The 13 Rudest Playground Behaviors You Or Your Kid May Be Guilty Of

The 13 Rudest Playground Behaviors You Or Your Kid May Be Guilty Of

If you’ve got a restless child on your hands, getting to a playground can be a welcome relief. Your kid can run off some steam and find other kids to play with, and you may even get a moment to yourself to sit on a bench and relax.

But the peace of playgrounds depends on a delicate ecosystem in which all the adults tacitly agree to the same codes of conduct, both for their children and themselves. One person’s rude behavior can sour the experience for everybody — and no one wants to be that parent.

We asked readers on the HuffPost Parents Facebook page and elsewhere about the rudest behaviors they’ve seen at the playground. Here’s what they had to say:

Climbing Up The Slide

“Too many times I’ve seen collisions between kids going down while another is climbing up. It’s also just not fun for kids trying to use the slide how it’s supposed to be used! I established the rule of ‘go up the stairs and down the slide’ at an early age with all my kiddos! — Jessica Baker, Oregon

Dogs Off-Leash

“My 2-year-old was going down the slide and someone allowed their very large and very friendly dog off-leash. The dog ran up the slide, charging in my daughter’s face. She was startled, fell back and cried. We told the woman the dog needed to be leashed. Her response was that fear is a learned behavior and we shouldn’t be upset. Unleashed dogs, regardless of how big or small or how friendly, do not belong at a children’s park. No dogs belong on park equipment. I am a dog owner. I have multiple large and friendly dogs that are on leash in public because it is the law, and it is the responsible and considerate thing pet owners need to do.” — Michelle Krassan

Kids Using Equipment They’re Too Big For

“Lots of times playgrounds will have separate play areas and structures meant for kids younger than 5. This gives toddlers learning to use their bodies and explore the chance to play safely. When older kids play in these areas, it defeats their purpose. Now that I have two older kids and one toddler, I make sure to tell my bigs that the little structure isn’t meant for them. — Jessica Baker, Oregon

“I have two babes, ages 2 and 4. It is frustrating when kids outside of the suggested age ranges play on equipment. If the children are too young to be in a certain area, my children are slowed down. If the children are too old to be in a certain area, my children don’t want to play in that area. My son, who has been diagnosed with social anxiety, often asks to leave when he sees ‘big kids’ at playgrounds.” — Becky Andrews Wright

Able-Bodied Kids Using Adaptive Equipment

“Able-bodied kids using the adaptive equipment, specifically the adaptive swing. I’ve seen people refer to it as a ‘baby’ or ‘toddler’ swing. I’ve seen able-bodied teenagers damn near break them trying to climb or hang from them. It’s literally the only thing my disabled child can do at most parks, and they have to wait for someone to move their kid.” — April Schellman

Not Waiting For A Turn

“Not taking turns. I see so many kids who refuse to wait in a line or take a turn. Kids who cut in line. Kids that are old enough to know better.” — Beth Pailthorpe Enz

Parents Telling Others’ Kids Their Turn Is Over

“Adults that tell other kids that ‘time is up’ so their kids can play on a certain piece of equipment.” — Susan Gustfson

Letting Kids Get Away With Poor Behavior

“I had one child loudly keep telling my daughter ‘Girls suck,’ ‘Girls can’t do that’ and so on — and the mom of this little boy, who was right there, said absolutely nothing. I understand that kids are kids and are still learning, but if you see your child do something rude or mean to harm another child and you just ignore that in front of everyone, without even any acknowledgment or trying to correct it, it’s very rude and also depriving your child of the opportunity to learn.” — Anna Marikar, U.K.

“Our littlest is speech delayed. An older boy pushed her down pretty hard. I was trying to talk to her to find out if she was OK, but the other kid’s parent was hovering over me, saying, ‘Let the kids figure it out.’ I don’t have to let them figure it out. I can ask my little what happened.” — Lynett Croyle

Bigger Kids Intimidating Littler Ones

“We had an experience once when my oldest (who’s autistic and was 4 at the time) wanted to go down a slide. There was an older boy (maybe 7 or 8) blocking the slide, and my son, who tends to be understandably shy, said, ‘Excuse me.’ The older boy said, ‘No, you can’t use the slide.’ I went and asked the boy why he was blocking my son and other kids from using the slide. He said, ‘Because I don’t want them to use it.’ I explained that wasn’t fair for all the kids, and he ignored me. Eventually I was able to find his mom and discuss what happened. She rushed her kid down from the slide, but there was no conversation about what had happened. If anything, I felt bad the boy seemed to be lacking that adult figure in the moment who can have that reflective conversation with him so that in the future, maybe he would choose to handle it differently. He ran off to play in another area.” — Karissa Whitman, California

“I don’t mind big kids playing on the playground at all, I think it’s great — but when they’re not letting other kids use equipment, literally knocking over little kids, using extremely offensive language, loudly discussing sexual stuff … it’s not OK. And they’re usually not supervised, so there’s nothing that can really be done.” — Amy Goodchild

Leaving A Mark

“I was at our local playground with my toddler and saw a few older kids using markers and stickers to ‘decorate’ the slide and neighboring monkey bars. I love the idea of the playground being a place where kids can learn independence safely — let big kids climb up the slide if no other children are trying to slide down it, or even jump off the swings when no one is in their flight path. But in this case, I was disappointed since I knew it would take resources from the city parks department to clean up this type of play.” — Melissa Bykofsky, New York City


“It’s a scene I’ve witnessed far too often — the heartache of a child left out, longing to join in the fun but met with rejection. As both a parent and former educator, this behavior strikes a chord deep within me. It not only fosters feelings of loneliness and resentment but also undermines the sense of inclusivity and community that playgrounds should embody. That’s why I believe it’s imperative to instill in children the values of empathy and inclusion from an early age.” — Courtney Haywood, Delaware

Not Supervising Kids

“Taking your littles and then proceeding to sit and chitchat and provide zero supervision. Now I’m helping your kid come down the slide. I don’t take my kids to the park to babysit others.” — Sarah Crossley

Other Parents Making Assumptions

“My son, always a very big boy, was playing in the local park at age 20 months. Despite a slight speech impediment, he was an early talker. A woman that I didn’t know approached me and told me that she was an [occupational therapist] and that I should have my son evaluated, as he clearly had speech delays. I asked her, ‘How old do you think my son is?’ Her reply: ‘3, 3½.’ I told her that he was not yet 2 and that in the future she might refrain from diagnosing random children in the park.” — Karen Swank-Fitch

Being Quick To Judge

“I used to always get annoyed when I’d be at a playground and find big kids on a play structure that’s meant for smaller children — which meant my littles couldn’t enjoy it. At first I found myself frustrated that the parents weren’t nearby to supervise and help their kids practice good playground etiquette. But I have to say, now that my kids are getting a bit older, I understand more the perspective of those kids and parents who used to frustrate me. Now I see what a great opportunity it is (for both the child and the parent!) to let them practice a little more independence and not have to hover right by them. And I’ve also become more cognizant of the fact that kids (and parents!) might be dealing with different struggles that aren’t immediately obvious — like special needs or even just a rough night of sleep the prior night. So now I try my best not to judge other families at the playground, even if their kids are preventing mine from playing how they’d like to. I know I appreciate that understanding when others extend it to me.” — Robin Hilmantel, North Carolina

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

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