Is My Son a Playdate Nightmare?

Kids Fighting Over Toy

Do you ever wonder what your children are like when they go over to a friend’s house for a playdate? Do they walk through their house with dirty shoes, rummage through their refrigerator for something sugary to eat, or leave their toys/clothes/dishes all over the house? If you do wonder about your children’s playdate manners you are not alone!

Susan D., from Charlotte emailed me her etiquette question that I would like to share with you. She asked, “My son used to be invited to his friend’s house all the time, but recently his friend’s mother hasn’t wanted my son to come over. Can you please tell me what I need to teach my son so that he is a well-mannered guest and I won’t have to worry if he’s being a nightmare child?”

Teach your kids how to be a polite guest while on a playdate with these four easy tips:

1. Polite greeting. When your child goes to someone’s home, remind him/her that they should say hello to the parents (even if they have to seek them out), and any siblings that are around and then stay and talk with them for a couple of minutes. If they are meeting the parents for the first time, they will get parent “brownie points” if they introduce themselves and then shake hands and say “It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Whomever.” I can tell you from experience that last week when a boy came over to our house to play and rushed past me without even a “Hello”, I wasn’t impressed.

2. Clean up. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is to clean up after more kids! I love a guest who cleans up her stuff when she’s done playing, takes her dishes to the kitchen sink after lunch, and puts her shoes in the shoe basket and not in the middle of the floor. Remind your kids that when they are visiting other people’s houses that they should put away anything they use. If they do this, it will surely be noticed and appreciated by the parents.

3. Be sweet. I won’t name names, but a few years ago my daughter’s friend kicked my younger son when she was at our house on a playdate. Did that child ever get invited back you ask? Heck, No!  Please convey to your kids that when they are visiting someone’s home, they need to behave even better than they do at home IF they want to be invited back. This means, no fussing about toys or who goes first, not being mean to their siblings, not doing something they know is forbidden, etc. If the long term goal is to continue being invited back to this friend’s house, then kids need to remember to be sweet and play nice.

4. Say “Thank you”. Remind your kids to say “please” and “thank you” often. Like, “May I please have some water? Thank you.” And, certainly when your child is leaving their house it is important for them to go to the parents and say “Thank you for having me over. I had a great time.” The magic words can do magic for parents!

For more information on children’s etiquette and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog. Thank you!

Aimee Symington is an etiquette expert who has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today, is the inventor of the nationally-selling boardgame on manners called “Blunders”, and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.