Mom Confessions: I Let My Toddler Climb Play Equipment Unassisted


mom confessionsIt's time for a Mom Confession -- because, let's face it, we're real mothers and sometimes it doesn't work the way the parenting books say it should.

This Week's Confession:

When we go to the park or playground, I don't hover over my toddlers. I sit on the bench and watch. If they want to climb up the slide, I let them. I loved climbing up slides when I was little. It was challenging and fun -- and my mother never shadowed me to prevent a fall or little mishaps. This is how children learn -- by making mistakes.

And if my kid is arguing with another on the playground (or anywhere), I usually don't get involved unless one of them is going to get hurt. They need to learn to work out their own problems. -- anonymous



Is it irresponsible parenting to let young toddlers, say 2 or 3 years old, climb unassisted on playground equipment?

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Do today's parents go overboard in trying to protect their children from every little bump, scratch, and boo-boo? Should we give our kids more freedom to make mistakes and learn from them?

We all have secrets and opinions -- so thanks to this brave mom for sharing her honest thoughts, and thank you for keeping this conversation non-judgemental!

Past Confessions:

My Kids Go to Sleep After Midnight

I Let My Toddlers Go Naked in Public

I Throw Away My Kid's Artwork

I Paid $22 for My Son's Haircut

My Toddlers Eat Pizza for Breakfast

I'm Dying My Toddler's Hair

I Leave My Toddler Alone in the Bath

Our Children Aren't Invited to Our Wedding

I Scold Other People's Kids

I'm on Vacation, But My Kid Is Still Going to Day Care

I Favor My Older Child

I Let My Toddler Eat Food Before Paying for It

I Find Excuses to Send My Kids to Bed Early



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ggad ggad

I completely hate whiny overly dependent children. They bug me.

My kids are VERY well behaved and VERY independent. I am very secure in my belief that my four year old, if ever in an emergency situation, would handle herself perfectly. How? Becasue I have taught her how to problem solve herself instead of always needing to rely on someone else.

This said, children become independent and self-sufficient by mom allowing them to explore/learn/discover. As parents, we should guide, but never hover.

Princ... PrincessZ20

Just because I let my son play while I sit on the bench DOES NOT mean he's "unsupervised" and "running wild".  I can watch him just fine from my vantage point, and step in if he needs assistance or if a conflict arises. 

If he's being mean to another child, of course I'll intervene and get him to behave/put him in time out/remove him from the situation.  I believe he needs to learn to solve problems on his own and that he needs to learn what he can and can't do on his own, and he can't do that if I'm hovering around him all the time. 

So yes, assuming the equiment is safe (and really, why would I take him to a playground he can't really play on?), I have no problem letting him play by himself while I watch from a bench.

Lovep... Loveplusmama

Yup, depends on the equipment and how many kids are there. Two parks we frequent have lots of equipment geared to different ages. when it's crowded, I keep my guy on the stuff meant for him and usually let him roam freely.  I really wish parents of older children would keep them on the equipment made for them. The big kids don't want little kids on their equipment (and it's not safe) so stay off the little kids stuff!

TKsMo... TKsMommie

I stand near the equipment but let her explore.  She is also used to playing with her brother, so she doesn't always remember to play nice on her own.

But as for climbing up the slides, I don't allow my kids to do it, not solely because they could fall but because I feel it is rude and not a behavior I like to encourage.  It is not meant to be climbed, but to be slid down and if one kid is climbing it, noone else can use it!  Plus if another kid slides down while they are climbing both kids could be badly injured.

mmmom... mmmommy0207

Its all at the parents discretion. Any good parent can weigh the situation and the risks. I, too, hate to hover over my kids. Sure, they've got boo-boos, and bruises, but that's how kids are supposed to learn/play. My DD, when she was 5, did a faceplant in the sand cuz she was goofing on the swing. I ran over to check it out, but she just stood up, spit some sand out, and went back to playing.

Tnamari Tnamari

I was amazed (and scared) when my child who was a couple months shy of being 2 started to climb the ladder in our play area. So I made sure I was always close by ...well able to see him anyhow...and he did fine. He was 3 when he fell going up the ladder and busted his lip(2 stitches) and i was LITERALLY 2 FEET away!! So it is going to happen. I don't hover in our play area...but I might hover just a little in unfamiliar territory.

mama_... mama_moonsong

there is a happy medium here. my POV is this- my girl is 2 1/2. when we go to the playground, i do watch her closely. but i don't hover over her. if i don't let her fall or slip or have a little playground scuffle, she'll grow up in a bubble! and she won't know what to do when she eventually goes to school and these things happen, and i'm not around.

sunsh... sunshine06

Let them be kids!  You can't be there every minute of their lives and they need to know that and get used to it.  Plus how much fun would my kids really have if I was there holding their hand?  How are they going to run and jump and play attached to me?  I have a 2 and a 3 year old.  I let them out of the van and let them go wild.  If it's our first time at a new playground I will stand next to the playset just to make sure they get the hang of the new stuff.  But after a few minutes Im on the bench taking pictures.  Even if we go to the huge playground here in town I just keep them in sight and stay a safe distance behind them.  No need to stand on top of them.

trebe... trebelcleff

I put it depends... our playground is very small, but there are some upper level sections that do not have a safety bar and he is a very rambunctious and likes to explore... he's tried jumping off before (luckily I was right there and caught him before he made the leap of faith), so if he is interested in exploring the higher territory, I stand on the ground on the unsafe side... I can easily access the opposite side by going under quickly too. I have RARELY climbed up on the equipment with him, and he's pretty content with the lower levels usually. He will also ask for help when he feels he needs it. So in most cases, I think it's better to let them explore and learn on their own (especially since the lower levels would not cause great harm if falling from them), but in potential dangerous situations, I will certainly be in the direct vicinity.

Jason... JasonsMom2007

It depends on the situation.  I typically take 2 toddlers to the park.  Mine is 21 months old and the LO I watch is 18 months old.  They both know the equipment very well.  I cannot be right with both of them all of the time.  Although there are some tall areas I just have to stand kind of in the middle and keep an eye on both of them without hovering.  If there are too many older children there we will leave.  If one is swinging both have to be swinging because I cannot leave the one in the swing to grab the other one quickly. 

I do agree that they need to learn to resolve their own conficts so I do not step in as long as it looks like something productive is coming from the battle!

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