Playground Etiquette

We are finally all feeling better, after a bout with the stomach virus for all of us last week.  I survived my first puke-in-the-middle-of-the-night episode and even managed to bathe Addison and change the crib sheets without waking Mackenzie.  Luckily, it was a relatively short-lived virus this time.

The weather was beautiful this weekend, and we spent most of Saturday outside.  I was supposed to walk a 5K with friends, but after being sick on Friday I was afraid I didn't have the strength to make it through the whole thing.  I needed to pick out birthday invitations for the girls, so Addison and I took a shopping trip while Mackenzie helped her daddy clean out his workshop.  It was nice for each of us to get some individual time with our girls, and Addison was a great shopping buddy!  We spent the afternoon riding cars, blowing bubbles, playing in the sandbox, swinging, and enjoying the sunshine.

Yesterday, after our Sunday afternoon naps, we decided to go to the park.  The one closest to our house has a nice playground, but it is usually pretty crowded on sunny weekend afternoons.  Jeremy and I favor one in town, where there is almost never anyone else playing.  It is nice having all the swings to ourselves!  I thought the girls could benefit from a little peer interaction, though, so we decided to go to the big one close to the house.

Now, I try very hard not to be a nervous, overprotective mother who is always hovering in the background to prevent my babies from getting into trouble, but at the playground, it's a different story.  A & M are fairly small for their age and can't manage the playground equipment very well.  Eventually, I am sure I will be one of those moms sitting in the shade, watching my girls play happily.  But right now, Jeremy and I hover nearby, making sure they don't step off the platform or fall off the stairs to the slide.

That's where my question comes in...when do you intervene if another child is being rude to your child?  I try to make A & M move on if there are other children waiting for the slide or the see saw, which doesn't happen often.  But sometimes kids want to play around them and get a little rough for my taste.  For instance, there was a little boy playing on the slide and jungle gym at the same time as the girls.  He was maybe four, but was easily three times their size.  I was moving Mackenzie from looking up the front of the tunnel slide and I asked the boy to wait before he slid so he wouldn't kick her.  The boy replied something to the effect of "I'll slide when I want to" and came barreling down the slide, just as I yanked M out of the way.  She narrowly missed being kicked in the face by the kid's cowboy boots (who the heck lets their kid wear cowboy boots to the park, anyway?).

We moved on to play with something else to escape the little punk (sorry, but that's how I felt about him!), but it really made me wonder about playground etiquette.  What are the accepted social behaviors there?  Was I okay in asking him to please not climb over my children to get to the slide?  Should we just stick to the empty park from now on?  What are your rules??


  1. LOl, great question. I have them myself when it comes to situations like this. In a dream world the mom of that little boy would have been nearby and corrected him or removed him from the situation. BUT that usually doesn't happen. I just move on. You never know when the parent is going to be some irrational my-child-does-no-wrong kind of parent. I do hover over Ava too. She is too small to just let go. I don't let her "hog" equipment or play mean. I feel other moms should do the same.

  2. Just came across your blog and am now following! I also have ID twin girls and know playgrounds with twin toddlers are difficult to navigate with out having to worry about other people kids!

  3. I had a similar situation at an indoor playground a couple of months ago. I was there by myself with the girls, which made it even harder, as I was trying to "hover over" both of them! HA!

    There was a little boy who was playing on equipment that was made for little ones. He had no business trying to squeeze on the tiny little see-saw, and he was being far too rough as well. Etiquette aside, I had to protect my girls, so I just moved them on to another activity. I hated that they couldn't enjoy some of the equipment because of him, but I just did my best to keep them away from him.

    I think your polite admonition to the child was appropriate; at least that gave you some insight as to whether to try to "work with him" or move on.

    I always fear that I would say something, as you did, and find myself staring at a big ol' "my-kid-can-do-no-wrong" mama...but I guess that's a risk we take! :)

    Glad you got to enjoy some sunshine!!!

  4. Oh the ex-teacher in me steps right in and corrects the out-of-line child's behavior. Haven't had to do it much, but most recently at Chuck-e-Cheese to a girl who's mom was too busy chasing her other 24 kids and missed her daughter pushing mine too many times!

  5. First of all, LOL at your "wild life" comment on Mandy's blog :)

    I had terrible internet last night so couldn't comment but of course, I have PLENTY to say.

    I wrote once on the blog but I step in - I almost can't help myself.

    I wait a few seconds to see if the parent will intervene; if not, then I get down on their level and say something directly to the kid like, "that's not nice" or "no, don't push" same as I would say to mine.

  6. First of all, congratulations on your first real kid puke. It's terrible, but a badge of honor nonetheless!

    As for "playground etiquette, I think it's totally fine to ask another, older kid to watch out for the little ones. Some moms are way too lax about their kid and their mouthing off to others. I am happily one of those parents in the shade these days- as the twins are now four- and I hope I don't miss anything going down, my girls are super polite, but I would be appalled if that punk kid had been one of mine!

    I say you have to watch out for your own kid first. If you offend some random parent- who cares? Their kid is the problem. I try and be as polite as possible, of course. But some kids are just terrors.

  7. I hate this playground caca...we were there on Sunday and I can tell you that the parents were very involved. We were on the apparatus and monitoring all of the kids. It was nice. I kind of knew two of the Moms, but it was good b/c we were all doing the same thing and asking our kids to respect each other.

    I hate it when other mothers don't do their part...annoying.


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