because she was in full time childcare she was invited to about two birthday parties every month - so she had those playdates too.

No one in my daughters grade does ice skating with her, some of her classmates do ballet at the same studio as her, but the biggest source of non class friends has to be girl scouts - it really helps!
Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

i have an only who is also 8. right now, my daughter's first real friend is waiting on her mom to let her come over to our house. we have been waiting over a year now, so i don't think it is going to happen.
they do tons of things and even when i said i would babysit for free, they didn't say yes.

i have had two moms stop having playdates with my daughter. one because my daughter did not INSTANTLY leave when i arrived. the woman actually balled me out. i took it so my child could have someone to play with. a year later, i watched as the mom repeatedly tried to make her girl leave the pool. i wanted to give her the "she needs to obey you and instantly leave" lecture, but i was nice and myob.

another neighbor stopped letting her daughter come over after the dad found out the mom was telling me their business. their daughter misses us and begs to come over, then gets in big trouble.

i started going to a neighborhood park in another neighborhood and seeing kids from her school. we play there just to get kid time in. i used to do mcdonalds but the food is awful and the playground was filthy.

i also started inviting kids over whose parents were not as picky as i am.
some parents just want to get rid of their kids. i even take them home which is above and beyond. two girls had sisters i brought along. it worked out until this school year. the little girl keeps trying to get the older girls in trouble. i am not inviting them back for awhile.

a couple of moms explained their schedule to me in great detail. they wanted me to quit asking and i did. i miss our old neighborhood where we found kids in the park.

1 mom found this helpful

I have two kids, but my oldest still likes to have playdates with other kids. Sometimes I try so hard to set up something, but very rarely can the other moms make it. Everybody always seems really busy. My daughter gets a little sad when I can't get a hold of anybody, but I just tell her there is nothing I can do.

We do live in a neighborhood with lots of kids, but the little girl across the alley and her mom are at school all day until after 6, so we can hardly ever get together anymore. That has been hard on both me and my daughter.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm with the others who say try signing her up for a couple of extra after school or weekend activities. And try to build a few new relationships outside of the playdate exchange. That back and forth playdate obligation can just be too much for some families to add to their schedule. And sometimes people who don't know you very well yet aren't comfortable just sending their child over to play. Getting her into a few activities to break the ice with some new girls and families is a good idea. You can offer to take your daughter and one other little girl out for ice cream and the playground after a dance class, or have your daughter call a classmate to see if she would like to go bowling on Saturday afternoon. I have sometimes offered to pick my daughter and a friend up from school on Friday, and have the friend over to play, have dinner, and bring her home. If you offer something like this early in the week, it gives all involved a nice time to look forward to during the week. I never plan playdates on school days, because my kids do homework right after school, we have dinner, a little family time, and an early bed time. There just isn't enough time. Also, 8 is old enough for your daughter to be asking her classmates for phone numbers and with some guidance, asking and beginning to make the plans herself. If the parents are too involved in picking which kids are called for playdates and doing all the arranging, they don't get the advantage of building their own social skills.

1 mom found this helpful

Yes, she needs some extra-curricular activities ... sports, art classes, girls scouts, etc. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Since I have 4 kids, I am not in your situation as far as playdates. When my kids were younger, I didn't arrange playdates very often at all. The kids just played with each other mostly. However, my oldest is a social butterfly and wants friends over all the time. I think it has a lot to do with age and personality. That being said, maybe you could try to do activities with the girls. Instead of having a friend over to your house all the time, take them to the park, to a movie, maybe a fun trip to an apple orchard. Not that it always has to be an activity, but there may be an issue over control at the house. It's your daughter's stuff and her territory and even though they aren't fighting, the other girl may feel bossed when she's at your house. I'm not trying to imply your daughter is mean or anything, but I see it in my own 8 year old. She doesn't always want to play what her friend wants to or gets bossy because she's always getting bossed by her own brothers. The only child syndrome is alive and well within the 3rd child of 4, let me tell you!!! If it's neutral territory, maybe the girls will be able to have fun and there's no upper hand, so to speak. I'm also not saying you should be buying the friend's affection by spending money to entertain her. The park, window shopping and a hot chocolate at the mall, etc. are cheap/free things to think about. I spend more than a hot chocolate on food and snacks I hand out at my own home! Even if you planned activities to do at your house, like a movie night, pedicures, etc. If left to their own devices, sometimes 8 year old girls can spiral into sob-fests. If someone feels they are getting picked on or isn't allowed to do play what they want, emotions can run high. Having an ice-breaker, or activity can bring them together.

My 8 year old is in activities like cheer, volleyball, etc. She's around other kids almost every night after school. Even if it's not her own activity, she's hanging out at her brothers' practices. See if your daughter will agree to soccer, gymnastics, etc. I agree with another response in that we don't do playdates during the week, cuz we aren't home!! Or, there's enough to do with homework, etc.

I'm sure you already do this, but offer to come get the girl and bring her home. Sometimes that's a deal-breaker for us. My toddler is sleeping and the friend wants us to drive my son to his house.

It sounds like your daughter is in need of playdates, for sure. I would keep trying to reach the new girls in her class. Send a paper invitiation with her to school. Just ask in the note for the friend to come over and give them your phone #. This puts the ball in their court, but at least it's the first step.

I wish you and your daughter the best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have an only child and I feel like I'm always calling for playdates too. Usually accepted, but I think families with more than one kid just don't have it as a top priority to arrange playdates! They already have built in playdates! lol
Also, be specific...my son had one friend who used to call and say "can I get together with..." ???? What does that tell me? Him go there or the friend go here? Be clear about when, where & how long when you ask.
Try calling earlier in the week and arranging for later in the week.
As for the new friends in her class...it's a good thing. She'll meet new kids/new friends. tell her to ask for someone's phone number that she'd like to get together with.

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like maybe you need to get her into some athletics to find another outlet for her energy. It is also a good idea to maybe start encouaging her to do some things on her own. I was an only child so I very comfortable as an adult at entertaining myself. I know this is probably harder on you than her but remember part of parenting is letting her work on her own problems.
She will not always be able to be with someone else.

1 mom found this helpful

My advise has already been suggested several times. Get her involved in organized sports, dance, music or other activities outside of her school. It's a great opportunity to expand her circle of friends. I have two boys, and as I watch them play toghether, I could see how hard it is and has been for you to watch her not have a playmate. You do have to take action to plan things. As far as people not responding to playdates, for me, with two boys involved in sports, working full time, It's usually more about me when I to decline a playdate offer, b/c I have things to do or we have planned a family event and a 2 hour playdate now becomes a time contraint.Anyway, organized sports activities usually involve practice a couple times a week and a game or activity on Sat or Sun. So that should help. You are being a good mom.... always believe that and keep the faith!

1 mom found this helpful

We're pretty much in the same boat. My son is an only and it seems all his freinds have multi sibs so the parents aren't really looking outside their built in playdates within their own family. So yea I do the planning. The last playdate we had he went to his friends house who has 3 sibs all close in age, 3 boys and a girl. The mom wanted us there because she'd have to drive with all the kids to drop off her son and even though I offered to pick her son up it was easier for her. All the kids played with my son, he had a good time and she said she would call me for the next playdate, which she hasn't and I am not offended becasue she has 4 kids and she has a lot going on. Now that school is back in session we just have weekend playdates and my son has a BF so we pretty much hang with this family. And he has baseball and cubscouts to get him with other kids. Now the kids in my son's current class almost all of them take school bus home so when I pick up my son there are hardly any parents there of the kids my son likes and would want to set a play date up. So I send notes to the parents via my son and the kid then gives to their moms and we make plans that way. It's hard but when you have an only, in a neighborhood that isn't filled with kids you have to reach out for them.

1 mom found this helpful

My (only child) son is also a social butterfly... if he had HIS druthers, we'd have people over 24/7. It doesn't matter how much he's around others throughout the day... he just LOVES being around people. He gets energy from it. CLASSIC extrovert.

So that said... I try and keep it down to 2 a week tops (or we just get massively behind) ... but we'll also go several weeks w/out playdates just because either a) we're busy or b) they're busy.

We are in TONS of activities, but it doesn't help. My son just loves being around people.

In talking with other parents, the 3 biggest obstacles in our area tend to be:

- daycare
- family time
- "rotation"/fairness

Most of the families we know not only have built in playdates with other kids (sibs), but both parents work. So that means that M-F playdates are all but impossible. School-Daycare-Dinner-Homework-Bath-Bed. While rearranging daycare is possible for some families, most of the time it's not. Then weekends get REALLY busy as families try and spend time together, set up playdates, go to sports games, church/religious obligations, extended family time, adult friend time / girls or guys nights out/ datenights, saturday birthday parties, and trying to rotate playdates not only between friends to keep it kind of fair/even, but also between sibs for the same reason. Assuming one of their kids has 3-5 good friends/besties... and they actually rotated to try and see all of them, that means only being able to playdate once a month per family. When sibs get involved it gets even trickier... because some families can handle multiple friends over at the same time, and some can't.

Ditto... we tend to be the ones reaching out. Which is ironic, because I'm actually pretty introverted. Same token, however, our schedule tends to be the most "flexible". All of the above, plus as a family of an only, we don't have to also take into account other sibs schedules (like naps, etc.).

I figure it's a temporary thing. At age 8, he and most of his friends, still have to arrange things through US. Which means instead of just knocking next door (we don't have that kind of neighborhood either), they have to deal with 2 entire family's schedules. And instead of just being able to phone themselves and set up a meetup at a local park, etc (like around age 12), they still have to be supervised playdates.

For myself, we've had to turn down playdates in the past because of prior commitments... but I LOVE it when other people to the leg work/ are calling me.

I have an 8 year old daughter and my steadfast rule is one playdate a week. She plays volleyball and soccer, takes piano lessons and is in TAG classes so her homework level is high.
It concerns me if a mom tries to arrange a playdate as the kids are getting to the age where they can talk about it themselves & get permission.
Disappointment is a natural thing kids must experience. And the acting out in class offers you the perfect opportunity to "restrict" playdates until her behavior improves markedly.

First, let me say, I've told my kids the answer is a flat no if they don't ask the right way, which means they need to hang up the phone and come ask me when they don't have that person waiting on the phone. Maybe you don't have that problem with an only child, but when you have 2 asking for friends to come over, sleep over, etc., you want your child to ask where you are not put on the spot. That being said, I do think it may be the difference between having 1 child and more than one. I have 3. When my kids ask for a friend to come over, several things go through my head...does this child make things easier or harder for me (meaning do I have to really supervise b/c they'll fight and/or get into trouble or do they entertain themselves and make things easier on me). Second, how hard is it to get it taken care of, will their parents bring them over or am I going to have to stop what I'm doing, pack everyone up just to go pick this child up and then again to bring them home. Finally, what do I need to get done? Sometimes it's just easier to not have extra kids over when you are trying to fold laundry, or complete a project like painting a room, etc. Once I've thought those things through, I can usually answer yes or no to the playdate. It's also easier for me to have my oldest home sometimes b/c she helps with the youngest (she's 10, he's 2), so sometimes I don't want her to go off because I need some help. Sometimes we just want some family time, sometimes we want the kids to finish chores or help in the yard. It all depends. So, yes, to answer your question, I think some of this is an only child vs. multiple children. Your house maybe doens't get as messy with one child, or maybe it's not as hard on you to pick up after her since it's just one. I sometimes get overwhelmed with the house having clothes and toys everywhere and I just want everyone to help pick up and not have extra kids that will help make more of a mess! All that being said, we probably have kids over at least once a week for one thing or another. Between the 2 big kids, we have a lot of activities, so there are only a few days/nights that we are free to have someone over and it's only after homework is done and when it's not too close to dinner time. Weekends are usually easier. And, it's ABSOLUTELY easier to invite the neighbor over for 15 minutes than to try to set up a playdate! If you are finding that your child doesn't get asked over to other's houses very often, you may want to ask that parent if your child behaves when they are at their house. Say something like "Karen is so sweet when she is at our house, it's just a pleasure to have her over. I hope that Gina behaves the same way at your house. Please feel free to tell me if she acts up so I can discuss it with her at home." Give them the opportunity to tell you if she's doing something that they don't like at their house. Most likely, it's just that the family is busy and has a house full of kids over anyway...oh, and I almost forgot, there is always the "if she's having a friend over, I want one too" and with 6 kids, that REALLY fills your house! If they say everything is fine when she comes over, then just continue to invite friends over to your house if that makes things easier on you. My daughter is in tumbling, choir at school, and art club at school. These activities tend to give her time with her friends without us having to invite them over all the time. I think you are right to try to foster the new friendships with the new classmates. You might also check into choir or youth activities at your church. That will open up a whole new set of people for her to befriend, and maybe she'll find another friend that she enjoys. I do have to say that I don't always have kids over as much as I feel other families do, but that's just the way I want it. I like calm in my house and extra kids don't always foster that. We have friends that have kids over all the time.

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