Jeremy Olson writes about children and families, and is an overscheduled father of two. His blog tackles the best and worst of parenting, families, health and love. He wants to hear from you - what's going on in your house?

To helicopter or not to helicopter? The parent playground question ...

Posted by: Jeremy Olson Updated: February 20, 2012 - 1:15 PM

Friday's story on the recalled playground slide was interesting, but this was one of the occasions in which I found the reader comments even more delicious. (And that's no slight to reporter Paul Walsh. Great job on the story.)

Playground safety really seems to strike an emotional chord with readers. Parents only had to take one look at a picture of the recalled slide and wonder who would have green-lighted such a contraption in the first place (I took to calling it "Aerosmith: The Slide," because it oddly reminded me of Steven Tyler's tongue.)

 

 

From reader cuban78: "My 4-year-old son wanted to ride this slide at a playground last summer after T-ball. There's no sign on it that has an age recommendation -- it's just there on the elementary school playground. I have to say that I was pretty nervous to see him use it -- it's a tricky transition at the top, and there's no instructions, so the kids try to ride it like a regular slide, with their feet on the track instead of along the sides like the kid in the photo. Needless to say, I held his hand the whole way down and he wasn't interested in using it again."

But then there were the commenters recalling the playgrounds and playtimes of their youth -- including the metal jungle gyms and other contraptions erected in a pre-litigation world.

From reader mmcgrane: "Geez, what a bunch of whiners (want some cheese) ... When I was growing up in the '60s our playground was in the parking lot of the fire dept, which was asphalt. We fell, we got up and moved on. Quit coddling kids all the time."
 
And then there were the commenters saying that parents should, in fact, coddle their kids all the time.
 
From reader dorkeemn: "I guess they aren't going to allow any posts on here that are in favor of the company or design. If you look at the photo -- there are HANDLES for the kid to hold on to. The photo also shows a parent standing by the kids watching them. Wonder how many of the injured kids's parents where watching them?"
 
So what's a parent to do? Hover while their kids attempt every challenge on the playground? Give the kids space and a little risk as they navigate slides and swings and monkey bars? (I'm mindful of a prior blog suggesting that children are losing out by not having more risk in their playground experiences.) Parents, post your thoughts. When your little kids are at the playgrounds, when do you decide to hover and when do you decide to give the kids space?

 

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