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I would like to get some perspective on playground sharing when the playground is DESIGNED FOR 5-12 YO KIDS (there's a small label on the equipment, and it's pretty obvious from the design...). There's a couple of awesome playgrounds in our neighborhood that my 6 yo high-energy DS really likes, but it seems like they're only used by toddlers when we end up there. Our area is full of stay-at-home moms so we haven't had much luck in finding a good time to use the playgrounds.



We end up leaving after a few minutes that I spend, for the most part, on stressing about the toddlers and reminding DS not to bump into them. His behavior is absolutely within normal, though he's on the fast and active end of the spectrum. When he plays with kids his age at recess, especially with boys with his energy levels, they all seem to be bumping into each other fairly regularly (playing tag on the structures, etc.) and somehow everyone's been safe, but of course this level of activity would be very risky around small kids.



Last weekend, a toddler's mom told DS to be careful when running around her baby (who was definitely under 2 and exploring the highest platform full of gaping holes, I'd say over 6 feet high). This equipment is not safe for the very young children in general.



While I see that it's fun for the very small kids to explore such huge structures, I don't think it's the best use of these community resources - older kids need to be able to use these structures (designed for their age group) relatively freely to spend their energy, practice skills and explore limits. I think it's super important to insist on sharing and making sure my kid is considerate of others' safety and needs, but these particular playgrounds have a different role to play. There are several smaller play areas for toddlers not far at all, and one of these playgrounds has a separate section for kids under 5.


I'd say it's becoming a fairly significant issue for us as DS lacks this kind of stimulation after several aborted trips... He's been looking for opportunities to climb on anything he can find at home and outside and this is not safe. He plays different sports and bikes a lot, but it seems like an age-appropriate playground is a real need for him. I can't really sign him up for activities now as we have very little wiggle room in terms of timing and besides I feel at his age he should be able to enjoy unstructured play in the neighborhood.


The people I discussed this with think it's pretty simple and that the toddler's parents are staying at their own risk. When confronted, they will remind their older kids to be careful but they're not convincing at all and end up randomly yelling "be careful", "slow down", "be gentle with the baby" ... This pretending isn't really for me, though it seems to be working (frustrated toddler parents leave silently cursing the useless parents of older kids)...



I think that next time someone expresses concern to one of us, I will politely point out the label and purpose of the playground, then remind DS to try to pay attention to the small child while continuing his play but say to the parent that it may not be safe to leave their tot there. Of course, I would hate for something to happen so we will probably still end up leaving... I'd like some insights into how this can be viewed. Am I being too literal in my interpretation of the age range? Is this mostly an indication for safety with toddlers having equal access "rights" at all times?
 

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This is the problem with today's litigation-friendly playgrounds! It's too easy for the littles to climb to the time without much effort...then they get up there and everyone has to be on guard bc they are not developmentally mature enough to be up there.

How much better the old school monkey bars were. You couldn't get to the top until you were big and strong enough, and more importantly, mature enough to hold your own with everyone else.

Plus, all the running was done on the ground. Now these giant plastic structures allow running around 8 ft in the air, with gaping holes at every end of the bridges.

Is there somewhere with a lot of climbable tress where your son can play?
 

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I personally think you should do as you suggested. It is up to the parent of the younger child to monitor them in age inappropriate playgrounds if they are bringing them there. So, I don't see the issue with pointing it out to them and letting them know that while you are doing your best to have your child watch out for toddlers, they need to make sure their toddler keeps clear of areas they could fall, etc. If the toddler can't do that, then they can't handle that specific playground (point out the label) equipment.
 

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all I can say

Is that I took my son to lots of play gyms with mixed ages and no-one ever got hurt by some kind of miracle, even with dozens and dozens of bodies hurtling off walls and powering ride on toys randomly at great speed with the littler kids as the obstacle course. The only times my son got hurt by other kids in these situations were times (rare) when they actually were trying to hit/hurt him. I never left my son unsupervised even though I might step back a bit, just in case. At the playground we went to regularly we all got know each other eventually, and it was acceptable to gently intervene as much as it was OK to share toys brought to the park.
 

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I totally concur that the "big kid" play equipment should be made too hard for toddlers to get onto. The playground can be such a no-win situation. There are big kids hurtling around on the toddler structure, and I spend half my time plucking my toddler away from the big kid structure while she screams.

Thing is, I really do think it's important for the older kids to have a space where they can really get their energy out. I generally will go up with my toddler early in the day when there aren't many people, but take her down when more kids show up. Then we retreat to the sandbox for a while.

Anyway, I believe that big kids have the "right of way" on the 5 - 12 structure and toddler parents don't have the right to be annoyed by boisterous older children at the playground.

But overall I wish there was a clearer division of difficulty between the toddler and bigger kid play areas.
 

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I would like to get some perspective on playground sharing when the playground is DESIGNED FOR 5-12 YO KIDS (there's a small label on the equipment, and it's pretty obvious from the design...). There's a couple of awesome playgrounds in our neighborhood that my 6 yo high-energy DS really likes, but it seems like they're only used by toddlers when we end up there. Our area is full of stay-at-home moms so we haven't had much luck in finding a good time to use the playgrounds.



We end up leaving after a few minutes that I spend, for the most part, on stressing about the toddlers and reminding DS not to bump into them. His behavior is absolutely within normal, though he's on the fast and active end of the spectrum. When he plays with kids his age at recess, especially with boys with his energy levels, they all seem to be bumping into each other fairly regularly (playing tag on the structures, etc.) and somehow everyone's been safe, but of course this level of activity would be very risky around small kids.



Last weekend, a toddler's mom told DS to be careful when running around her baby (who was definitely under 2 and exploring the highest platform full of gaping holes, I'd say over 6 feet high). This equipment is not safe for the very young children in general.



While I see that it's fun for the very small kids to explore such huge structures, I don't think it's the best use of these community resources - older kids need to be able to use these structures (designed for their age group) relatively freely to spend their energy, practice skills and explore limits. I think it's super important to insist on sharing and making sure my kid is considerate of others' safety and needs, but these particular playgrounds have a different role to play. There are several smaller play areas for toddlers not far at all, and one of these playgrounds has a separate section for kids under 5.


I'd say it's becoming a fairly significant issue for us as DS lacks this kind of stimulation after several aborted trips... He's been looking for opportunities to climb on anything he can find at home and outside and this is not safe. He plays different sports and bikes a lot, but it seems like an age-appropriate playground is a real need for him. I can't really sign him up for activities now as we have very little wiggle room in terms of timing and besides I feel at his age he should be able to enjoy unstructured play in the neighborhood.


The people I discussed this with think it's pretty simple and that the toddler's parents are staying at their own risk. When confronted, they will remind their older kids to be careful but they're not convincing at all and end up randomly yelling "be careful", "slow down", "be gentle with the baby" ... This pretending isn't really for me, though it seems to be working (frustrated toddler parents leave silently cursing the useless parents of older kids)...



I think that next time someone expresses concern to one of us, I will politely point out the label and purpose of the playground, then remind DS to try to pay attention to the small child while continuing his play but say to the parent that it may not be safe to leave their tot there. Of course, I would hate for something to happen so we will probably still end up leaving... I'd like some insights into how this can be viewed. Am I being too literal in my interpretation of the age range? Is this mostly an indication for safety with toddlers having equal access "rights" at all times?
I think when there are crowds, then you are right in your thinking. In your shoes, I would point out the same thing to the parent of the younger child. However, when there are less people, its less of a consideration.

I think of playground equipment like roads-when sitting on the side of a sandbox, a parent should give way to a child rolling their truck in the same space, when climbing up a slide, a child should give way to those going down, and not do it at all if there is a crowd, in play structures designed with certain age groups in mind, other age groups should give way to the targeted age group....
 

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I have been both the parent of the very active boy and the mother with the toddler at the big kid playground (particularly since my 3rd child was born when my older two were 6 and 9!) The bottom line for me was that in either situation I didn't get to just sit and read my book or whatever, I had to be an active participant/monitor of what my kids were doing. We went to the "big playground" all the time because my kids thought it was cool. I did have to keep an eye on things and monitor my son with the little ones, and later the big ones with my little one!

If someone had come up to me and suggested that I not be there, I probably wouldn't have appreciated it.' I'm generally not a big fan of families telling each other what's right and wrong for them. I assume that they are on top of their own situation.

It is an inconvenience but it just "is." I'm not sure where you live, but finding a natural area where your child could outlet a large portion of energy by hiking, boulder climbing, swimming, etc. would also be great. The playground is nice when it works but I'm not sure how parents can police this for others. Just my humble opinion!
 

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I have been both the parent of the very active boy and the mother with the toddler at the big kid playground (particularly since my 3rd child was born when my older two were 6 and 9!) The bottom line for me was that in either situation I didn't get to just sit and read my book or whatever, I had to be an active participant/monitor of what my kids were doing. We went to the "big playground" all the time because my kids thought it was cool. I did have to keep an eye on things and monitor my son with the little ones, and later the big ones with my little one!

If someone had come up to me and suggested that I not be there, I would have thought 'how rude!' I'm generally not a big fan of families telling each other what's right and wrong for them. I assume that they are on top of their own situation.

It is an inconvenience but it just "is." I'm not sure where you live, but finding a natural area where your child could outlet a large portion of energy by hiking, boulder climbing, swimming, etc. would also be great. The playground is nice when it works but I'm not sure how parents can police this for others. Just my humble opinion!
I relate to your post 100%. I also have 3 kids with a similar age spread and encounter this situation in the playground all the time.

In the OP's defense, I dont think she meant she would go up to a parent out of the blue and police their whereabouts based on their child's age. It was a matter of what to say to a caregiver who told her older son to watch out for the toddler playing in the older kids' space. If this were a constant occurrence, then I think pointing out the age target is fair enough.
 

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I think your plan sounds good. I've seen this from both sides. As a parent of toddlers, I'd only let them on those structures when there was no more than 1-2 big kids around. That seemed safe. But my kids - now older - are simply not able to watch out for little kids if they are playing hard. I'll step in to keep a little one from getting kicked in the head or knocked off something high, but otherwise I don't. I would not hesitate to point out the age range if a parent ever asked my kid to watch out for their toddler, and I have not hesitated to point out to someone that their toddler had put herself in a position of high risk to be kicked in the head (toddling under the monkey bars). It's not the end of the world if someone thinks I'm rude for pointing out that their kid was endangered, but that's not my goal. I try to go about it in a friendly and non-judgemental way.
 
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