Most kids love having a friend over to play. It's a great chance for the child to practice their social skills and to just have fun. But is it fun for your child's brother or sister? Linda Morgan, editor of Parentmap and author of the book, Beyond Smart, shares how to keep the peace during play dates.

Why do siblings get into arguments over playdates?

When friends come to visit, even the siblings who normally get along pretty well can go at it with each other. Generally, he child hosting the friend wants some alone time his pal. The sibling without the friend can feel lonely, threatened and just plain jealous. Typically, that sibling is the younger one.

Should parents force their kids to include their brother or sister in the playdate?

Forcing one child to include a left-out sibling in their play can strain sibling relationships. The child who pressured to include a brother or sister in a playdate may feel resentful and angry, and direct those feelings his sibling.

Should parents get involved?

Don't micromanage the playdate. And don't always insist on everyone playing together. All kids deserve some one-on-one time with their own friends. Sit down together and ask them, 'How can we make this playdate fun for everyone?'" And talk to them about kindness and about being inclusive.

What can parents do to keep playdates peaceful?

Plan ahead
Have a discussion with your kids a few days in advance. Ask everyone to come up with ways to make the playdate fun for everyone. Talk about what might work and what might not work – and discuss each child's concern.
Keep the siblings busy
Use this as an opportunity to put a photo book together with your younger child – or bake a pie or work on a special art project. This is a chance for some valuable one-on-one time with your child.
Look for group activities
Find activities that everyone can enjoy. Great examples are bowling, ice skating, swimming, and even electronic systems like the Wii that allow kids of different ages and skill levels to participate side by side.
Make it a two-playdate day
Invite a friend for your younger child. The whole gang may actually choose to play together part of the time.

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