10 Things Never to Do at the Playground

Judy Dutton | Aug 8, 2014 Big Kid

At first glance, playgrounds may look like idyllic places where everyone is smiling, happy, and having fun... parents, however, know better. Every grabbed shovel at the sandbox, every child breathing down another one's neck for a turn on the swing has the potential to turn ugly -- and parents are just as prone as their kids to end up in tense altercations or tussles.

To help you navigate this treacherous terrain and not get sucked into petty playground battles left and right, here's a little advice on what NOT to do at the local park.

What behavior annoys you at the playground? Would you ever do #8?

Mom rules for the playground

Images via Brittany Randolph/Flickr; © iStock.com/rinajodk

  • Hog the swing


    Image ©iStock.com/cveltri

    If there's a line for the swing, nothing's worse than a kid who refuses to get off ... and a parent who keeps on pushing because, well, little Asher is having so much fun, wheee!

    How would you feel if Asher were the one waiting in line? Put yourself in the other kid's shoes and keep your swinging time brief. You can always get back in line for another turn later.

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  • Grab your child's toys back from other kids


    Image ©iStock.com/bazyuk

    If some kid wanders over and grabs Johnny's favorite dump truck, don't just go grab it back. That makes you no better mannered than the kid who started it! Rather than sink to their level, be a grownup about it, for heaven's sake: ask the child to return the toy or coach him to ask for permission to play together.

  • Let your toddler play on the big-kid equipment


    Image ©iStock.com/asiseeit

    If that treacherous jungle gym is labeled "ages 6 to 12," your 2-year-old shouldn't be on it -- or, if he is, don't get all bent out of shape when the older kids clamber around him quickly.

    Remember, this is their turf, and while it's cute your little tyke has such high aspirations, he's out of his depths, so don't expect anyone to tiptoe around him.

  • Bury yourself in your cellphone


    Image © Michael Pole/Corbis

    You've seen her, perhaps even been her: the mom who stares nonstop at her phone, texting or talking loudly with friends. But remember, your kids aren't just there to play by themselves or with each other. They want to play with YOU, and these are the fun memories you'll both remember once they're grown.

    At the very least, if you hear your kid crying, don't say, "You're okay, honey!" BEFORE you look up from your phone. Honestly, how would you know?

  • Let your kid wander in front of the swings


    Image ©iStock.com/CEFutcher

    Swings don't have brakes, remember? So don't expect kids swinging high to stop if your little one wanders in front of them. All that'll happen is your kid will get walloped, and the other kid will feel horrible ... and, um, all of this could have been avoided if you'd kept your child in closer range.

  • Hover near your kids in case they fall


    Image ©iStock.com/asiseeit

    It's a sad, sad day when a kid can't climb a jungle gym without mom helicoptering around him like an on-call rescue squad. Kids fall in playgrounds; it's not the end of the world. Give your kids space before you give them a complex.

  • Brag about your kids


    Image ©iStock.com/nicolesy

    Your child is amazing at climbing, swinging, building sand castles, blowing bubbles ... you're proud! We get it! But you never know what developmental challenges other parents are dealing with, so save your brag-athons for the grandparents.

  • Sit in your car while your kids play in the park


    Image © SIE Productions/Corbis

    This is so lame, need we explain? Get in the great outdoors with your kid for a bit. You might like it.

  • Jump in and solve every playground argument


    Image © Westend61/Corbis

    If things get tense between two kids, that doesn't mean you have to swoop in immediately to save the day. Children need to negotiate these moments themselves, sans referees. Although you should, of course, intervene if the altercation turns physical; keep our next point in mind if that happens.

  • Discipline another parent's child


    Image © Monalyn Gracia/Corbis

    Did some brat throw sand in your child's face? Sure it's tempting to give that bully a dose of his own medicine, but that's unfortunately not your call. You are, however, allowed to give that kid's parents a piece of your mind, so hopefully he'll get what's coming to him. But that's for the other parent to decide -- not you.


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