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Learning From the Playground: How your kids playset can teach valuable life lessons
Don’t tell your kids but they’re actually learning something when they spend their time with their friends on the kids playset. The playground is a microcosm of the adult world, where children interact, communicate, and socialize in ways that continue throughout adulthood.
On the playground, kids interact without the watchful gaze of a parent or teacher. And they learn to self-regulate. They take turns. They share. They play games with rules, and every once in awhile, they win! These moments have valuable impact that can influence them into adulthood.
Most adults who are used to speaking in front of a crowd, or working in teams for a project, learned many of these valuable lessons from situations while playing with others on the playground. These included waiting for a chance to play with the kids playset, trading snacks, and becoming friends with the most popular kid around. Skills like these evolved into adult situations like patience and negotiation.
There are many ways in which a kids playset can teach valuable life lessons.
1. Life is made up of all kinds of people and everyone you meet is a potential friend.
The beauty of a kids playset or playground is that multiple people can enjoy it at the same time. A playground is a great opportunity for your children to meet other people who are different from them and who may have a different perspective than they do, both of which are valuable life lessons that carry on through adulthood.
2. Sometimes, it’s not better to ask permission.
Playing on a kids playset helps kids learn to assert themselves in difficult situations. For example, a girl approaches another group of girls on the kids playset and asks for permission to join their game. She gets a “no” and is forced to move on to another part of the playground and join another game. In that interaction, she learned, that it’s better to just jump in and play instead of asking for permission. This kind of resilience and self-reliance is essential to facing obstacles throughout adult life.
3. There’s always another game to play.
When the girl from the previous example moved on to find another game on the kids playset, she learned that you can always change your plans and find an alternative if you need to. Adjusting expectations and adapting to an unexpected change of plan is a useful lesson for anyone to learn.
4. Play nice and share your toys.
Play nice with the other children. Getting along with others is essential in any professional capacity and will help kids get through life successfully, but especially in the business and corporate world.
5. Everybody gets a turn.
When children play together on a kids playset, they learn the patience that is associated with waiting your turn to use the swing, slide, or monkey bars. This can translate into an adult who respects rules and other people.
6. Respect authority.
The way children learn to deal with authority influences how they will as an adult. If a child has no respect for the teacher or parent who supervises playtime on the kids playset, he/she will never grow up to have any respect for authority. Children who realize that adulthood (and the authority that comes with it) is in their future tend to grow up to become managers, leaders, and authority figures.
7. There’s more than one way to resolve a conflict.
When kids get into playground disagreements, confrontation can be constructive. Issues get resolved more quickly and openly. And whether or not they are aware of it, children also learn that there are several different conflict resolution styles with different outcomes. If a bigger child confronts a smaller child about his turn on the kids playset, the younger child may choose avoidance and simply walk away from the dispute. Often, kids will negotiate to try to resolve an issue of wanting to play with the same toy or game. Regardless of what conflict resolution style they choose, it’s often on the playground where they learn to settle arguments.
A kids playset can teach children a lot about life and situations they might encounter throughout adulthood. So let your kids be kids so that they can learn the adult lessons that will serve them for the rest of their lives.