[Disclaimer: If you reside in the Greater New York City area, you may be best able to relate to this alternate title–Playground Etiquette: Dealing With Other Children and Their Nannies]
Upon becoming a mother and taking Branden to the park a few times a week to burn off steam (and let’s be honest, I’m also motivated by the increased chance of him taking a great nap after all the exercise), I’ve learned that going to the playground is not always the relaxed experience I had dreamed about when I became pregnant. There are of course the days when we meet up with Branden’s neighborhood friends and their mothers who I’ve befriended as well, and it is an enjoyable time. But, then there are those other days where children and their parents come out of the woodwork with no manners or consideration for ANYONE else. Since my goal is to try to handle every situation with poise, it can sometimes be overwhelming as well as disappointing.
Though I’ve often wished there was a posted written code for proper playground etiquette, over the years I have formed my own strong opinions about what we as parents should and should not do, as well as opinions about directing our children’s behavior. Trust me, I am confident that if we all follow these simple guidelines, we will all be poised Mamanistas, and the playground will become the happy place it’s intended to be.
The PROJECT MOTHERHOOD’s Guide to Playground Etiquette:
1. Teach your children to be nice to other children, no matter what.
2. If you see your child doing something that is wrong, say something.
3. Do not touch a child that you do not know, unless they are in a dangerous situation.
4. Teach your child to share within reason. (See related post about sharing etiquette titled “Sharing is Caring?“)
5. The playground is not a free babysitting zone. Stay at the playground with your child and make sure you have eyes on him or her at all times. (Sometimes I find myself checking my mirror to see if I have “free babysitter” written across my forehead.)
6. If you bring your dog to the playground, keep it on a leash and well away from a child’s quick reach.
7. If you have an older child, raise their awareness that younger children cannot do the same things that they can (i.e. climb up high play towers).
8. If you have an older child, it doesn’t make them the babysitter or the boss of the younger children, so make sure they understand this.
Though most of these rules seem to be common sense, believe it or not, I have encountered parents doing many of these no-nos. There have even been times when it became so bad that I removed Branden from the playtime situation (kicking and screaming, of course), and I had to take a disappointed little boy home to pursue a different activity.
As a parent, we all want the best for our children. And, in order to help them grow up as well rounded adults, I do think its important to give them all types of experiences. But, at the end of the day, it starts with us, as parents behaving either well or poorly. We need to be setting the best example that we can, because our children learn more from watching our actions when we interact with others than they do whenever we are lecturing them about how to act.
Therefore, my lovely Mamas, let’s make a pact to always be on our best behaviors at the playground, as well as everywhere else we go. A little kindness and good manners can go a long way, both for ourselves and for the sake of our children. And there is nothing more lovely than that!