10 Unwritten Playground Rules All Parents Should Follow
April 7, 2013 | in Background Check
The playground is a place of sweet release for the children that frequent it, but can be as packed with drama as an afternoon soap opera for the adults looking after them. While there’s little that can be done to stave off simple personality conflicts or differences in opinion, adhering to a bit of playground etiquette could help to keep animosities to a minimum. These are ten of the rules that all parents and childcare providers should follow at the playground, regardless of their situation.
- Don’t Feed the Kids – You may think that peanut allergies are overrated and that there’s nothing wrong with exposing kids to a bit of peanut butter and jelly, but that doesn’t mean that your opinion is one that will be appreciated by other parents or even one that’s based in fact. Parents are well within their rights to impose dietary restrictions on their children, and they don’t need you to fill their little ones with processed snacks, probable allergens or sugar when their back is turned. If you didn’t bring the child, don’t feed the child.
- Pack Healthier Snacks – As an extension of the first rule, try to keep other parents in mind when you pack your playground snacks. Even if you see no reason why stuffing a child with chocolate and soda is frowned upon, realize that other parents are trying to instill good eating habits in their children. Part of good etiquette is being conscious of those around you, so save the sugary snacks for the privacy of your own home and make the decision not to negatively impact the efforts of other parents by waving processed sugars and fats around the park.
- Clean Up Your Own Messes – Leaving your candy wrappers, plastic bags, paper towels and dirty diapers all over the playground isn’t just unsightly and rude, but also terrible for the environment and an awful example for the kids that are looking up to you. Teaching your kids to clean up after themselves means that you’ll have to model that same behavior, so don’t leave a trail of garbage as you traipse around the playground.
- Keep Your Voice Down – Gleeful shouts and shrieks of joy are the soundtrack of the playground; bellowing adults are just disruptive. If yelling is a tactic you resort to in order to get your kids’ attention at home, look for another way to do so when you’re out in public. The other parents will thank you.
- Only Discipline The Children You Brought – If you see a child that refuses to share or is being rude to the other kids, it’s not your responsibility or your right to correct his behavior. Just direct your child away from him and use that behavior as a talking point with your own kids about how not to behave. Intervening or chastising a child that isn’t your own is just asking for the wrath of his parents, who aren’t likely to take kindly to the implication that they aren’t parenting properly. However, if a child under your care is being bullied or has been hit or pushed by the child of another, stepping in and informing his parent or caregiver is the right thing to do.
- Play Nice With Other Adults – The other parents and childcare providers at the playground may get on your last nerve, but you can’t very well expect your children to play nicely with their peers if you’re actively instigating trouble with your own peer group. Remember the old adage about what to do if you can’t say anything nice, and refuse to get pulled into any drama.
- Take Responsibility for Your Own Children – A crowd of adults doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of looking after the children you brought. You’ll quickly become a figure of resentment if you establish a reputation for ignoring your kids because you expect other parents to supervise them.
- Hands Off the Smartphones – It’s difficult to be attentive when you’re playing a word game on your smartphone that requires your full focus. Even if an afternoon at the playground is the only chance you get to relax during the week, make sure that you’re not ignoring your kids in favor of your phone.
- No Nanny Poaching – Watching the perfect nanny interact with her charges day after day can be so tempting; all you want is to find a nanny like her for your own children! No matter how wonderful she seems or how much you dislike her employers, remember that nanny poaching is a playground no-no. Few things are as sacred as the working relationship between a great nanny and her employers; violating it by attempting to poach that perfect nanny will almost certainly lead to major trouble.
- Keep Your Judgments to Yourself – The beautiful thing about parenting is that as long as you’re not actively harming your children, you can do it just about any way you like. With that freedom, though, comes the responsibility of realizing that you won’t always agree with the way that other people parent their children. It doesn’t matter how wrong you think they are, keep your judgments and observations to yourself unless they ask for your opinion directly. Even then, be careful how you word things. Feuds with other parents on the playground are easy to start, but can be almost impossible to resolve.
If you’ve been guilty of breaking these rules in the past, it’s not too late to change your ways. You may not ever be the favorite among other playground parents, but you can avoid future conflicts that seem to bubble up from time to time among play-group parents and nannies.← 12 Tips for Keeping the Backyard Safe This Spring | How to Check Up on Your Nanny When You Don’t Have Nanny Cams →
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