As a new parent, there are a lot of new norms that you need to adjust to—from figuring out what exactly you need to put in the diaper bag when you leave the house, to navigating those tricky new relationships with other new parents.
After mastering professional world, whether that is a courtroom, a medical office, a classroom, or elsewhere, and then the other realms of the adult world like the gym, many parents don’t consider the playground as being a complex social situation. However, to keep all the kids safe—and the parents sane—you’ll soon realize that there is an unspoken set of rules that all parents abide by.
This is playground etiquette; and teaching your kids how to be kind followers of playground etiquette is likely to help them make friends on the playground, as well as help you make friends with their parents.
Rule #1: Share the Equipment
This especially goes for those hard to come by things like swings. If you are alone at the park, then swing as much as you want! However, if you are on the swings and a line forms, immediately acknowledge the other children by saying something like “okay, we have two more minutes before it’s another child’s turn” or “lets count 20 more pushes and then play something else.” This will help the child who is waiting understand that their turn will come soon.
Rule #2: Don’t Share Snacks
This is going to be tempting, even if you don’t think it would be at first. If you are going to bring snacks to the park, then a hovering free-range child will find you and ask for a snack. You may feel awkward saying no, but you don’t know that child’s situation, nor their allergies. Tell the child you need to talk to their parent first. If you don’t want to share because you didn’t bring enough, then put the snack away until the other children are gone.
Rule #3: Everyone deserves a chance to play
Big kids enjoy the park too, but they don’t always play great with little kids. Some parks have separate areas for big kids and little kids, which makes this a non-issue, but if the park you are going to doesn’t have separate areas, then you can’t expect the big kids to leave just because you’ve arrived with a little kid. If big kids are playing at the park, stay close to your child on the playground equipment so that you can make sure they are safe and that you can mark out a safe place for them to play. Pick out equipment that isn’t being used.
It won't take long for you to discover many parents and children do their best to play by these unspoken rules as well. What other playground social skills have you or your children already learned? Share in the comments!