Before you had children, you undoubtedly walked past your local playground and smiled wistfully at the children at play. Happy shouts, laughter, and an abundance of playful energy abounded in front of you. What you didn’t realize was that when you eventually entered that playground as a parent of a young child, there might be a few unspoken rules. As a parent, it’s your job to help your children understand what’s OK and what’s not OK at the playground, and to intervene when your child is throwing a wrench in all that fun.
- Throwing sand is not OK. Little fingers are learning to experience the world for the first time. Sand, being such a unique tactile experience, is enticing to them. And throwing sand? Watching it fly in every direction, freely? That’s a toddler’s dream. But sand can get in your child’s eyes, and in other children’s eyes, and it’s not OK. Gently show your child how to rake the sand, build with it, or run it through their fingers back into the sandbox.
- Boy, do kids love to climb backwards up the slide. When supervised, and when no one else is using the play structure, climbing up the slide is perfectly fine. But when there are other kids waiting at the top of the slide, wanting to come down, ask your child to refrain from climbing up, so that other kids can have their turn.
- No hitting, no bitting, no pinching. Many toddlers go through a phase when they begin to hit the people around them. Sometimes they do it out of frustration, or a lack of an ability to communicate. At home, parents have a variety of countermeasures to prevent and stop hitting. On the playground, only one countermeasure is OK, and that is to remove your child from a situation in which she is hurting other kids. Speak with your daycare or preschool provider if this behavior seems to become problematic, or is not going away in time. Your child’s teachers may be able to collaborate with you on ways to curb this type of activity.
- Remember to apologize. It’s easy for you to apologize for your child before whisking him away during a conflict with another kid. But prompt your child to apologize for his behavior as well. You may have to remove him from a situation, allow him to calm down, and then ask him to return with an apology.
- Teach bigger kids to be careful with little ones. We’ve seen countless toddlers run happily around a playground, only to be run into by a much bigger kid at high speed, or pushed out of the way on a play structure by a child a foot taller than them. If you have big kids at home, teach them to be careful and kind to little kids on the playground.
Have you been a witness to any playground misbehavior? What are your pet peeves on the jungle gym? Let us know in the comments section!