Let Your Kids Play: Park Playground Tips



We spend a whole lot of time at parks, even in the winter.  Sometime we even go to two parks back to back, because we're crazy like that!  I feel a little silly even writing this, but I overhear and see a lot of the same things from parents each time we go.  There is so much going on at the park for your toddler besides just a time filler!  So I thought I would offer some (seemingly) simple tips to parents with toddlers, that will hopefully make the park not only fun for you and your kid(s), but a learning experience too!


No seriously, let them run!  I can't tell you the number of times I hear parents saying "Don't run!" at the park.  In fact, I've heard it at nearly every park I've been to.  There are so many places that kids probably shouldn't run...the pool, church, inside the house, etc.  But the park should not be one of them.  If not the park, then where?




Here's where I am probably way more lax than most.  I want Rilo to try anything!  She is fearless by nature but also by nurture.  If she wants to try it, I want her to try it too!  Whether it be the two story slide in St. Louis (seriously, St. Louis has the craziest slides, see the picture at the top), the rock wall, the sand pit or the monkey bars.  Of course that doesn't mean I don't help her or spot her or watch her, but I let her try whatever she wants.   Yes, Rilo may get messy or there may be some bumps and bruises along the way, but there is so much more happening when she tries new playground equipment.  She is learning gross motor skills, problem solving and boosting her confidence all at once.  She's also learning what she is capable of doing and what she may not be able to accomplish for a few years.  You should have seen the look on Rilo's face the other day when she figured out how to climb the rock wall (that was much taller than me) all by herself.  She was so proud and I was too!  I think sometimes as parents we get stuck in the "no and don't" rut and the park is a great place to try and get out of it!


The playground is a great place for kids to learn social cues, make friends, observe behavior and interact with kids of different ages.  Unless I see inappropriate/dangerous behavior, I love to let Rilo meet new park friends and play on her own with them.  I sit back and observe and see what we can work on together at home.  Right now, she most definitely need some work on taking turns!  But she has mastered asking someone's name and telling them her name in return.  And these are the types of things I learn from simply watching her play at the park!  We often talk on the way home about the things we saw and the interactions that happened and whether they were "nice" (her favorite word) or not.



What about you?  Any good park tips to offer?

5 thoughts on “Let Your Kids Play: Park Playground Tips

  1. ashley@marriedlane

    This is such a great post! I'm definitely in the "let them go" camp with you - Emma is also fearless and loves to do everything the big kids do, and I let her! Most of the time I'm amazed at her ability to figure out an obstacle, or climb a twisted piece of metal. She's such a strong little thing. Our temptation as parents is definitely to hold our kids back so they don't get hurt, but that's a part of life! I've never heard anyone say, "That person lived an amazing, adventurous, SAFE life" 🙂

  2. Erin

    I definitely agree with your tips - the only one I'd add is to avoid doing things for them - if they want to try to climb, great! But let them do it on their own (with you there in case they fall) so that they don't get a false sense of security and think they can do it when you AREN'T there. This blog post describes the reasons why very well!


  3. Melissa

    We live in Southern California where the weather is nice and the parks are plentiful. Before my kids were in school, we literally expolored a new park daily. I purposely looked for parks that had places to explore other than playstructures and found it amazing how many times I was reprimanded by moms for letting my kids climb trees, scale up hills or play in "non designated" areas. I even got yelled at once for allowing my son to climb UP the slide instead of using the ladder. If there are other kids coming down the slide, then of course he has to use the ladder but if there are no other kids, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM????

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