6 Playground Etiquette Rules to Teach Your Kids

By Willow Breckenridge | Jun 8, 2022

Taking your kids to the playground gets their little bodies in motion, providing them with needed physical activity. It’s a place to develop skills and meet new friends. 

However, any public place requires participants to follow certain rules so that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are six playground etiquette rules to teach your kid and ensure they master before letting them play by themselves. 

1. Wait Your Turn 

Patience is more important than ever in today’s world. Many facilities face staff shortages, meaning longer waits to participate in group activities. More moms have chosen to homeschool their children, meaning your favorite swingset might be more crowded than usual if too many of them take “recess” at the same time. However, social distancing demands no crowding and certainly no shoving. 

Teaching your kids patience can be crucial in demonstrating emotional regulation techniques. What can your children do while they wait? Brainstorm options with them, like conversing with another person in line or playing a game on their cellphone. Your children benefit from knowing how to occupy their time and keep their minds off their mounting frustrations when things move more slowly than they like. 

A child’s capacity to regulate their emotions affects everything, from the type of friendships they develop to their academic performance. Teaching your children to recognize when they feel impatient and manage that emotion healthily puts them on the path to future success. 

2. Share 

The world doesn’t belong to certain people alone. In an ideal society, everyone would contribute and benefit from community resources. Creating a better world starts with the youngest generation — and teaching them to share. 

Most children care about others, but that empathy won’t extend to their behavior until they realize how their actions affect people besides themselves. You can model the behavior you like to see and look for teachable moments in daily life. For example, if your little one accompanies you to the gym, point out how the rules direct even grown-ups to take turns on the various pieces of cardiovascular equipment. 

It’s also wise to give your children gentle reminders before you head to the playground. That way, you spare them from potential embarrassment that can arise from correcting them in front of others. You can say things like, “When we get to the park, lots of children will want to take a turn playing with your toys. How can you work out a fair way for everyone to share?” Putting the question to your little creates a sense of agency, that their choices have the power to influence their world. 

3. Avoid Name-Calling

You heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Please don’t believe it. Human emotions affect physical health and vice versa. One insult may not destroy an individual, but a lifelong buildup of insulting slurs can crush someone’s self-esteem and even distort their perception of reality. If emotional abuse continues long-term, it can lead to severe conditions — many of those with chronic pain have histories of trauma. 

Teach your children to talk to others like they would their best friend — with kindness and empathy. When conflicts arise, model successful resolutions strategies like taking turns talking while a third party mediates the conversation. Remember, not every other child on the playground has your little one’s level of emotional awareness. Teach them to ident

4. Wear Appropriate Attire 

Wearing the wrong clothing to the playground can result in injury — to your child or others. Ensure your kids know how to suit up before you set them loose to play with their friends. 

The most important gear your kids need is a pair of sturdy, close-toed shoes that let them run and jump. Those with velcro are ideal for younger tykes who can trip over untied laces. 

Whenever possible, dress your children in long pants and sleeves to minimize the risk of cuts and scrapes. Avoid overly baggy items that can snag, leading to accidents. 

5. Refrain From Horseplay 

It isn’t sufficient to say “no horseplay.” You need to let your children know what constitutes such behavior. 

Tell your kids that horseplay is rough play that distracts them from other potential hazards in the environment. For example, they might not notice they’ve strayed into the roadway or parking lot or too close to a body of water. Let them know they should not push, pull or shove others, climb on equipment not meant for such purposes, or run in crowded areas. 

6. Know Where a Trusted Adult Is at All Times

It’s ultimately your responsibility to keep an eye on your kids. Still, your phone will occasionally ring and distract you. Ensure that your children know where a trusted adult is at all times and who they should approach if they become lost. 

For example, child safety expert Gavin de Becker cautions parents about the often-cited advice to look for police when lost in public. How often is an officer available when you need them the most? Instead, he advises them to look for a woman. She’s statistically far less likely to be someone who would harm a child — especially if your kiddo feels confident approaching her and not vice-versa. She’s also more likely to get and stay involved until your little one is safely back in your arms. 

Playground Etiquette Rules to Teach Your Kids 

Going to the park offers opportunities for fun and exercise. Ensure you teach these playground etiquette rules to your kids so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience. 

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