When my 6-year-old daughter had playdates back in preschool as well as this past year in kindergarten, there was often a lot of angst at the end when trying to get the kids to finish up and separate. There were some bad scenes–tantrums, crying, the kids trying to run away and hide, even another parent involved bribing the kids with candy, only to have them run away again right after getting it!
So I was struck by the brilliant point in one of the Hand in Hand classes about using connection to end a playdate. Recently, when we had another girl over at our house and the playdate was supposed to come to end soon, I went into the closet where the two girls were playing with a toy fairy castle and warmly observed them and interacted with them for a few minutes. I told them it would be time to go soon and asked if there was one more fun thing they would like to do before the playdate was over.
My daughter's friend suggested an obstacle course, and I responded enthusiastically about how that would be really fun and a great way to finish up her time at our house. So we all created an obstacle course together–involving jumping over stuffed animals, pillows, into hula hoops–which I purposely designed to lead from my daughter's room, out our front door, right up to the fence of our front yard.
I put our guest's shoes at the end of the obstacle course so that putting them on would be the final hurdle, and enlisted my husband to time the proceedings with a stopwatch while I narrated the proceedings like a sports announcer.
It went great! Sure beats the standard five-minute warning and chorus of “Nooooo!” and resistance.
–A happy parent in Los Angeles