Monday, June 1, 2009

playground rules

so, i’m pretty laid back when it comes to the way my children play. i figure if they aren’t hurting themselves, others, or property, it’s all good. i want them to be polite and friendly to other children and adults they encounter. that said, i’m wondering what the general consensus is about playground structures. i’m always hearing moms and dads reminding their kids not to climb up the slides. “you have to go up the stairs, then you can go down the slide.” i probably wouldn’t think much of it, other than that the parents were a little OCD about ‘rules’ or something, except that i’m usually hearing this little lecture while MY kids are scaling all the slides they can find.

i’ve never really thought this was a big deal. kids naturally try to climb up the slide. it’s a pretty universal thing. (kind of like the ever-present hot lava monster!) i used to work at a preschool that had rules about climbing up slides. YOU MUST ONLY SLIDE DOWN THE SLIDE; ONE AT A TIME; ON YOUR BOTTOM; WITH YOUR FEET STRAIGHT OUT IN FRONT OF YOU. that was the only way you were allowed to use the slide. and they were very anal about enforcing this rule. now i can certainly understand why, when there are a couple dozen 3 and 4 year olds on a playground at the same time, this would be a good idea. but it drove me nuts to enforce it. here would be kids, playing on practically the same plastic play structure they have in their backyard at home, being told, “no suzy, we can’t climb up the slide, we only slide down.” and they look at you like you’re insane for correcting them because WE most definitely use the slide any old way we feel like.

so, with that in mind, i’ve always pretty much allowed my children to challenge themselves however they can at the playground. i try to make sure they’re safe and not getting in anyone’s way. i make them move and wait their turn if someone is wanting to slide down. i guess i figure if you’re going down the slide, you sort of have the right of way. but i wonder if the other parents, the ones who don’t allow their children to climb up the slides, think i’m one of those wacked out parents who lets her kids do whatever they want.

so what do you think? what kind of playground parent are you? are you like me? why?  are you an “only slide down” parent? if so, why? and what do you think about kids who are allowed to climb up?  is there some sort of universal rule about how communal play structures should be used?


  1. I let me kids climb up if there isn't kids trying to come down...if there is a huge line of children wanting to slide there is nothing more annoying than that one child trying to climb up the slide making everyone in that line above wait for them. BUT if the playground is semi-empty and nobody is waiting for the slide they can climb up ALL they want. I think as long as you follow the common sense rules your good.

  2. I agree. If there are no other kids around I let mine go up. I get really annoyed when my kid is trying to go down and there are kids trying to come up it. I am all for free play and all but the slide, in my opinion, is designed to allow children to go down it and if there are kids trying to go down mine have to as well. I have seen teeth go through the lip when someone started going up when there was already a kid on the way down. Stitches in the lip are NOT pretty and painful. I guess it's more of a safety thing.

  3. I'm with them. It all depends on how crowded the playground. And honestly, I don't bother with any playground if there are too many kids anyway. Small groups are more fun.

  4. I guess I had never really thought about it too much before. I had just not let H climb up the slide because I'd figure she'd stumble - forward or backward - and bust open her chin. And, I've seen some kids run pretty fast up a slide, lose their balance when it get's steep, and fall OVER the side..... that said, I never thought badly of parents who let their kids climb up the slide, just as long as their kids took their appropriate turns and didn't take longer than a kid taking their turn going down it. I appreciate your mention of 'letting your kids challenge themselves' though, it helps me to think H should be encouraged to try things out and learn how/if they work in more areas than I probably let her :)



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