A Roundabout Way To Make Family Park Trips More Pleasant For Everyone

Park trips are great for a few obvious reasons – they’re free, contain potentially hours of fun, and get your kids moving in all of the best ways. As children get older, parks can also be great for peer-to-peer socialization and developing independence in a safe space.

Despite all of those potential pluses, the majority of parents cringe inwardly whenever they step through those park gates. There’s just something uniquely anxiety-inducing about the park environment, meaning that you may even try to avoid park trips where possible.

This is especially true if you have younger children. Then, park trips can feel like as much of a workout for you as they do for your youngsters. And, let’s be honest – no one enjoys being ‘that’ parent who has to get up on the kid’s climbing frame to save their child, only to face pointed stares from the entire park.

But what if we were to tell you that there is a better way? Just imagine your child suggesting the park, and you being 100% onboard. Well, that dream can become your reality if you simply implement the following tips to make park trips more pleasant for everyone.

# 1 - Teach Basic Safety

A lot of parental park anxiety comes from the fact that climbing frames, in particular, don’t always seem built with safety in mind. From sheer drops to rope ladders with huge gaps between rungs, a parent can look at a climbing frame and see a whole multitude of risks. And, unfortunately, those fears aren’t always unfounded.

More than 213,000 children in the US are treated in emergency departments for park-related accidents every year. Most of these accidents happen between the ages of 2-9 and are most commonly caused by falling from equipment onto a hard surface.

Unfortunately, children don’t always recognize risks like we adults do. As such, while you may look at a piece of equipment and consider it an absolute no, your child will likely have no qualms about using whatever is in the park. So, it’s down to you to teach them basic safety from a young age. This should induce things like –

  • Only ever play on equipment with safety flooring
  • Always avoid sheer drops
  • Stay away from rusted or broken equipment
  • Always feel surfaces to check their temperature on hot days
  • Never walk behind swings
  • Wait until roundabouts stop to get off
  • Etc.

Of course, none of these safety steps are a replacement for the supervision any parent should provide at the park. But, when you can trust your child to navigate the space safely, you should find parks a far more pleasant place to be in general.

# 2 - Know how to handle an accident

Teaching your child park safety is vital, but accidents still happen. A fear of this eventuality can be enough to keep parents away from the park for good. In reality, though, children can hurt themselves wherever they are. The main thing about enjoying a park trip is to simply ensure you know how to handle an accident should it happen.

The most common park accidents you’ll face will be scrapes and cuts, so the first step here is to pack a small first aid kit for any park trip you take. This should include antibacterial wipes and cream, as well as plasters and small bandages.

Unfortunately, some park accidents might include more severe issues, such as broken bones, or even falls from a height. This can be petrifying for any parent, and you can’t always guarantee that help will be close to hand. That’s why, if you face debilitating worries about potential park-based risks, it’s also worth pursuing a CPR and first aid certification for yourself. This is recommended for parents anyway, as things like CPR training can make a huge difference during situations like childhood choking. At the park, quickly knowing how to resuscitate a child or bandage a broken bone can also help everyone to feel safer, and more confident to enjoy the fun that even unfamiliar parks have to offer.

# 3 - Encourage guided independence

Health fears aside, many parents dread park trips because they mean trailing a child who insists on bringing you along for the ride. There are few things more painful than standing and smiling while your child zips down the slide for the 50th time. Not to mention their insistence that you trail them around that climbing frame or even, rue the day, that you join them while they’re up there.

These are all normal behaviors for young kids. After all, at that age, the best way to have fun is to do it with Mom or Dad. But, park trips will last a whole lot longer, and be more enjoyable for everyone, if your kids are happy for you to take more of a backseat. Of course, this is by no means to suggest that you don’t still need to supervise any child under the age of around 10 in the park. But, there’s a big difference between supervising your child from a safe distance, and continually needing to be involved.

Luckily, we’ve already covered one of the best things you can do to encourage independent park play – teach your kids basic safety. This will give them more confidence, and will also encourage them to try things without needing to hold your hand. As a result, any activities they do will be far better for them from a learning and physical perspective. Another simple step is to make park trips a more regular part of your lives. You may hate the idea right now, but practice makes perfect here. The more your child tackles things like rope ladders and climbing walls alone (with you close by), the more confident they’ll feel in taking on the park alone.

# 4 - Help your kid to make friends

Along the same lines, helping your child to make friends can be a huge step in the right park direction. After all, socialization is one of the best perks of the park for any child. The ability to make fast friends and develop games together can lead to life-long personable skills and untold creative benefits. Not to mention that it can keep your children amused for hours on end.

Unfortunately, while we may assume friendships come naturally at that age, it isn’t always the case. From around three-plus, it can be especially hard for children to know how to instigate friendships, or how to engage in communal play. This is a vital park-based learning curve, and it’s one parents can encourage in surprisingly simple ways.

Let’s say your child is playing next to another child on the roundabout. It may be that you can see them looking over and wanting to play, but they might not take things any further on their own. At this stage, simply going over and saying something like ‘Hello, this is [your child’s name], what are you called?’ is a great ice breaker, and also a fantastic example of how to initiate friendships. The more often you do this, and the more often it results in fun and satisfying group play, the easier your child will find it to mimic that example.


Parks hold their own challenges for parents and children alike, but the benefits they offer for free are more than worth taking advantage of. Simply settle your park-based anxieties, and make these trips more enjoyable for everyone using these crucial tips.

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