Strategies for the Playground

Some kids get to a playground and run like they’ve never seen the outdoors before, while others may become very hesitant and anxious, not wanting to leave their mom or dad’s side. While there may be several reasons a child struggles with gross motor play, including poor coordination and strength or motor planning difficulties, some kids simply lack exposure and confidence with playground activities. If you struggle to help your child become more confidently independent on the playground, try some of the following suggestions.

Struggle : LETTING GO OF YOUR HAND ON THE SLIDE

Try This : Encourage him to climb up the slide from the bottom so he can control how high he goes. As he becomes more comfortable, continue encouraging him to climb higher before turning around to slide down.

Struggle: CONFIDENCE WITH HEIGHTS

Try This : Heights can be scary for many kids. Have him jump off low surfaces around the park like a balance beam or step so he knows that he can land safely. As he gains confidence, slowly encourage him to stand or climb to higher platforms.

Struggle: INDEPENDENCE WITH CLIMBING

Try This: If he insists on your help when climbing ladders, place only one hand on his body and slowly lighten your pressure so he is eventually using only his own strength to pull himself up. By taking away the support at a comfortable pace, he will likely become more confident in his own abilities.

Struggle: TRYING NEW THINGS

Try This : When heading to the park, help your child think of one new thing he’d like to try when he gets there. It could be a swing, hanging on a monkey bar for 3 seconds, or running around the perimeter of the park without stopping. Attempting one new activity-big or small- each time, will help him feel like he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

BOTTOM LINE: Lessening the amount of help you give your child at a comfortable pace will help him gain more confidence, leading to greater independence.

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