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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mirinda mirinda

It depends on the skill level of the child, the type of equipment being used, the type of turf under the equipment, and the number and ages of other children on the structure.

My older son was 2-3 years old (he's 10 now) he had two left feet and walked around with his head somewhere in outer space.  He would trip on his own feet on the second rung of the slide ladder, lose his footing altogher and smack his face off the bar before landing in a heap on the ground. *ya got me*   He'd be off in his own world and walk in front of the swings....Garrett required a lot more hovering from mom when he was little.

Damian, on the other hand, is so coordinated it's scary!  He was my early walker; full-bore running by 11 months.  Ladders, poles, swings, tires, jungle gyms; he scrambles up and down them like a little monkey and if I get in the way he gets mad!  He's 5 now, busy riding bikes w/out "sissy wheels" (what he calls training wheels), climbing trees, and playing on the big kids equipment with absolutely no trouble!

It's up to the parent to know their child and to make the decision as to what they are ready to do and when; age doesn't have much to do with it.

GageW... GageWsMom

I think it depends. Only you know what your child is capable of. My son may be great with coordination, but not with sharing, therefore I maybe let him do more on his own with the equipment, but play a bigger role to avoid him hitting someone else's child. Alternatively, if my son stinks at keepinghis balance, it isnt worth his arm (or worse) for me to try to make him do it by himself.

babyb... babyboomboom

 I agree with everything this mom said:


I actually HATE seeing parents sitting on benches allowing their 2-3 year olds run off and do whatever they want. You can still allow a child to explore, test their boundries, while being close enough to be there if they do get seriously hurt ir if that child get's violent. I get seriously aggrivated at those parents who do NOT control their children. My daughter wanted to play with a little girl at a park once, who was a little older than my daughter (my daughter was 18 months at the time). This little girl shoved her off of one of the platforms. She only fell a few inches but screamed and cried and the parent did NOTHING. Later on the little girl came to both my daughter, who slapt her. In my head I said "good she deserved it"... but I went to my daughter and told her that you do NOT hit, no matter what. etc. *I* take responsibility for my child at a park, I do not allow them to run around like a maniac and sit lazely on a bench.

My daughter runs around, and gets to enjoy the park. I am just closer to her. I still want to teach her how to share/take turns, so I am nearby to encourage these good behaviors. I do allow her to climb up the slides but need to remind her to move if someone wants to come down because it is, after all, a slide not a jungle gym.

celticreverie Apr. 3, 2009 at 8:54 AM

jennmdlc jennmdlc

I supervise closely if my child heads over to those areas they can fall from. If they are heading for safer places, i usually step back and let them be.

aiden... aidensema

i dont always shadow my 2 years old. if there arent many kids around that are much bigger and rougher than him than i let him do as he pleases thou he does ask for my help on certian things. i just hate it when moms shadow their kids and dont let them explore as they should. it pisses me off but than again im sure they are pissed off that i let me kid do as he pleases when its safe.

luved... luvedward

My baby is not quite 2, and very fearless, so I tend to hover a little with her, but I say let them learn, sometimes, that means they have to get the lesson the hard way.

twinc... twinclubmom

I have twins which makes going to the park possible but challenging. Once the boys were walking my friend, her twins, my twins, and I would go to the park together. We'd take turns helping the kids get up a slide/onto a structure while the other caught the kids at the bottom.

Our twins are 2 1/2 now and pretty much know the ropes at our local park. We don't sit on benches nor are we on top of the kids at all times. Rather we stand by the structure they're playing on and keep a close eye. They're becoming more adventurous and attempting to climb things they couldn't climb last year so we definitely have to be on hand and at times assist them.

DeTor... DeTora_Family

I am a "helicopter" mom and damn proud of it!  I will never again listen to anyone suggesting that I step back and let my son play on his own.  He is very coordinated at 27 months, however, he loves to copy older kids.  The one time I stood 10 feet away from the play structure (marked for 2-5 years by Little Tikes), he started across a bridge cautiously and suddenly decided to turn while walking and fell down.  I gasped, but he was fine, until he rolled to get up and fell almost five feet off the bridge opposite side, out of my reach.  He just slid off, and I couldn't do anything about it.  It was the scariest thing because the railing on the bridge was not low enough and he slid right under it.  No matter what, there is danger at this age and bigger kids running into smaller ones, among other things.  I won't hover when he's 4 or 5, but at 2, and probably 3, I will be right there to save him.  I have prevented dozens of accidents.

BTW, he was not hurt at all, as he landed feet first on thick wood chips and went into a sitting position.

fprag... fpraglowski

I said it depends...and that is on the playground equipment and the individual child.  As long as the equipment is safe enough...age appropriate and not geared towards older kids...then I say let the toddler go ahead and try.  It also depends on the 3 year old is outgoing and adventurous.  She can manuever all kinds of equipment on her own and I don't have to be right there hovering.  My 2 year old however...still has some trouble with certain equipment so I have to help him anyway.

cindy... cindythemom

it all depends on how sturdy they are walking and keeping good balance...

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