Playing in the park is one of the favorite activities of children . There they socialize, learn the rules of the game, develop their abilities, senses and creativity, and gradually internalize the rules of coexistence.
The park should be a positive place for children to enjoy and learn, but in many cases it ends up becoming a source of conflict due to the malpractice of the adults who accompany them.
If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caregiver to a child, here’s what NOT to do when you take your child to the park .
Get rid of your son
I bet you’re familiar with this scene: you’re pushing your child’s swing and a little boy, whom you don’t know, comes up and asks you to get on the swing next to him.
You look around for an adult in charge of that child, but you don’t see anyone. When asked about his mom or dad, he points to a person completely absorbed in his mobile phone, who hasn’t even noticed that his son is talking to you.
Unfortunately, I’ve run into this situation plenty of times .
Children who roam freely in the park without anyone watching them; who fall to the ground and have no one to help them get up; that they run towards the road after a ball, being other people – and not their parents or caregivers – who stop them; who steal toys from other children with total impunity; who push or hit without anyone correcting their behavior…
Taking a child to the park does not mean “letting him go” and forgetting about him while we read, chat with other parents or look at the mobile. Although it is a playful, open and children’s space, parents must take responsibility for our children at all times and continue educating them wherever they go.
Getting involved in children’s issues
At the opposite extreme to the previous case would be those hyperprotective parents who are not capable of observing from the background , but instead need to continuously direct the lives of their children (and that of other children).
But none of this will be possible if we adults continually meddle in their things , we resolve conflicts for them, we ask other children to let ours play, we guide their play, we do not allow them to test their physical limits and train their motor skills. …
Of course, it is important to be aware of our son and help him if he needs us (we see it in the following example), but never cancel his will, decision-making capacity and autonomy.
Do not intervene if we see that our son suffers
Conflicts between children are common : they hit each other, take away toys, push each other, throw sand… As we have been saying, they are learning to relate and every learning process takes time.
In this sense, when a conflict occurs between young children, the usual thing is that it does not escalate and they resolve it on their own. But if we see an imbalance in the situation and clearly our child suffers the consequences, doing nothing is not the solution.
For children, parents are their attachment figures, their comfort and their refuge. If we let our son have a hard time witnessing the situation, we will be missing that blind trust he has in us.
Thus, for example, if a child attacks our son and his parents are not present at the time, we have to stop the aggression by acting respectfully. Then, we must comfort our son without downplaying what he is feeling, while providing him with the necessary tools to manage said conflict.
Scold children who are not ours
In line with the above, many parents take the liberty of scolding unknown children when they think they have done something inappropriate. In general, this is something we should avoid and if you have something to say, always talk to the adult in charge of that child .
Rebuking our son in public
If it is our son who does something inappropriate, it is our obligation to reprimand his attitude in a constructive way, make him see the consequences of his actions and review the limits again to prevent them from being broken again.
But it is essential that we do all this in private and away from the eyes of other people , for several reasons:
- If we correct our son in public, other people could form a distorted image of our little one according to our sermon and, consequently, attribute certain labels to him.
- Although the child has made a mistake, he deserves to be treated with respect, and reprimanding him in front of his friends, known or unknown people, is disrespectful, can embarrass him and damage his self-esteem.
- If we reprimand publicly, it is very likely that we will feel conditioned to act in the way that we think others expect us to act, without considering the needs of our child.
After speaking with our son privately in a respectful way, it would be his turn to help him repair the error and apologize to the people affected.
Forcing your child or other children to share
Surely on more than one occasion you have found yourself in the park with children (known or unknown to your child) who, seeing your little one’s toys, have asked you if they can borrow one.
Faced with this courtesy question, most parents tend to quickly answer yes, without realizing that we do not have the right to decide about our child’s belongings.
Therefore, in this situation, it is advisable to urge the child to ask ours directly if they want to share their toys, and of course, respect our child’s decision.
But the opposite can also happen, and that is that our child wants another child’s toy. If so, we should encourage them to borrow it politely and let them decide between them .
In no case should we overwhelm the other child with phrases such as : “why do you leave your ball for my son?”, “you have to share your toys”, “leave your truck, which is smaller than you”, “it does not happen nothing, he returns it to you right away” … In short, let’s not do with other children what we would not like other adults to do with our child.
Placing your child in the care of another older child
Children, no matter how old and mature they seem to us, are just children and their responsibility should not be to take care of other smaller ones ; even if it is your siblings, neighbors or friends.
Leaving a young child in the care of another can be dangerous. But also, when we make a child responsible for the care of a minor, we are not taking into account their need to play and run freely in a carefree way.
Give the child a mobile phone to play
Sometimes children get frustrated, angry and emotionally explode under the watchful eyes of everyone. In those moments, with the sole desire to calm them down, many parents make the mistake of using their mobile phone as an emotional pacifier.
I have also seen bored children sitting on the park bench playing with their parents’ phones . Perhaps these, in an attempt for the child to “not bother” while their siblings play or they chat with other adults, give in to technology.
Young children shouldn’t be using screens, let alone under these circumstances. The park is a place to play outdoors and interact, not to isolate yourself behind a screen.
Distribute food and snacks among other children
When it’s time to have a snack, another very common scene in the park is to start handing out cookies, snacks or other appetizers to the rest of the children who are with ours, as a sign of courtesy.
But we should never, ever give food to another child without the prior permission of their parent or adult in charge . Think that there could be a child allergic to any of the foods you are offering, or parents who simply do not want their children to eat depending on what things.
In short, the snack you take to the park must be solely and exclusively for your child , and if you want to offer it to others or if a child asks you, always ask the adult.