Lately, I’ve been hearing things around the playground that I find, well, shocking. For one, there are a lot of parents who tell their kids to go down the slide the “right way.” What does that mean? It means kids can only go down the slide sitting down. They can’t climb up the slide or go down it head-first. Some kids can’t even go down train-style (as my kids like to call it) linking their legs around the waist of another kid down the slide.
I understand the concern for safety and rules at the playground. If my kid climbs up the slide when there’s already someone sliding down, then of course that’s not okay. I talk to my kids about looking out for others, especially younger kids, and to be courteous. But if no one is on the slide, I don’t see the problem with kids climbing up. The same goes for a steep slide—I wouldn’t let my kids slide down head-first (they might just land on it at the bottom)—but if the slide isn’t steep, I don’t see anything wrong with letting them slide down that way.
I also hear some parents tell the kids not to climb the outside of a play structure. They want their kids to climb only in the designated climbing areas, like a rock climbing wall. Or worse yet, I hear a few parents tell their kids not to climb the trees at the park. When did climbing trees become taboo? And aren’t play structures built for climbing? Honestly, I’m impressed when my kids figure out how to climb on the outside of a covered slide or a tree with high branches—and I can see how proud they are of themselves for figuring it out on their own.
Then, it occurred to me—are we taking the fun out of being a kid?