Getting social: managing play dates

Toddlers are beginning to make new friends, but you are still your child’s favourite playmate and it’s important for you to be involved in playtime.

As your child learns how to interact with other children, keep play dates short and be prepared to step in to guide the play, if necessary. They may need some time to develop the social skills necessary for play, or may be shy when meeting new people. This is okay, some people are outgoing, and some are not. Toddlers may play alongside other children at first, rather than with them. This is called parallel play.

Your child may also have imaginary friends. These friends grow out of healthy imaginations and allow your child to practice social skills.

Playdates and playgroups are a great way to allow your child to interact with other children and be an opportunity for you to strengthen your support network. Check out some more information on playgroups here.

Image Babies, toddlers and young children play together as part of a playgroup


Published — 30 August 2016 Last updated — 04 November 2016

Want personalised tips and activities?

Complete these short questions to get personalised tips and activities to see how simple and easy it can be.

Get started
01 / 05

What is your relationship with the child?


What best describes your location?


If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?


And finally…

Do you speak another language at home apart from English?
Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
Now we know a little more about the content that might interest you we’ve compiled it into a handy page for you.