Playdate 'Etiquette' for 9 Year Old Girls (Details Added)

Updated on May 30, 2014
M.2. asks from Downers Grove, IL
24 answers

I'm hoping for some insight on the 'typical' play date of your 8-9 year old daughter(s). What do the girls do? How many play dates a week does your daughter have?

I seriously H-A-T-E play dates - regardless if their at our home or someone else's - and I'm feeling awful about my attitude towards them and wondering if I just need to chill out and let me daughter be a kid!

ETA - Thank you all for your responses! I guess I should have elaborated on my strong dislike of the way my daughter and her friends act when they get together outside of school - they go absolutely crazy! I feel as though I need to be supervising them constantly or something will get broken, damaged, or simply destroyed which should not be necessary at this age. My daughters room gets trashed to the point of even items in drawers are pulled out and thrown around the room - our basement/playroom gets trashed - food wrappers that they had snuck were all over the floor - and my younger daughters' play kitchen toys, Barbie stuff and play money end up everywhere including the bathroom! When asked to clean up they say they did but then I discover the mess when the friend has gone home and my daughter refuses to clean up because she didn't make the mess herself. That was just inside the house - outside they managed to knot several jump ropes to the swing set, pour a galloon container of bubble solution down our play set slide and threw a ton of rubber mulch into the grass! I really feel / felt that at this age they could be left to play on their own with very limited supervision and from reading most of your responses I was right. The reason I don't like when my daughter goes to a friends' house either is because at pick up the girls will run away and hide - sometimes behind a locked door and refuse to listen to either myself or the other parent. This is done at our house too! I was thinking that maybe I'm just too hard on my daughter by expecting her to have control during a play date because I've seen her and her friends in action at the other house too and it's complete chaos and the other parent(s) don't seem at all bothered by it and this is with more than just one of her friends. They simply say kids will be kids - what!

I love that my daughter has friends and would have no problem with her having friends over or going to a friends' house more often (after homework) but it's just a total nightmare in my opinion that I find myself avoiding at all costs! I must say that if my daughter was spending time having the type of fun that your daughter(s) have with their friends it'd be a dream! I'd love to let her have friend(s) over so I could get some cooking / cleaning / reading done!

I know that I am part of the problem by letting them get away with it and I'm working on 'toughening' up but it's really hard for me! I'm hope I get some more advice but please go easy on me :)

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I don't get the whole "playdate" thing and we never did it. When I was nine, after breakfast, we went outside, all the neighbor kids did the same, and we played until time to go home for lunch. After lunch, we went back oput and played.
No one planned activities and games for us. We played whatever we felt like playing at the moment.
My daughter did the same.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My kids just hang out. They do whatever they want and I only intervene if it gets out of hand. I don't schedule play dates for any of my kids, they are 7, 9, and 10.

I prefer them at my house, but the kids also like to go to other kids houses, and I'm okay with that too.

Just let them play though.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

They do what they want! At 9, she should be calling a friend herself and say can you come over an play then you settle time etc with other mother. I don't understand this "play date" mentality. Kids go out after school and play!!!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

My younger boys are 8 & 10 and they usually hang out with a friend at least one weekday (I work from home 3 days a week) and then usually Saturday and/or Sunday. When my daughter was that age, the girls would watch TV or a movie, ride bikes or go for a walk, play in the yard, paint nails/do hair, listen to music, draw, do a craft, play a game, walk up to the playground, etc. Other than making sure that I knew where they were and offering snacks and drinks as needed, there was nothing I needed to do.

If you don't want her to get together with friends, what else do you want her to do with her free time?

ETA after your's a discipline problem and not a play date problem. Play dates should be fun for the kids and virtually no work for you. If I were you, I'd first have a sit down with your daughter and explain that there are new standards in place and she'll adhere to them or lose the privilege of socializing with friends. Then when a rambunctious kid comes over, sit down with the child and your daughter and explain the new rules. Be prepared to have to be the enforcer the first few times. Set a firm end time for the child to be picked up and announce 15 minutes before that it's time to clean up.

Your daughter needs to take on more responsibility for managing her own behavior and setting expectations for how her friends are allowed to behave in your home. She's old enough to take this on if you guide her. It will take a bit of work at first but it will be so worth it.

Oh and that run and hide nonsense? I had patience for that when my kids were in Kindergarten. After that? No.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Few things make me happier than seeing my kids play with their friends. At least at our house, playdates (and who cares what word is used?) are painless for me and the kids use their imaginations or play cards or make something or ride bikes etc. Rarely do I have to get involved. That stopped around age 5 or 6. They love playing with their friends so they play on the weekends and sometimes once or twice during the week. We have half day school one day a week and Fridays there's no homework...You do need to add why you hate them so much. I find they make my life way easier. I watch TV sometimes! Or I get stuff done around the house. I do supply snacks if it's a long playdate but that's it. I love hearing them giggle and make up fun games. Maybe your daughter just isn't used to them and therefore kind of doesn't know how to have a friend over?... Imaginary and spontaneous play is important for development from what I've read so you may want to try to foster it.

ETA: after reading your SWH, I'd hate them too. But yes, that shouldn't be how they are at these ages. These other parents don't mind?? That might be part of the problem. Your daughter thinks it's ok based on what she does at other people's houses. And/or if she has the play dates infrequently, she may be SO excited about it she can't contain herself. So I would start having more frequent short ones and make sure they don't make these messes, go crazy etc. Then gradually increase the time if they earn it. It definitely can be done! I've had several girls over at once and no mess... It's important she learns to play in a respectable manner so I would start slowly and build those skills and discipline. She's old enough to talk to and explain this is how it's going to go or no more play dates at all. I'm sure her and her friends aren't like this in school...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Can you say why you hate them? Unless it's a difficult friend, I think they're great. I love to see my kids having fun and just playing. They usually have them once during the week and at least one on the weekends. Sometimes they're not prearranged but just neighborhood kids. I don't do much at these ages. I feel it's impt they entertain themselves and usually they have no problem doing so and beg me to make the playdate longer. So yes. Chill out and let your daughter be a kid! It's so important! Childhood is for playing at least some if the time, not being a little adult. I have such fond memories of playing with friends as a kid.

Oh. They do various things. AG dolls. Trampoline. Dance to music. Legos. This week my oldest took a huge box that came and started making an elaborate fort with her friend.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

By 9, it's not so much a "play date" as it is just playing at your house. They shouldn't need much supervision... Just poke your head in every few hours. They don't really need you to give them stuff to do either... They can entertain themselves. The most you need to do is just be at the house, and maybe provide a snack or something if you think they need one. (Totally optional.)

During the school year, we only played at friends' houses 2-3 times a week, and maybe on weekends if we didn't have family stuff going on. During the summer, it was almost daily... Just switching houses every so often to avoid driving our parents insane. Lol.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We had play dates a lot at our house and at other friend's homes. Our house was usually the go to house due to space, no siblings to deal with and the girls just having fun. Actually after preschool they weren't called play dates. Kids just got together

I tried to keep weekly times at 2 hours and I was more lax on weekends and holidays. I took my cues from the girls but I also made pre-arranged pick up times where I was completely flexible either way but it was an out if I needed to redirect one too many times if needed.

I personally enjoyed having the children here because I knew what they were doing at all times vs the unknown at someone else's house.

My daughter is now pushing 20 and moved out to her own condo. We have a great relationship and thank God she's only 1/2 hr away going to college. She just spent mist if this week back here while we got her floors redone in the condo. We loved reliving our nightly tv shows and chat time. I'm texting to her now back and forth as I type.

Let your girl have fun... She needs a circle if friends.. They grow up way too fast and she's going to be heading to college before you blink your eyes!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Can you elaborate on what's happening during these play dates?
In general, I liked them, because my girls were happy and occupied.
I always liked my kids (one boy and two girls) having friends over because that gave me free time to do what I wanted to do.
Occupied kids = happy mom.
So what exactly is happening during play date time? Drama? Arguing?
Maybe they need different friends.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I have boys, but I don't imagine it is much different with boys than it is with girls. My son will invite a friend over to play, the friend comes over and they do whatever my son would normally do. They may play inside or outside, play some video games or watch a movie, go to the playground or for a bike ride. I am not involved in their activities, other than to give them a snack if they are hungry, and they check with me before going anywhere or taking stuff out of storage. If they are being to loud or rambunctious I will send them outside, if they are making a mess I will tell them to clean it up. If they are arguing I will tell the guest it's time to go home. My boys get together with their friends once or twice during the school week and for most of the weekend.

They stopped having "playdates" by the time they were in kindergarten.

The kids usually take turns at each others houses, but some seem to come here more than my kids go to their houses. My house is more fun I guess.

I guess I can see not liking having extra kids at your house (although I don't mind it), but what's not to like about your kid going over to a friends house?

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answers from Richland on

My kids have always gone over to friends or had friends over. I never really pay attention to what they do. They play, I clean, or cook, or heck watch TV.

So maybe stop having playdates and let them play with their friends

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I have 4 kids, if I tried to direct their play I would drive myself crazy. Friends are allowed over after school after homework is done. If my kids go to a friends house or to the park or out for a walk (common around here) they have to be home by the time the street lights come on. In the summer, the teens are allowed to stay out later; on the weekends it's not unusual for 1 or more kids to be sleeping over here, or for any of my kids to be sleeping somewhere else. I don't plan these, the kids do and have since they were about 8 or so. But my kids also hang out with each other and don't always need to have a friend over to have fun. They keep each other occupied most of the time.
They play video games, watch tv, play cards or board games...oh sometimes they make movies with their cameras, build things in the backyard, hang out on the front porch...the usual stuff. I don't get why you hate them so much? I mean, I get why someone might not like having their kids' friends over all the time (we all have our own tolerance levels) but you don't even like it when she goes to someone else's house? That doesn't make any sense.
I had four kids because I like kids and I like a house full of activity and fun. I wanted big holidays, lots of friends over, and the joy of watching them grow into their own "person". Why did you have kids? I'm not being snarky, but if you don't like it when your girls get together with their friends, then what exactly are they suppose to do? Just play together?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

8-9 year olds don't usually have "playdates". They might go to a friends house or have a friend over their house to play though. But it does not have to be structured or scheduled. It just comes up and whatever happen during them just happens. Nothing to get uptight about.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We've had a lot of playdates with both of my kids and the ones I hate are due to difficult children. We've had a few that were really draining. That said, most of our playdates are awesome. There are some kids who come over, play, eat a snack, play more and then go home. Those are the kids I invite back. For the girls, they usually play pretend for hours, or make up skits and dance routines, draw, and things like that. They can entertain each other for hours. I don't plan it at all, since they can find fun things to do themselves. I just plan to have a decent snack. Sometimes we have kids come home with our kids on the bus and then the parents pick them up around 5:30 or so. Then they get a couple of hours to play and it's easy for us. Their parents enjoy that they don't have to pay for after school care on those days if they work too.

We also have great neighbors, so our kids do spontaneous "playdates" all the time and they run in the yards and then occasionally go inside for some quieter play. It's nice to have that balance. We have the house where all the kids come in to play and we love it like that. I don't mind the noise. I do understand the challenge that some playdates become if you have difficult kids over. We had one who tried to steal from us. We have had kids who throw balls in the house and break things. Some are whiney, some are screen focused. But for the most part, we have had great experiences.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Well according to your description of your daughter and her friends and how they act when they have a get together... I wouldn't want her friends over at my house either.
I mean, they turn the house into a huge mess and are not respectful of anything. They all have, VERY poor behavior.

I have a daughter. And a son. I have always had lots of get togethers for them, at our house. Or at their friend's house. I don't mind. Also because, my kids and their friends, are well behaved and respectful. And their parents are, too. So it is perfectly fine. And they all have fun and are independent and don't make a huge drama. I let them play and do what they want. And they are fine and appropriate.

My kids are 11 and 7. I have had get togethers for them since they were even 2 years old. And it has always been fine. I am not Marry Poppins and I don't "entertain" them. They play and are independent. And well mannered. And they behave.

Your daughter and her friends, don't seem to behave very well at all.
So in your case, no. I would not have, any kids over.

Whatever you call it, play-date or socials or get togethers, it is about the kids getting together and playing. And arranging a time/place. Per my kids, it is with friends (not neighbors) who live in driving distance. Not just a next door kid. So play "dates" has to be arranged. And regardless of how old my kids are, no, they don't just go ahead and call their friends and make plans... WITHOUT me knowing. They ask me first, if it is okay.

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answers from Detroit on

zero.. they get home from school at 430.. homework, dinner, bath.. playtime and bed at 8ish.. no time of the weekdays.. oh and 1 day is dance and 1 day is soccer..

one the weekends we stay busy.. Saturday I can always find something to do.. and sunday is church.. who has time for playdates..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

My son (9) would have friends over every day if he could, and it does make things easier when he has someone to be with. My daughter, though, prefers to be alone and only gets with friends when I initiate it. She rarely asks. And we still call them play dates. Whatever. It's a hell of a lot easier to say play date than "a time to get the kids together to hang out"

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answers from Washington DC on

ADDED after your details and I'll edit out my first reply since it needed the details....
Thanks for filling us in! You're right to be frustrated!

First, work with your own daughter when there's no play date happening. Is she a kid who doesn't like to clean up her messes, period, even when another kid wasn't involved? If so, that needs work -- I'd even make play dates contingent on her working with you to clean up beforehand and being crystal clear with her that you WILL inspect before her friend leaves later, and if daughter refuses to clean up there will be a real consequence. Sit her down and have a firm talk about why she is risking never having a friend over again. If they are pulling out drawers, going into the bathroom to play, etc., they lack boundaries and occupation. Be sure she understands what specific actions will end play dates for a long time to come AND get her a consequence (something taken away for a certain amount of time) if she and her friend do those actions.

And be sure to:
One, have specific things available for the girls to do. You don't have to order them around, but should have some things around like craft kits that are easy to do, pens and paper, outdoor toys, whatever. If things get crazy, do not hesitate to direct them to what is available and say "You can choose to do X or Y right now" -- it breaks the pattern of randomly tearing up a room and "exploring" in your stuff. Some moms will say "Oh, no, that's micromanaging" but at eight, some kids are still not great at sustaining play or at deciding what to do if there are two of them. It beats the heck out of letting them figure out what to do and ending up with a nightmare of mess.

Two, start winding down the play date 30 minutes before pickup--you get the girls, assess any messes and tell them while you stand there that "It's time to clean up now because Susie's mom is coming in 20 minutes." Stand there and chat with them as all three of you pick up but ensure they do the most. Don't tell them "clean up" and leave them at is too huge an order and they will be overwhelmed and not do it...though they will be less overwhelmed if you've been checking in frequently to ensure they are not making a huge mess for hours.

Three, ensure they can't sneak food. Tell them at the start of the play date that you will happily provide a delicious snack later (about halfway through is good) and put all other food out of their reach long before the playdate. Tell your daughter before the play date that if they sneak any food, there will be no snack for her or her friend, and she, not you, will have to tell her friend why. If they whine, don't cave. Frankly I'd ensure my kids didn't have free and open access to snack foods at any time until they were old enough to know to ask, or to be trusted to not make a mess.

A big part of this is your daughter and the fact that when another kid's around she loses whatever respect she shows for the house and the stuff in it. Tell her that, and tell her that her next play date will determine whether she has others. Also-if kids run and hide when the parent who is picking them up arrives, the parent doing the picking up can clearly say, if you don't come out now, you will lose X.

I've heard a parent whose kid was hiding with his host at pickup, call to her kid that "If you don't come now, we are not going out to dinner from here like we planned. You have until the count of 10." That kid scooted out pretty fast. But he also knew mom would DO it -- she would really haul him home and be very clear that his own actions meant he lost a dinner out that he wanted to have, even though it cost her dinner out too.

Play dates can be terrific for your kid and for you. They let you get to know your child's friends better which is wonderful (and helpful--we need to know our kids' friends!). They also teach your child how to be a host and how to be a guest. Your daughter will do better on play dates as she gets older, but for now, it sounds like more direction and monitoring and suggestion is needed for her play dates, as well as before the play dates, so your child understands that there are no play dates without HER being responsible for what happens and for the condtion of the house afterward.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Buffalo on

My dd had many friends over at that age...usually at our house because she's an only child. We frequently did the inviting because she didn't have siblings to play with. You should let them decide what they want to do. Many times it was easier for me to have a friend over because then my dd had someone to do things with and she wasn't depending on me to entertain her.

The only exception to this is if there was a difficult kid over..or if there was more than one over. This gets very competitive and the whole atmosphere changes. We usually figured out who she clicked with and had one at a time come over.

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answers from Washington DC on

when i was that age i would get the treat of a sleepover once every couple of months. but i played with neighborhood kids anywhere from daily to almost never, depending on how the hierarchies fluctuated.
my boys 'hung out' with neighborhood kids nearly daily until we moved to a more rural area, and then with friends as often as we could reasonably arrange. since we homeschooled then it was several times a week.
if it was't a focused activity, ie studying or a field trip, they did whatever they wanted. it wasn't my parents' job to direct my play, and i didn't do so with my kids. naturally there were rules- no horseplay in the house, outside is the place for outside voices, watch the language, no bloodshed, limited screen time, stay on the property unless you let me know where you're going and for how long, don't scare the horses.
i do think you need to chill out and let your daughter(s?) be a kid. playdates should not be more work for mothers other than arranging, driving, and making sure snacks are available. when done right, playdates should actually free up some time for you.
don't micromanage your kids' play.
ETA, okay, after reading your clarification, it's not the playdates that are a problem, but that you really really need to develop boundaries and a calm, inexorable NO. and that's all the time, not just during playdates.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think play dates are for preschool age kids. At the age you're talking about that's just friends coming over to each others houses. They go to the bedroom and hang out. No supervision is really needed directly. I'd still be in their general vicinity so I could overhear what they were doing but pretty much letting them hang out alone.

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answers from Chicago on

Friends over pretty much only on Friday. M-T homework is done afterschool. I refuse to let that be interrupted unless its something important.
Weekends are family time. Our girls only get to see their dad (during the year because of earlier bedtimes) a couple of hours each night. So Saturday & Sunday are out normally.

Friday afterschool is my "I'm open to friends coming over after school, day". This is also the only night I like to have sleepovers. Despite the fact that I'm wiped out by Friday, it works out because the kids are usually tired on Friday as well. The up all night thing doesn't really happen. :) summer...weekdays are pretty much an anything goes. Except sleepovers, thats still only on Friday. Dad has to get up @ 5:30 during the week :)

Having a day set aside to be open to kids coming over works out nice because I am never bombarded at school with can so & so come over? Or can I go to so & so's house at the last minute or daily. It also works out because the girls are more incline to ask a friend ahead of time so that their one day to have a friend is not wasted. I like having a heads up.



answers from Cleveland on

I H A T E them tooo,

and at 9 you we still call them playdates ( that does not mean a parent tags along) i call them play dates because adults arrange them and drive them to and from. I'm not going to take some kids say so that mom will be home and expecting me when I pull in the driveway to drop off my kid.

The nice playdates are when the girls draw w chalk in our driveway, paint each other's fingernails. play dolls, draw together.

yucky ones are when each kid tries to do what the other wants but doesn't actually want to so only does it for 5 mins before hoppign to a new activity and that falling apart and them hopping to something else, just as I'm nagging them to pick up from the first activity.

I have had them help me make teats lilke rice crispy treats or brownies. sometimes that works sometimes it doesn't. Eating a snack is usally a nice thing to keep them busy for a bit.

we limit them to weekends. and I can't handle one every weekend, and I can't handle brother and sister having one at the same time unless it's the one family that has sibs like ours and are super super nice.

I do feel guilt that I hate playdates, I don't like sending them to peoples houses either since there have been so many times that I asked about the plan only to find out they did something competley different. ex thought they were hanging out at the house, mom called and said they were at the mall. though ds was playing nerf guns and having sleepover, got at call at 9 pm sayng they were going to take all the boys to the movies 2 towns over and was that ok. not really?!?!

But then I just think how my kids will have NO friends and be intolerant of others and then I cave and set up another one.


answers from Williamsport on

My 8 yo daughter meets up with her 8yo neighbor friend and another one randomly. It's actually pretty painless at this age IF kids are well behaved like one of the friends. Her neighbor friend is really sweet and they just hang out in yard or in her room or sometimes we all go to park with bikes if I have time...they get their own snacks and start their own movies....I don't mind at all if this friend shows up at door or if my daughter asks to go to her house. Her mom is cool and we both have identical standards, rules and feelings about it. We watch to make sure girls cross street safely when meeting or going back home.

Her OTHER friend however is a royal pain in the butt (long story why I feel sorry for her and maintain the friendship a bit) so we do playdates IN SMALL DOSES, usually outdoors for limited time frame, like an hour at the park or whatever. Sleepovers had to stop with that friend and I just chalked it up to my daughter being "too low on sleep" the following day and didn't go into detail about the friend's awful behavior or her grandma's tolerance for unacceptable activities (imo).

So. Depending on the kids, play dates can be a nice break for you and your child at that age. Or a pain in the butt.

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