Do you love taking your kids to the playground? Do they love playing and meeting friends there? Not being able to enjoy your community's recreational resources due to the lack of proper etiquette can be a bummer; not only for our kids but also for the parents.
This blog posts is catered to playground etiquette and how being more respectful of this community resource can create a safe and more inclusive environment for everyone.
Let's start with the importance of playgrounds. I think by this point we have heard and read about the importance of spending time outdoors with our kids. We understand the benefits of playing outside and how important it is for kids to socialize with other kids their age. Playgrounds facilitate this by creating a mostly free outdoor space for families to enjoy. From swings, to slides and nowadays more inclusive playground equipment that caters to children of different capabilities...playgrounds should be a place that harbors safety and friendship.
But, how many times as a parent have you seen your local playground destroyed and unkept with kids using the playground equipment inappropiately? I have seen it plenty of times and in many ocassions it has made us not come back.
How can this experience be better for everyone?
Let's start with playground rules! Let's all be more respectful. Show kindness and respect always. Not only towards other kids but also the playground itself. Taking care of equipment and using it properly without damaging the playground is huge and can keep the playground in great condition for others to enjoy. Most of the time having an adult around can help kids from destroying the playground. Be present when your kids are at the playground, pay attention to what they are doing, do not leave them unattended. Explain to them the importance of taking care of the equipment. Follow playground rules! Mostly all of the playgrounds we have been to have rules. Not only are the playground rules usually posted close by but also playground equipment manufacturers tend to post their own equipment rules on the actual structures. Most playgrounds rules are about age limits, no dogs allowed, being with an adult and of course those temperature checks in case the slide is too hot. These rules are in plain sight.
Well, what about etiquette? Is that the same as following the rules? No, etiquette is different from the rules. For example Sharing. Learning to share and take turns is a way to show playground etiquette. Many times kids can't enjoy a swing or slide because other kids simply will not share. This is a huge lifeskill that is very important to learn and what better way than to learn at the playground. Encourage your children to wait patiently for their turn or to not take too long if someone is waiting. Sometimes it can be something as simple as not going up a slide; this one is seeing too often causing kids to get injured. Sharing can also be tough because some parents might think that their kids don't need to share if they don't want to but when you are at a public space it is not your property to share. This goes along with bringing toys to the playground, if your child does not want to share their toys that is ok since it is their toy however there are parents who do not mind having their kid share the toys they bring with others. Another etiquette tip is to never give food to another child at the playground without the parent's consent. If your kid is eating a snack and wants to share please ask the parent before you hand food to another child. You never know if they are allowed to eat certain things or have allergies. An etiquette rule that might be tricky is when to intervene at the playground. You are the adult and at times you will need to keep someone from harm's way. Any inappropiate behavior, physical contact and risk of injury should immediately be intervened for. Create an inclusive environment, do not allow others to feel left out. This is terrible and unfortunately I have seen many parents act this way. Allow your children to meet others without judgement. If certain situations need to be explained, use kind words and look out for everyone's feelings.
As parents, we are our children's first teachers. We teach them in and outside our home to be the best tiny humans they can be. We teach them to be kind and stay safe and this should not be forgotten while at the playground.
I hope you found this helpful and that you are able to enjoy the many playgrounds you community offers!