photo by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

4 Rules of Playground Etiquette

September 2015

Have you ever noticed that Band-Aid in the drinking fountain at the local playground? What about that one kid hiding under the slide, piling rocks up at the opening? We’ve all experienced either or both of these situations, or something even worse while visiting a playground or kid-friendly zone. Let me start by recognizing: kids have bad days, just like we do as adults; so parents, it’s alright if your children are human. However, there’s a few things you can try the next time your family ventures out to ensure everyone has a great time.

4 Rules of Playground Etiquette:

First, identify the rules of the facility or playground. Most will have them posted for parents to read, and you should read them aloud to your children. You’ll also want to facilitate play for your tiny tykes by encouraging them to share equipment and play well with the other kids. Cooperative play is what you’re aiming for, where all the children can play fair and accomplish common goals. Sometimes, it takes a little creative play with their parents for a young child to warm up to the facility, the staff and the fellow kids. I encourage you to always use the equipment appropriately and demonstrate safety, as you don’t want them to pick up any dangerous habits.

Second, think the time spent at the playground is a mental break for you? Not exactly, you still need to be alert, attentive, and focused on where your child is and what they are doing at all times. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy yourself, by all means, swing on that swing, give yourself a breather! Parents just need to understand, kid-friendly zones and playgrounds are not always as safe or monitored as frequently as we expect, and you still have to keep your radar on.

Third, if you enjoy coming to the facility, please pick up after yourselves! If trashcans are full, tell someone about it. Never make an excuse for leaving behind garbage, because eventually, all the visiting families will have an excuse and your favorite kid-friendly spot will become trashed.

Along the same lines, respect the facility’s equipment. If it breaks, let someone know. If it’s not working properly, get some help. If the facility is staffed, they might not be focused on how the equipment is functioning and if it is un-staffed, like at the playground, make it a point to get in touch with the property owner and let them know what’s up. If you don’t report any broken pieces, then you can’t complain when it doesn’t get fixed.

Finally, recognize that others are visiting the same playground or kid-friendly zone for many of the same reasons you are and they may not want to be interrupted. Unless invited, keep your distance from their “home” base camp around the perimeter of the playground. If your child starts to misbehave or has a meltdown, don’t create an audience while you work with your child; get yourselves some space. Consider other parents your teammates, they are also there with their radar on, supervising what is happening and protecting the children on the equipment. Respect their presence and cooperate with one another.