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When Push Comes To Shove

Playground Etiquette 101

After what seemed like the longest winter ever, kids are stampeding the playgrounds to blow some steam. We asked social skills expert Faye Rogaski to explain the basics of playground etiquette. As the founder of socialsklz, Rogaski  teaches children’s etiquette classes and certainly knows her Pleases and Thank Yous.
Keep it under ten minutes. No matter the equipment (swing, slide, monkey bars), it’s customary to let your child have a maximum of 10 minutes before moving on to give someone else a turn.
Take responsibility for your kid’s behavior. Correct your child if he or she is misbehaving, yelling, or crying. If a problem escalates and you sense that hitting or biting isn’t far behind, then step in. If an older child is bothering a tot, step in. The playground is a privilege and if kids can’t play nicely then they must go home.

Steer kids towards age-appropriate equipment. It’s okay for older kids to spend a minimal amount of time on toddler stuff if there is room. Of course, they can’t be bullies about it. But as a parent, you should step in and encourage older children to move on to make room for the younger ones. The same thing goes for parents bringing small tots on older children’s equipment: when space allows, one or two times is fine, but then move on. 

Keep shoes on in the sandbox. You can imagine what gets dragged into the sand from the bottoms of other kids’ shoes.

Save the ball games for fields and courts. Playing with a soft, bouncy ball in the open central area of a playground is okay, but anything aggressive or with a hard ball is inappropriate. Also, make sure your children aren’t blocking the normal flow of traffic through the playground.  

Let them scribble. Washable chalk is fine for the concrete or pavement inside a playground. After all, it’s a playground and there aren’t many places for city kids to doodle. At the same time you should point out that while it’s fine for the playground, it’s not okay in front of a store or someone’s home without permission. 

Confront slackers. If you see a parent or caregiver neglecting a child who is causing trouble, say something. Out-of-control behavior at the playground is not okay.

Keep food off the equipment. Spoon-feeding babies on the swings is messy, not to mention dangerous. Always feed babies and toddlers in strollers or on benches, in an effort to keep equipment free of sticky goo and slobber. Wipe tots’ hands clean, and show them how to put their trash in the bin.

Teach your toddler to wait his turn. Tots need to learn the lesson that just because they’re youngest doesn’t meant they go first. So get your child in line with the big kids, too.

Do not permit slide climbing. Walking up the slide is rude and dangerous. Be sure to teach your child the importance of getting off the slide as soon as he or she gets to the bottom, as to not hold up the line.