Paediatricians in the United States are different than paediatricians in Australia because they are primary care doctors, like GP’s for children. Paediatricians in Australia are specialists that GP’s refer to for more complex issues.
But paediatricians the world over, like all other parents, hope their children will be safe when they play at another child’s home.
According to this recent article in the HuffPost the most likely things paediatricians in the US usually ask about before a playdate are:
- Guns in the home
- Swimming pool supervision
- Whether anyone in the home is ill with something contagious and if the family is immunised
- Screen/tech time and supervision
- Pets and whether they are child friendly
Leading Steps Paediatrician Dr Annelise Wan is the mum of four young boys.
Living on the Gold Coast her concerns our concerns are a bit different from paediatricians in the US.
Guns (thankfully) are not an issue (possibly unless the child was visiting a farm.)
Dr Wan says she is more likely to check about:
- Pool and surf supervision
- Bikes on roads
- Boating and tinnies on the waterways
- Unrestricted and/or unsupervised internet and
- Quad bikes when kids live on nearby acreage blocks or farms (definitely no)
Dr Wan says that instead of quizzing playdate parents about activities and supervision which could sound judgemental she tends to tell the parents a bit about her child, their personality and limitations.
For instance depending on the age of the child she might say, “he needs close supervision around the pools as he tends to overestimate his abilities and sinks really quickly. For the older boys I mention supervision because of their tendency to fool around in the pool.”
In the same way, if bike riding is planned Dr Wan explains what her family set as boundaries and hope the parents follow suit.
"So I might say something like: 'We let #1 son go off on bikes on small internal roads- but he has no experience on major roads so he is not allowed to ride on those, or #2 son has no road sense, please make sure he is watched carefully if out on bikes.’"
Different families have different rules around computer and YouTube use. This is sometimes hard to discuss as it’s tempting for parents to use as a babysitter when friends are visiting.
Dr Wan says "I try to avoid playdates for my kids if I know they are likely to involve unlimited and/or unsupervised computer use. It’s getting harder as the kids get older.”
Playdates are usually great fun for kids and good for their social development, but it can be a worry, especially if you don't know the host very well. Setting some expectations can be helpful to make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to activities and supervision.
What is important for you to check when your child goes on a playdate?