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Don't help my kid on the playground. But not why you think.

So the tagline of Fit4Mom is “helping moms make strides in fitness, motherhood, and life,” and while I generally stay away from motherhood topics, I wanted to share my point of view.

There have been some conflicting articles about playground time. One side says “don’t help my kid out because you remove her ability to do things herself”, and the other side says “Get off your smartphone and spend 5 minutes with your kid.” I’m going to present a 3rd argument. Safety first. But not the way you think.

Yesterday, my family was at the playground, and the equipment was slightly too advanced for my 2 year old. He is a VERY TALL 2 year old. Like 99th percentile. But his dad is 6’6”, so we accept that our kids are big. He also has a 7 year old sister, who has been extremely good at her gross motor skills from a very young age—climbing before walking, sliding face first down big kid slides at 10 months, etc. She taught him how to do big kid movement from the beginning.

My 2 year old son was playing with a 4 year old boy (he was slumming it because his sister was busy), who climbed up this huge structure that had stiff rope webbing. My son followed after him, just to the top of the ladder, and then tried to get to the top, and couldn’t. My husband was honestly ITCHING to go help him. We watched him together, and I said “trust him.” Every time my husband started forward to help my son up or down, I told him “Stop. Just wait and see what he does.” Eventually, my son climbed back down, not very easily, but he got down, and went somewhere else. My husband was impressed with him, and I think a little surprised that a 2 year old would accept his limitations and turn around.

Here’s where my 3rd perspective comes in. Please don’t help someone else’s kid up onto things they can’t climb themselves. What happens if they can’t get back down? Helping a child to a place they can’t get to creates a serious safety issue. If you have been to a playground, you understand how quickly a child can move from one piece of equipment to another, and even if mom is eagle eye, she may not be there in time if he does something stupid.

When the child is able to get onto a piece of equipment himself, he learns how to put his feet and hands where they need to go to get himself somewhere, and then he also learns how he should put his feet and hands when he wants to GET DOWN.

If the parent isn’t right next to the child, maybe the parent is letting the child explore to the maximum of that child’s abilities. After letting my kid fall down a few times (YES, I’m watching), I trust that he will NOW go where he CAN go, and not go where he CAN’T go. Tomorrow, he might be able to get there. And he’ll probably know how to get back down, since he figured out how to get up.

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