Whatever the dynamics at school or on the playground, sometimes the nicest kids turn into whole new people when they come over to your house. Here’s a handy cheat sheet of the eight types of kids who show up for playdates and what to do about them:
Dumpers: Named by my friend Sachiyo, these kids love to take a container and dump. Pick up container, empty container, move on. Repeat. You thought your love of buckets and baskets meant your house was organized, but you didn’t realize all those plastic containers are like magnets to these kids. You have to decide if you want to deal with the hassle of making everyone pick up as they go or just mumble to yourself as you dig LEGOs out of the carpet once they’re gone.
Foragers: These shorties don’t just ask for snacks. Instead, they wander into the kitchen and start hunting and gathering. When my fridge starts beeping, I notice the door’s been open for a while. Then I see some kid standing halfway inside, snacking on grapes and looking for something sweet. Pantry, cookie jar, a pie cooling in the window — nothing’s safe when you’ve got foragers in the house.
Boasters: In my day, we’d boast that our dad could beat up your dad. Today’s kids might be bragging about a new gadget, vacation spot, or even getting to stay up late. Take it all with a grain of salt, and teach that to your own child once the boaster has gone home for the day. Once a boaster starts, the stakes keep getting raised and all the kids involved can get a little braggy. Make sure your kid doesn’t pick up any Boasterific habits.
Leaders: It may be your house, but these kids are in charge. “You be the servant and I’ll be the queen.” Maybe you make your child let the guest choose what to do, but these kids know it and take advantage, pushing everyone around. When it starts to get ridiculous — for example, if you hear “I’m going to cut your hair” from the other room — you might want to step in.
Criers: She’s tired. He’s hungry. Maybe the playdate is going on too long. Maybe mom comes sooner than he hoped. No matter what happens, this kid starts oozing from the eyes in a span of seconds. You try to comfort, but when there’s no actual problem, the weeping gets old pretty fast.
Hangers-On: Planning to get some bills paid while Junior has a friend over? Silly you. If you’ve got a HO at your house, enjoy being followed from room to room. This kid never offers to help, but wants to be your special friend. Even better if you get one who wants to talk and get some adult conversation in while your own child wonders what’s going on.
Shriekers: Once you’ve had a shrieking kid in your house, every other playdate will be outside at a park. These friends have voices that jump octaves and bring on a migraine within minutes. Doesn’t matter if they’re happy, scared, or anything in between. Those sounds will make your dog run away and have you counting down the minutes.
Imaginers: Break out the costume box and let them go wild. These are the kids with vivid interior lives — the ones who might get a bit distracted daydreaming at school. They get very into whatever they’re playing — watch out if someone says she’s a shark or you might get bit. With just a little encouragement and plenty of space, imaginers can spend hours making their own fun. Probably the best kind of kid that could come over, even if you risk being bitten.
This post originally appeared on Ravishly.