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Toddler Talk: The Playground

“Wheeeeee!” I exclaimed as I held my fifteen month old toddler, sliding him down the slide in our local playground. I was standing next to the slide, arms outstretched to the side, holding his little body on firmly. I was scooting him down the slide slowly but steadily.

As he slid down, his oversized head fell backward and his face was upturned towards the sky. I could see then that he was somewhat smiling, but mostly terrified.

Hmmm… too soon perhaps?

When I put him down on the ground at the base of the slide, he immediately started to try to climb up the slide from the bottom.

“Do you want to do it again?” I asked, a little unclear if this was actually fun for him or if I just thought it should be fun for him.

He ignored me, trying desperately to climb up the slide to reach the top.

“Let’s go this way,” I said, picking him up and carrying him to the top again.

“Wheeee!” I said again, doing the same as before. This time, the look of terror was less so and the look of joy was more apparent. I guess this was fun for him!

Playgrounds are an essential part of childhood play. Whether in your community, at the park, or at school, your child will encounter a playground. Using slides, swings, and climbing structures are a great way for children to show off their motor skills, get exercise, and learn important social skills such as taking turns and standing in line.

It may be hard for you as a parent to watch an aggressive six-year old cut in front of your toddler on the slide. However, your child is learning playground “street smarts” and how to navigate in a world that is not necessarily centered on his needs and wants.

Try to give your child an opportunity to play in an age-appropriate playground with other children. For toddlers, these would include small climbing structures. Toddler-sized slides and swings are also appropriate. Always supervise your child, especially if he has access to larger equipment that may not be toddler-proofed and make sure that the ground underneath is soft and padded for children.

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