10 Ways to Make the Most of the Playground

Playgrounds are wonderfully exciting for children. As well as providing an opportunity to make friends, using playground equipment can help to build children’s dexterity, strength and confidence. Being outdoors regularly is good for both children and parents’ well-being and sharing fun at the playground also creates more opportunities to bond with your child.

Read on for this week’s instalment of our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series which explores how to make the most of the playground.

  1. Get to know your local playground. Become familiar with the equipment and the space, and which equipment is appropriate to your child’s age and development. Help your child to get to know their limits and capacity and enable them to relax in the space.
  2. Play with your child but also encourage your child to use the time to interact with other children, and you can take the opportunity to interact with other parents. Encourage social engagement. Children learn the rules of play by playing with other children. Support them in the playground to be assertive, to practice talking with children, and sharing and turn taking.
  3. Watch your child. Do not use the time to read or text or browse your phone. Playgrounds are public spaces and this should be remembered at all times – be vigilant. Also, your children like to know you’re watching so you can see what they can do. They need your facial reactions to encourage and support them to keep exploring and challenging themselves.
  4. Try to be conscious of potential accidents and safety aware, but don’t let it stop your child from using the space well. Bring wipes and plasters with you. Allow them to pick things up (within reason) and examine them. Let them get dirty and wet. Give them permission to do these things. The playground is not the time for showing off your child’s best style.
  5. Bring a potty if they are toilet training or under 3 years. Often there are not toilets nearby but usually it is acceptable to sit on a potty in a quiet corner.
  6. Bring healthy drinks and snacks and use the time well. Playground visits should not be associated with sweet treats.
  7. Play with your child, laugh and explore. It’s nice to recall what it is like to be a child. Have a go on the swings and slide and laugh out loud. These are the things your child will recall as they grow. Also it’s good therapy for any parent!
  8. Make play dates for the playground. It can be easier to manage children in the playground than in your home at times. Plan times to meet up with other parents but don’t use all the time to chat or you will miss out on your quality time with your child.
  9. Don’t let the weather stop you going out. Often it is only adults who don’t like the rain. Children love puddles, getting wet and feeling the wind blow them along. Dress them appropriately and get out of the house every day for at least 30 minutes. You will both feel better.
  10. If you don’t have a playground within easy access, be creative with whatever outdoors space you have available near home, in a park or on a green. There are so many ways to help children play. Usually once they are free from hand holding to run about, they are happy out!

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family, and more helpful ’10 Ways’.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie. Find out more about our parenting skills programmes here.