Dr. Mom Mondays: When Playdates Go Bad

14 Mar

I have an exciting announcement!

Mondays at The Little Hen House are now “Dr. Mom Mondays.”

Some of you may have heard me mention that my mother is a psychotherapist. Well, I’ve convinced her to host a weekly series here on The Little Hen House, in which she answers all your tough parenting/relationship questions. She’s pretty awesome at her job and I seem to have turned out relatively healthy and normal, at least that’s what my therapist tells me. So umm… yeah.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, my mom is going to be here every Monday for “Dr. Mom Mondays.” Now, the only way this will work if is if you all participate in my brilliant plan. I encourage you to email me with any parenting or relationship questions you have. I’ll be picking one of your questions to feature every week with a link back to your blog, or I can keep your identity a secret if that works better for you. Everyone needs a little confidentiality from time to time too.

My mom will personally respond to the weekly question here on my blog and then we can all chime in on the comments below. The idea behind Dr. Mom Mondays is to create a community for all of us to share our experiences and support each other during our adventures in motherhood. We will have our own Dr. Mom as the licensed therapist/voice of reason and the rest of us to lend a girlfriend’s point of view.

Are you ready for the first installment of Dr. Mom Mondays? Me too! Today’s question comes from yours truly, as this is what sparked the whole “Dr. Mom Mondays” idea. It’s a real-life problem that I am struggling with, and I know that many other mothers have the same issue.

Please email your Dr. Mom Mondays question to morgan(at)thelittlehenhouse(dot)com. Thanks guys!


My 4-year-old daughter has a good friend who can be aggressive at times, hitting and pushing and slapping my child when they have conflicts during play dates.  How should I handle this with my child, the little friend, and the other mom?


Let’s start with making the best assumption — that the “aggressive” child needs a better way to handle her frustrations. The next time the girls are together, start out the play date with a practice session BEFORE ANY PROBLEM HAS COME UP.  Stay cheerful and positive, like a good coach – make this a bit of fun!

Tell the girls that you are going to teach them something that many kids don’t know — what to do and say if they get frustrated with one another.   First, have them practice saying out loud, “I am frustrated!” while they sit down at the same time.  It is very important that they sit down as soon as they say the sentence “I am frustrated!”  Be sure you join along in the practicing, getting up in between and sitting down again with the sentence.

Then have them practice saying, “How can I help you?” When they can say both sentences clearly, set up a practice session with you having a toy that they want.  They will sit down and say, “I am frustrated!” and you will say, “How can I help you?”  When they say, “Give me the toy,” you can model some negotiating (“Let’s set a timer and when it dings, it is your turn” or “Let’s dance to music instead of playing with toys” or “Let’s each get a toy we both like and trade every 5 minutes” and so on).

The day of the playdate have them tell you every time they make this work, and reward them!  If this doesn’t help, let me know and we will take the solution a step further.

Mary Quinn is a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She is also a wife of 31 years, a mother of three, a step-mother of two, a grandmother of seven, a passionate gardener, and a writer. She has a Ph.D., survived a childhood with five brothers, and always wears red toenail polish.

Thanks Dr. Mom! Readers: what do you do when a playdate goes bad?


16 Responses to “Dr. Mom Mondays: When Playdates Go Bad”

  1. Kimberly March 14, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    First of all, this is an amazing idea!!
    Secondly…how adorable is your mom?
    And finally, love this advice. Even though my son is only 2, I want to help foster good communication between him and other playmates.

    • The Little Hen House March 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      I am totally going to do this next time our play date comes over. I learned a long time ago to just do whatever my mom tells me to. 🙂

  2. lori March 14, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Love this talk it out solution
    great idea….

  3. julie gardner March 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Great idea here ~ why not tap into the resource on your doorstep?

    Moms are awesome.

    Your mother is no exception.

    Great post.

  4. Yuliya March 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Please let your adorable mom know that I am available for adoption. That is all.

  5. Kindred Adventures March 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Neat idea. I will look forward to future Monday’s!

    It is always tricky when it is not your child, but it is your house. I loved her suggestions. She had a calming way about her that came through in her words. Her suggestions was well expressed and easy to understand.

    How great you must feel to have such a neat mom!


  6. Mama Mary March 15, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    Great tips! It is so important, I have found, to address these types of situations before a situation arises, just as your mom says. When I preempt a situation with my girls, my reaction and their reaction is so much better. Fun to have your mom be a part of your site! : )

    • The Little Hen House March 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      I’m totally going to try it. I’m glad the preempting works for you. I hope it does for me too!

  7. Tonya March 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Great advice…

    …and go, Morgan’s mom!! How awesome that’s she’s going to be hanging out here each Monday.

    I’m sure I’ll have some questions soon.

    I love red nail polish and the photo of her with your chickens is priceless.

  8. alishayarbrough March 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    what a great series!!! dr. mom is radiant, even while rangling a chicken.

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