Why Our Playground-Parenting Would Likely Tick You Off

90-degree-spiral-tube-slideOur oldest kids are about to turn two and three. With the weather being on its last stitch of niceness here in Louisville, Sarabeth and I decided to take them for one last hurrah at one of our neighborhood playgrounds.

Our oldest, Kat, is extremely agile and surprisingly skilled. Like, more coordinated than I was at seven. She’s also courageous and is a risk-taker.

Sometimes it’s hard to watch her climb to the top of the big kids’ skyscraper playground and keeping up with the toughest of them, but I’m not going to stop her. It’s my job as a parent to encourage growth and challenge – not hold her back.

At this particular playground we were at this last weekend, Kat got the whacky idea to climb on top – not inside of it, but up on top of the tube. So we let her, much to the chagrin of a couple of other parents whose older kids quickly followed suit.

I stood next to Kat as she attempted it the first time. She got a quarter of the way up, paused, said “no,” and I helped her down. The next time she tried it, she got a little further. I rooted her on the whole time while Sarabeth watched approvingly.

Why do we allow our kids to be such dangerous, risk-taking, rebel-rousing rule-breakers?

A couple of reasons: First off, there’s no rule that says she can’t climb on top of the tube slide. We were proud of her for thinking outside the box and discovering not only a new way to have fun, but to push herself.

Another reason: She was not hurting anybody. Sure, she inspired other kids to throw off their shoes and scurry up the top side of the tube slide, but you should have seen their exultant faces when they reached the top (even while their parents were yelling at them to climb down – I wanted to ask them why).

Also, what’s up with our obsession of obeying rules? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. I’m coming closer and closer to the opinion that our obsession to conform is actually what’s killing us inside. More on this in a later post. Much more.

But back to my daughter climbing up the top of the tube slide. I was teaching my youngest to hang on to the zip slide all by himself (successfully), when I heard Sarabeth call me. She pointed to the highest point of the playground, and there, on just her third attempt, my daughter sat high and proud.

My little girl on top of her own personal Everest. All because she found a better and slightly more challenging way to play. She refused to conform. And I encourage that in almost every way.

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About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

7 Responses to Why Our Playground-Parenting Would Likely Tick You Off

  1. Check out Free Range Kids….you’re naturals!

  2. erinb9 says:

    Completely agree! I’ve gotten quite a few dirty looks myself for letting my daughters tackle the high slide and otherwise challenge themselves. I think we’re supposed to make sure they couldn’t possibly ever get even slightly hurt.

    But I think it’s dangerous to stop all experimentation and limit-seeking. I try to quickly assess the situation for the possibility of them getting *really* hurt and then let them take a few harmless tumbles. If we always protect them, how will kids ever learn what’s dangerous?

    • Andrew Toy says:

      Nailed it. There’s a universe of difference between *really* hurt and some minor tumbles. If there risk lies somewhere in between, then we can be nearby to catch them.

  3. Amen and Amen! Thanks for being such great parents! Y’all are inspirations. Congratulations to your brave daughter who learned life skills and lessons that she will never forget.

  4. And… you are letting your kids BE kids!

  5. Its funny my son is on the spectrum and because of this a lot of people believe that I should coddle him and protect from everything. I feel it is the opposite. I need to help him explore, to challenge, and let him be a kid. We coddle our kids so much and then wonder why they can’t seem to make simple decisions.

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