Playground Rules (For Parents)

Kid A plays with a toy car. Kid B sees the car and decides she wants to play with it. She walks up to Kid A and takes the car. Kid A looks at his empty hand, processes the event and reacts with displeasure. Kid B’s dad sees what happened and springs into action. He explains to his daughter that Kid A is playing with the car and returns it. The situation is rectified and Kid B waits for her turn with the toy. This happens all the time. Kids take toys that they want because they believe it belongs to them. The parent or guardian’s role in this situation is crucial. The action taken by Kid B’s dad seems obvious, but what happens if Kid B’s dad didn’t see what happened? What is Kid A’s parent supposed to do? Should Kid A take the car back? There are a lot of grey areas when it comes parenting 1. Some of these grey areas can be brought to light with a set of playground rules parents can follow when they’re with their kids in playgrounds or attending playgroups. A set of playground rules for parents can be set in place to avoid conflict, misunderstandings and tantrums. Here are some humble suggestions. Feel free to comment and add playground rules of your own:

Rule I. Teach how to take turns and be patient.

There is no playground rule more obvious, more important to follow or more difficult to enforce. As much as you may want to indulge your little one (Hello Grandmother who wants to give your granddaughter everything all the time right away.) you have to consider the other kids. Please don’t use your size and perceived authority to finagle a toy from another child so that your precious one gets their turn earlier.

Rule II. Police Your Kid’s Behaviour

“Police” sounds like a harsh term, but it feels that way sometimes. Kids can become overzealous when it comes to new toys and activities.  Kids get excited. That’s expected. It’s the parent’s job to calm them down to make sure they’re not harming anyone while they careen past children in their push car.

You police your kid’s behaviour and I’ll police mine.

Rule III. Don’t Police Other Kid’s Behaviour

Rule III is a spin-off from Rule II. You may believe that you’re the greatest parent since Danny Tanner, and you may be, but that doesn’t mean you can go around regulating other kids’ behaviours. Leave that to their parents.

Please please please do not touch other kids to move them away or guide them away from toys that your kid wants to play with 2.

Rule IV: Pay Attention to Your Kid

Don’t make other people regulate your kid’s behaviour. If a kid is completely out of control, other parents will step in. They won’t be happy about it and neither will you. But what are they supposed to do if your kid is stomping around grabbing toys that aren’t theirs while you check your latest  Instagram likes?

You may view the playgroup time as break time, and that’s fine, but pick your spots. Don’t do anything that consumes your attention to the point that you can’t sneak a peek at your kid. Stay on your toes and pay attention. You don’t know when you might have to spring into action.

Rule V. Make Friendly Conversation with Other Parents

How old is she? He has cool shoes. Look, I haven’t had a conversation with an adult all day – just tell me where you got that, “Daddy’s Little Genius,” shirt and I’ll leave you alone. Other parents don’t bite 3. It wouldn’t kill you to make a little small talk 4.

Rule VI. Don’t judge. Everyone has a bad day.

Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. We can’t all shoot 100% from the field. Everyone has bad days. Empathise with your fellow brother or sister in arms as their child unleashes a nuclear-sized tantrum. Share a kind word – it won’t be long before you’re in the same situation.

If you have any suggestions for playground rules for parents, please share!

  1. A LOT. A lot a lot.
  2. Another shout out to the overzealous grandparents out there.
  3. Some are weirdo anti-vaxxers, but even they don’t bite.
  4. Or maybe it’s me and I need to work on my icebreakers.

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1 Comment

  1. Troy says

    These are good points for not only playground behaviour but drop-in centres as well.

    Keeping a close eye on your child is key in this, seeing which toys they have.

    One rule we try to instill is encouraging them to play with a certain toy for a length of time than playing with something else. It doesn’t always go smoothly but ensures that no other kids believe they are “hogging” that particular toy.

    Most parents are pretty good at returning toys if they see their child take a toy, not always but most of the time.

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