It’s so important for young children to get outside and play. It’s also just as important to ensure our children are safe while playing, especially in areas that are open to the public. As a parent, it’s your number one priority to keep your child safe at all times. Although we can’t control what others do, we can always better prepare ourselves for what could possibly happen. Keep reading to learn all the safety tips you can implement at the playground to ensure your young child is safe and accounted for when playing in public areas such as the neighborhood park.
Safety Tips for Young Children at the Playground
Supervise Your Kids At All Times
Young children have a tendency to run off when excited and when in an area with other kids. Playgrounds and neighborhood parks can have a lot going on that can attract a child’s attention. It’s important to prepare your children before getting to the playground that they must pay close attention to their surroundings and ensure they can “spot” mommy or daddy when playing. Teach them to intentionally look for you every few minutes and wave to them as a sign of recognition. If they want to play in a different area, they need to come tell you first. Walking them through these rules before getting to the playground will ensure they actually hear you.
Don’t wait until you get to the playground to go over the rules. They will be so distracted by watching other kids have fun, it will be in one ear and out the other!
When supervising your kids, make sure they are playing safely and nicely with other kids. The last thing you want is your child getting in trouble for pushing another child off the jungle gym.
Inspect All Playground Equipment
Yes — we want you to be that parent. Especially if it’s your first time visiting the playground, you should be thorough in ensuring the equipment itself is safe for play. Look for rusted or broken equipment and consider the outside surroundings of the play area as well. Depending on how young your children are will determine what you should further look out for, but if the playground floor is covered in mulch or shredded rubber (which is typically the case), you may have to stay close by to ensure your toddler doesn’t work up a dangerous appetite.
Neighborhood parks or public playgrounds are typically in a central location, away from water or busy streets. However, you should always look further past the park to keep an eye on any outside danger zones. Make a mental note of any driveways, streets or entrances that are close to the playground.
DO THE RIGHT THING: If you happen to find a hazardous piece of equipment, be sure to report it to the community office or public officials so other children will avoid injury. Don’t hesitate to tell other parents as well!
Dress Your Kids for the Occasion
Your children are going to play, so make sure you dress them in clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and that are tight fitted to avoid snagging. To promote true safety, remove all necklaces, scarves, and add-on items like purses, pins, bows, etc. These are common things to get caught on other objects or that your child may lose while playing.
Another thing to be mindful of when dressing your kids for the playground is no loose clothing. If they are wearing baggy pants, they may be more likely to trip and fall when running around. Drawstring clothing can also be dangerous since it can get caught on certain equipment or, in worse case scenario, potentially cause a strangulation hazard. We definitely do not want that.
Determine the Right Play Area for Your Young Child’s Age
What’s safe to play for a five-year-old is not safe to play for a two-year-old. Consider your child’s age when heading to certain areas of the park. Big kids will most likely have more equipment to play on than younger kids. Most public parks will have signs up with age-appropriate restrictions labeled.
When you have a younger child, be prepared to be heavily involved in their playtime. Young children are still clumsy and learning body placement. They are curious and more confident that they should be at times, so it’s important to be close by to ensure they don’t get too brave and hurt themselves unintentionally.
Teach Your Children Playground Etiquette
Of course, it’s important to teach your young children how to behave and play well with others. Teach your children that pushing, shoving, and yelling at other children is not okay. Be sure to also explain to them they are going to have to wait their turn and share with others. Neighborhood parks and public playgrounds can get busy fast. Your kids may not be used to the crowd which is why you need to prepare them beforehand.
How to Teach Your Children About Strangers
We’re sure you’ve heard the famous line, “Stranger, danger!” Although the intention behind this term is meant for good, it can be confusing to young children. We want to teach our children to be social and trust adults in case of situations where they are lost or need help. Not all “strangers'' are bad; therefore, it’s more about teaching your children how to recognize the difference.
Teach Your Children to Follow Their Instinct
Believe it or not, the best way to teach your young children about strangers and the danger of them is by teaching them what it means to have intuition. Even babies can sense when the person holding them is stressed out or scared. That’s why sometimes babies will cry more when parents become uptight from lack of sleep. Young children are no different in terms of sensing danger.
You should help your children recognize when they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. This way, they can alert themselves to get away from that specific person immediately.
Look For Adults in Uniform
If your child is in a dangerous situation with a stranger or feels uncomfortable, or is approached inappropriately by a stranger, and you are not around, you want them to be able to trust another adult to protect them until they find you. The best way to ensure your child finds a trustworthy person is to teach them about people in uniforms. Help your children to understand and know the difference between everyday people and people in uniforms such as police officers, security guards, and even employees.
Go Off Of Actions, Not Appearance
Young kids will naturally run away from people who appear to be scary or mean-looking. However, child molesters and abductors intentionally look friendly and safe so children will talk with them. That’s why it’s important to teach your children how to react based on others actions, not just their appearance. You can explain to your child that if they are approached by a stranger and they are offered a ride to somewhere or a treat (like candy or a toy), they should immediately run away.
Simple conversations like these can save your children from a very scary scenario. It’s unfortunate that playing in a public area can bring this type of fear, but it’s better to make your children aware than the alternative.
Let Kids Be Kids
It’s necessary for young children to get play time. This helps in their overall development but remember, kids will be kids! A little dirt or a tiny scratch never truly hurt anybody. Take these safety tips and apply them with intention so your kids can be safe but still play as they were intended to.
The California Beach Co. is committed to the safety of children. To create a safe place for your child while at the playground or local park, we recommend the Pop ‘N Go Playpen.