Boost your child’s social skills and arrange a play date at one of these child-friendly spots
“The alarming rise in ‘digiculture’ has taken over the lives of little ones.”
Dr Sarah Rasmi, family psychologist and parenting expert at social app Play:Date, may be reiterating what many parents already know, but are you aware how much technology can affect your youngsters’ social skills?
Ease of access to content like games and videos means children as young as two years old may become caught up in the digital world and forget to just be a kid.
While some types of technology can be beneficial as learning tools, Dr Sarah stresses the importance of arranging play dates for your children. Interaction between your child and others can promote psychological wellbeing, improve physical health, boost social skills and even help parents make valuable connections.
“Play dates can lead to friendships, which are good for our psychological health. Research shows that people with extensive social networks tend to be happier,” Dr Sarah says.
“People with strong social bonds tend to have better immune systems and live longer, too.
“Play dates facilitate social development by teaching children how to share, cooperate with others and problem-solve.
“Play dates are an opportunity for parents to connect with other parents,” she continues. “This has a number of benefits, including a sense of community and social support. Both of these factors can make it easier for parents to adjust to life changes, including having children and moving to the UAE.”
Groups like Abu Dhabi Mums and Expat Woman as well as sites such as Facebook and Meetup.com are great ways to find parents with similar aged children who are also looking to arrange a date. Once you’ve met your match, head to one of these great play date spaces.
Trampoline park Bounce is the ultimate indoor playground and a great place for little ones to run rampant in a safe environment. There’s a miniBOUNCE structured programme for younger ones, and cafes in the vicinity for parents. AED 70 for juniors aged three to five years, AED 80 for over five years. Marina Mall, Ras Al Akhdar. Opening times vary for children. Contact: 04 321 1400, bounce.ae/abudhabi
If your children are brave and active, then let them loose in the Adventure Zone on the second floor of this adventure hub. They can scale new heights on the rock wall, race up swinging tyre ladders, crawl through caves, encourage each other along the cable climb course and zoom along the zipline, all under the safety of expert instructors. Each activity is 30 minutes. From AED 65 for one activity to AED 250 for day of unlimited activities. Yas Mall, Yas Island. Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Contact: 02 565 0996, adventurezone.ae
Are your little ones artistically inclined? Then take them to this colourful and creative arts and crafts centre where they can choose an activity like mask decorating, digital graffiti and T-shirt painting to do together. Activity prices vary. Inside Wanasa Land, Al Wahda Mall, Hazza Bin Zayed Street. Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Contact: 02 671 1269, kidzfactory-uae.com
This indoor play area focuses on entertaining kids with enriching activities while parents chill in the lounge with a snack knowing their tots are socialising in a fun and imaginative environment. There’s a baby ball pit, reading corner, arts and crafts room, kids’ photobooth and more. From AED 40 per hour on weekdays, AED 50 on weekends. Garden Plaza, Al Raha Gardens, Khalifa City. Sun-Wed 7.30am-9pm, Thu-Sat 9am-10pm. Contact: 02 676 0605, happynestplayhouse.ae
Little World Discovery Centre
One of the most exciting hubs for kids is packed with zones from a playground and theatre to a kinetic section and an innovation station. There’s also an in-house café so parents can enjoy a light meal or brew while the little ones explore to their heart’s content. Nation Galleria, Nation Towers, Corniche West. Contact: 02 681 8824, littleworlduae.com
Many restaurants and cafes in Abu Dhabi are child-friendly so while the parents enjoy a cup of joe and a chinwag, you can relax knowing the children are playing in a safe environment. Café Mandarina at Mandara Equestrian Club and The Sportsman’s Arms at Zayed Sports City have outdoor play areas, while The Living Room Café in Khalidiya Village Compound and Jim’s Kitchen Table in Masdar have a sectioned off indoor area with toys.