Children develop their self-esteem and gain confidence in their athletic abilities and decision-making skills at the playground. But, how can you encourage your child to leave your side and explore independently? Here are 3 tips to help your child let go of your hand at the playground and explore more freely.
If your child gives a new area of the playground a try, even while you stand nearby, tell them how proud you are as trying something for the first time can be scary. Positive reinforcement will help your child build the confidence they need in order to use more equipment independently.
The more familiar your child feels within an environment, the more open and willing they are to try things out. Plus, it’s common for children to want to copy what their loved ones do. If you can show a child how to sit on a swing without explicitly teaching them how to, they will feel accomplished when they copy your behavior successfully. Take the time to play on various pieces of playground equipment, modeling safe behavior, and your child is sure to follow!
A new playground or environment can be overwhelming for a child. That’s why one of the best ways to encourage a child’s confidence in leaving your side is to slowly let go of their hand. At first, join them in playing on the playground and support them when they ask for help climbing up, jumping down, and more. The next few times you visit the playground, you can encourage them to try on their own or step back as they climb and jump, but stand nearby so they feel safe. Soon, you can sit on a bench with your child still in sight but without needing to guide them every step of the way. It’s okay if your child needs more time to feel safe on the playground, the important thing is to support them in their journey towards playing independently, no matter how long it takes.
We know it can feel overwhelming for both you and your child when they consistently need you to hold their hand or stay by their side as they play. Independence is a necessary but difficult trait to foster, however, playgrounds can build your child’s self-esteem through free play and the chance to take calculated risks in a safe environment. The more your child can experiment with their athletic ability, creative thinking, imagination, and autonomy — the more confident they will become in their skills which will surely lead to independence. An independent child can grow into an independent adult, and playgrounds are a fun tool to help them get there.