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You are here: Home > Toddlers > Parenting

Park Etiquette

by Sonya Versluys |
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Yesterday we went to the park to play and my daughter couldn't have been more excited when we rounded that last corner. She had waited so patiently while I pulled her in the wagon. That last few minutes of walking up the path while the park was in view was almost torture for the little girl who had been cooped up all day.

However, within seconds of getting out of the stroller there were tears. She had been hit on the head with a spade because she had dared to walk over someone's sand-castle. She looks at me with these huge teary eyes and a question mark.

PROPERTY LAW
You see, she hasn't quite got to the stage of recognizing ownership laws. As far as she is concerned, everything is an open target and if there is a sand-castle present, well it needs to be jumped on! I feel the pain of constantly turning down my daughter's attempts to touch nearly everything she goes for when there are other children present. How do you explain to a toddler that even though that bucket is safe, unoccupied and very appealing, you still can't touch it?

Fortunately most other Mommies and Daddies that you meet at the park will be willing to share (even if their kids aren't!). Usually a simple, "Do you mind if we use this?" will gratify the owner of said bucket. It's also good to at least take some of your own toys along if for no other reason than something to barter with. Everyone else's toys are always much more appealing!

PERSONAL SPACE LAW
As kids get older they tend to be a little more aware of other people's personal space, but for the toddler it is still pretty much anything goes. They adhere by the rule, "If I want to be there then I can" (kind of similar to the - "If I want it, it is mine theory"..). This includes but is not limited to, slides, the swing, the nicely built sand-castle and corresponding large hole in the ground. It is your job to run around the park not only making sure your child doesn't injure themselves but that they don't injure anyone else either.

Last week I managed to catch my daughter by the foot as she was pushed off a climbing gym by another forceful toddler whom she had bothered. This also presents another situation.....

DEALING WITH OTHER PLAYGROUND MOMMIES AND DADDIES
Most parents will be pretty understanding and accommodating when it comes to other people's kids at the playground. You should however be prepared for the occasional person who is not amused by your child's cute smile and enthusiasm as she jumps all over a castle or steals a bike (it's much better than hers after all) or tackles them to get by on the slide. All I am saying is, be prepared to be the bigger person. After all, no kid needs to see adults come to blows over a sand-castle. Everyone has a bad day occasionally!

SNACK LAW
Recently we were at the park and my daughter walks away for a second and comes back to me with a packet of goldfish crackers. I was not concerned that she was eating the crackers, but I was concerned for the poor little kid whom I thought she must have removed them from. Well, as it turns out some well prepared mother had bought enough for everyone. I guess she was tired of having to share just a few crackers because I spied her handing out packets of them left and right.

Now, I don't have a problem with goldfish crackers so it wasn't an issue for us but I can't help but think of the many people I know who would have had a problem with it. It is really hard at the best of times to monitor the food intake of a child without others, especially strangers, feeding them for you. General rule here folks - ASK before you feed someone else's child. There may be a very good reason why they can't have it, even though they are begging you desperately. Plus, it is always a good idea to encourage your child not to take food from strangers.

As for my little girl? She always recovers enough to have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the park. We sing all the way home in the wagon and count the number of sand-pit toys we lost and gained!

Happy parking!


Parenting in the Middle Years - ages 5 - 12You Don't Always Have To Share


Author Sonya Versluys describes herself as "A creative person with a new passion....My daughter! Choosing to stay at home and be a Mom has meant chanelling that creative energy to new formats. Here I am! I am also an avid photographer, storywriter and painter. I have a history in Early Childhood Education and Psychology"
Australia sversluys@hotmail.com
http://www.inacreativeway.com

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