Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Dear Debbie

Dear Debbie,

How about some ideas for making a graceful exit at the end of a playdate. Our current tradition of a full-blown tantrum in our friend’s foyer leaves a bit to be desired. Help!

Ah, playdates. They’re all fun and games until its time to leave. With the holiday vacations, you’ll likely have a few these. It’s a great time to practice some new exit strategies. The key is to put yourself in a child’s shoes. He’s having a great time and is unfazed by your concerns about a grocery list, getting home to clean up before company comes, finishing off holiday shopping, or needing to beat the traffic. So focus on things he does care about (toys, fun, and seeing his friend again). Try these transitions before announcing “time to go!”

• Show me the toy you want to play with next time and I’ll write down its name.

• It’s time to make up a great ending for your game.

• We’re leaving in two minutes. Make sure you play with your favorite toy!

• Make your silliest faces at each other as we walk out.

• See if you can be out the door by the time your friend counts to 10!

• I brought you a snack to eat on the way home.

• Can you wave good-bye and walk to the car at the same time?

• You can borrow one toy to return later. (Parents need to ask first!)

• Would you like to race to the car or have a piggy-back ride?

• Let’s make a date to play again! Mark it with a star on the calendar.

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