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Why the Need to Police Parent Behavior?

Photograph by Keryn Means

"The Nine Most Annoying Playground Parents." "Playground Rules for Parents." "The Eight Kinds of Playground Parents: Which One are You?" When did areas for swing sets and climbing structures become such a complicated social sphere that someone had to write lists of rules and articles that categorize parents who go there into "types"? I thought playgrounds were just for our kids, a place where they get to blow off some steam and where we parents get to kick back with our friends.

Apparently not.

As a Seattle mom, I have noticed that at the playground I exhibit a social behavior characterizing me as one type of parent you apparently just don’t want to be. I’m the yeller.

The Stir wrote in the Huffington Post back in March 2012 about the loud moms. "Yell, YELL, YELLING is such a buzzkill for all the park-goers. I feel like it sends everyone into a frenzy. Let's try to keep it mellow and have a sunshine-y day."

RELATED: 4 Ways to Kill Time at the Playground

Yes, I yell to my kids at the playground. No, I am not carrying on a complete conversation with them, but I do yell across the playground when we have to leave or if I can’t find one of my kids. I have a two year old. When his big brother wants to leave the swings and play with the other kids, but my toddler will not leave the swings without a fight, I’m going to let my older son go play. Every once in a while I might not be able to see him. We live in a city and, although his kidnapping is unlikely, it is a possibility. He could also decide to wander off with some other kids who decide it is OK to go to the 7-11 across the street.

Am I going to pick up the baby and wander all over the playground just to make sure he is there? No. I’m going to shout his name quickly so he pops out from whatever rock or slide he is hiding behind. He knows this is just my way of checking in with him. This seems like a reasonable thing to do.

So why am I the only mother yelling at the playground?

There was no long talk. There was no conference between parents about how to handle the situation.

Parents are either so checked out, or so worried about what other people think, they don’t seem to care that they could easily check in with their kids via a simple shout, instead of disrupting all the fun.

Richie Frieman wrote The 9 Most Annoying Playground Parents for the Huffington Post in June 2014. In his article he ridiculed me, the yelling mom, for not picking up my younger baby, traipsing across the playground to ask my son a simple question and then traipsing back to whatever the baby was happy doing. Frieman didn't take into consideration my baby, who was screaming because I took him from the sandbox and swings. I am not being a lazy mom of more than one child. To Frieman, I am acting in the most disruptive way possible.

One of my favorite articles addressing this situation was written on the NYTimes.com Parenting Blog. In her article, To the Mom Who Can’t Stop Following Her Child Around the Playground, Laurie Kilmartin addresses helicopter parents. While Kilmartin sits on the bench reading on her phone, another child’s mother is hovering over their two children as they play together. When Kilmartin’s child dumps sand on the helicopter mom’s kid, the helicopter mom shoots her a dirty look as if to say, “Why aren’t you jumping up immediately to remedy this situation?” Kilmartin remains calm. She calls her child’s name, gives her “the look,” and tells her to knock it off and apologize. The child had realized what she did wrong and offered a heartfelt apology.

Yelling at the playground is not a bad thing. Oh sure, don’t carry on a conversation. No one needs to know all of your business.

There was no long talk. There was no conference between parents about how to handle the situation. The kid knew she was wrong, apologized and both children went back to playing happily together. The author went back to her phone and monitoring her child from the bench to give her kid space, while helicopter mom continued to stress out and hover. Who’s kid do you think just learned more about conflict resolution?

Yelling at the playground is not a bad thing. Oh sure, don’t carry on a conversation. No one needs to know all of your business. If you need to say more than a sentence, ask your child to walk over to you and the happily playing baby.

RELATED: Yelling at the Kids. Should We?

I took a very unscientific survey of my friends on Facebook to see whether I was the only yelling mom out there. At least 20 people responded that, of course, they yell to their kids at the playground. Why wouldn’t they? It seems I’m not alone.

Do you yell to your child at the playground?

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