By Leah DeCesare, author of Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence
As moms, we spend time teaching our kiddos how to behave on the playground, but do you think about your own actions at the park? Here are some playground rules for parents.
1. Sit back and watch
Of course, depending upon your children’s ages, you need to vary your oversight, but even with young kids, allow yourself to linger back and watch how they interact, play, climb or build. Give them space and time to explore and play within their own imaginations and desires without adult intervention.
Kids learn independence and benefit from a little “contained freedom.” As difficult as it can be, our job as parents is exactly that: to teach our children, bit-by-bit over time, to be able to live without us.
Do take the time to play, run around, swing, slide and laugh alongside them, but not always. Let them lead the way, let them leave you on the bench, let them figure things out and grow as they do.
2. Let kids test their limits
Letting kids roam and climb and test their physical capabilities. When my daughter was four, she had a German preschool teacher and one particular conversation has stuck with me, even as she’s learning to drive now.
The teacher compared American playground parenting with the German style and she observed too many American parents hovering, coddling and limiting their children. The intent of these parents was to protect their sweeties, but the teacher noted, it can lead to greater injuries and harm since kids don’t have a sense of their physical abilities.
Kids need to learn about where their bodies are in space. They need to try to climb one rung higher, to experiment with jumping off a moving swing, and to hoist themselves the wrong way up a slide to learn their own abilities. Allowing children, and even encouraging them, to have freedom of movement, lets them better understand and trust their bodies and their capabilities.
3. If you say you’re going to leave, leave.
As I write about in Naked Parenting, this is the key to teaching children to listen to you the first time and it is a cornerstone of effective parenting. You’ve heard it hundreds of times: You must be consistent in parenting. It’s true and it works.
If you have one-of-those-days and your little one is throwing sand or grabbing the ball, again, and you’ve uttered that threat, “If you do that one more time, we’re going home!” Then the next time the sand flies or the ball is yanked, calmly and swiftly pack-up. Gather your child with a clear, succinct message, “We are leaving now because you threw sand,” then walk (or carry) him to the car and off you go. This is how children begin the critical process of connecting their actions with consequences and the next time you make a statement, they’ll know that mom means what she says.
Those are my top three playground rules for parents. They’re often not easy to do, but almost always in life, the hard thing to do is the right thing to do. Enjoy these playground days while your kids are little,
Leah DeCesare is the mother of three children, two teenagers and an elementary-aged daughter. She is a writer, doula, early parenting and childbirth educator and she blogs at www.motherscircle.net about perspectives on parenting from pregnancy to teens. Her book, Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence, is available now on Amazon.
Her book, Naked Parenting: 7 Keys to Raising Kids with Confidence,, is parenting stripped down to the bare basics focusing on seven keys to raising kids who are self-sufficient, confident, respectful, and resilient. Nudity not required. It is a sensible, realistic and practical guide for parents with children of all ages. Fun, honest, and easy-to-read, it provides creative tips and ideas that any parent can start using today.
The principles of Naked Parenting provide a framework to guide parenting decisions and actions within one’s own style of parenting. Simply explained, with straightforward strategies that parents can apply to issues of all kinds. Naked Parenting is available now on Amazon.