Things You Learn When You Don’t Helicopter at the Playground


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Playground 1

I will fully admit I was one of those parents.  I used to follow my daughter around the playground with my arms out, ready to catch her at any moment.  To be fair my tiny girl always wanted to climb the tallest everything… Yeah, I know.  It’s still no excuse.

Recently I’ve started to take a step back and let her do her thing and what I’ve seen is amazing.

They can have plenty of fun without you.  It might hurt to hear this, but kids don’t need you to have fun.  One look at that big spiral slide and she won’t even remember your name.

Try, try again comes naturally to kids.  My daughter’s a peanut.  She’s small for her age and can’t always do what other kids her age can do.  Or rather, she can’t do it at first.  Kids don’t know how to give up.  They have to learn how to do everything from walking to talking and they make A LOT of mistakes, but it doesn’t phase them.  They keep trying, and trying, and trying until they either get it or find another way.

They’ll make friends with anyone under 4-feet tall.  A little boy walked up to my daughter, looked her up and down, and said, “Go away.”  Miss O looked back and said, “No.”  So they went and played together for half an hour.  I wish adults were so easy to get along!

Their imagination is better than anything you can plan.  Watch any group of kids on a playground.  They’re not playing on a playground, they’re playing on a pirate ship, or a magical castle in the sky, or and underground lost kingdom.  No Pinterest-inspired, crafty project needed.

Things aren’t always what they seem.  One time my daughter’s shoe fell off as she went down the slide.  An older, bigger girl came over and picked it up, said a few words to my daughter… and walked away with the shoe.  I stepped back and watched to see what my daughter would do.  And then something unexpected happened.  My daughter followed the other girl up onto the play walkway, sat down, and the big girl helped my little girl put her shoes back on.  It was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen.

That said…

Some kids are just jerks.  Like adults, some kids are just rude, pushy, and no fun to have around.  Our kids are going have to deal with people like this their whole life, and now’s as good a time as any to let them figure out how.

And here’s the thing; Once you get over your urge to run over to your child, arms extended, ready to catch him if he falls, the whole thing is a lot more fun for you too.  My kid is pretty cool.  She’s creative, and friendly, and daring and watching her play is far more entertaining than fretting over every step she takes.

Chances are, your kid’s pretty cool, too.

Playground 3

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3 Comments

  1. Sheena June 23, 2015
  2. Sarah June 23, 2015
  3. queenofthewilsonhousehold June 26, 2015
  4. Pingback: Celebrating New Year's Eve with Young Kids December 3, 2015

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