Every parent loves to see their kids having the time of their lives playing with others. Doing so is essential to children’s lives, as it helps them develop their brains, bodies and social skills. However, like with other things in life, play comes with its risks.
Playground safety starts with you, but kids will always seek adventure, excitement and socialization on play dates. You must balance nurturing your children’s curiosity and keeping them safe from unwanted injuries at the playground.
Playground Injuries Are Just Around the Corner
Play is undoubtedly one of the best things about being a kid. It opens up a world of exciting new experiences they can get nowhere else. However, little ones are quite at risk for injuries while on playgrounds.
In the U.S., more than 200,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room annually for playground-related injuries. While scratches and bruises are common, you have to look out for broken bones, sprains, concussions and dislocations.
Children will always be curious and adventurous — it comes naturally and you shouldn’t discourage it. However, consider being just as alert when taking yours to the playground as when you bring them to pools and water parks for swimming lessons or recreation.
Injuries Can Hinder Your Children’s Development
Bringing kids to the playground will always put a smile on their faces. They almost always look forward to playing with other kids because — like adults — they need social interaction outside of their families.
Running around, passing a ball back and forth and using playground equipment is more fun with new children. Since the playground is a gathering place for everyone, it can get crowded sometimes, which can lead to accidental injuries.
An injury can change a kid’s perspective on playing. It can discourage them from trying again and make them uncomfortable whenever they visit a playground. It can also be challenging for them to overcome the trauma if it’s a significantly painful experience.
Children might become more reserved on the playground, even avoiding play altogether. Doing so can hinder their social and physical skills. As a result, they may need to catch up to other kids with a more active and playful lifestyle.
Some Playgrounds Are Riskier Than Others
Playgrounds are a social place, so parents should expect to see numerous little ones running around and using various equipment. Children learn to share with others during their development stages and exposing them to opportunities that can help them discover themselves is essential.
While it’s logical to assume playgrounds are designed to be safe spaces to play in, some pose more risks than others. Thus, being mindful of where you bring your children is essential. Assess if the equipment is safe to use and if there are enough safeguards to avoid unwanted injuries.
Here are some things to consider when bringing kids to any playground:
- Playground equipment has age restrictions. Allow children to play only in age-appropriate locations in the playground.
- Playground surfaces can get hot during the afternoon and slippery after rain showers. Always check them to see if they’re ready for use.
- Some playground equipment can get old and worn with use. Look for exposed surfaces, sharp edges and peeling paint that can injure little ones.
- Always follow playground safety rules. They ensure everyone at the playground has a fun and safe experience.
- Some playground equipment — like seesaws and carousels — have moving parts. Teach kids to stand back from said equipment while others use it to prevent accidents.
- Make sure children are wearing the proper clothes. Dress them in weather-appropriate clothing, and avoid anything that can get stuck in playground equipment, like jacket drawstrings, necklaces and other loose items.
Active Play Is Meaningful Play
Kids express themselves in more ways than one. They communicate what they feel through words but often also do so through actions. Playing lays the foundation for an active lifestyle that leads to healthy all-around development.
Active play is an excellent stress buster for kids. They can release pent-up tension through playful activities as they interact with others their age. One study found allowing 3- to 4-year-old children to play for 15 minutes makes them feel less stressed and anxious about going to school.
Allowing kids to play does wonders for their development. It also allows you to bond with your little ones, which helps create core memories.
A Playful Child Is A Happy Child
Parents should always encourage their children to play in a safe environment. You should be the first to show your kids how playground equipment works and teach them the foundations of playground safety.
Outdoor playgrounds will always carry risks, but that’s what parents are there for. You can simultaneously be proactive about safety and your kids’ development, as both go hand-in-hand to ensure their wellbeing.