Parks are full of kids learning life lessons. You know the importance of sharing, why we must be kind, the first rule of fight club- all that jazz. Which is why I was recently surprised to learn a lil somethin’ myself!
I learned I should not be playing with my kid at the park.
Allow me to rewind and explain my absurdity.
There’s nothing my kids love more than a brand new-to-them park. Last year when we were staying in Hawaii for a spell, we became regulars at a nearby place. This park was one of the coolest we’d ever seen!
First of all the equipment was enclosed by a fence and on a rubber turf. All the parents sat in the parking lot, and all of the kids romped around in the enclosure. But even more striking than the equipment, was the way all the children played together!
Kids who didn’t even know each other were hopping right into one another’s games. No hesitation, no looking for permission from parents, just purely socializing together.
Then we came to California.
California parks drastically differ from Hawaii parks. Here each and every individual child comes with it’s own adult to ensure careful navigation through all the tunnels, and across all the bridges.
I know- I’m exaggerating but I’m trying to make a point here. Many times, even if the kids do initiate play with each other, each parent of the respective child watches closely, ready to jump in at the first sign of disruption. (Guilty!)
Now do I think that playing at the park a great way to spend quality time with our kids? Yes. 100%. However I ALSO think it’s important to consider the skills our kids are picking up.
When kids play with stranger kids, they are learning all kinds of things! Having the confidence to strike up conversations with others, and being able to make friends with ease is a valuable trait to be able to give to our kids.
If there are other age appropriate children there maybe LET THEM GO ROMP AROUND. Allow your child to experience unfairness and then teach them how to deal with it. Let them get knocked over and then be there to brush them off, and encourage them to go make a new buddy.
In a world where digital communication is becoming alarmingly prevalent- knowing how to communicate effectively with peers will greatly benefit our kids both personally and professionally in the future.