Super Sitter: Playing outdoors

Some of your daytime sitting may include playing outdoors with the children. Outdoor play equipment -- swings, seesaws and slides -- can be fun, but can be dangerous too. Play safety can be taught to even the youngest toddlers.

Children often do the unexpected on playground equipment. They are naturally and normally curious and adventuresome. Standing in a swing is "bigger and better" than sitting in one. Climbing to the top, sitting or swinging on it shows great daring. Little ones are unaware of risk ... often jumping off or in front of swings, seesaws or gliders. They may walk in front or in back of a moving swing. In an atmosphere of "the more the merrier," they may overload any one piece of equipment and tip the entire structure. Hanging "rings" are particularly dangerous to small children whose heads may be small enough to go through the ring, turning it into a hanging "noose."

All children should be supervised when playing on this kind of equipment. They should be told to sit in the center of a swing. Explain the following hazards: walking in front or in back of a swing; pushing other children off of the swing; swinging empty seats; twisting the swing chains; and, climbing up the front of the slide. Roughhousing, overloading equipment and misuse can be curbed from the start if you're there supervising their play.

Older children can be taught certain safety rules and why they are important. Asking them to assist you in supervising the younger ones will help them to understand these rules better. Dangerous roughhousing, stunts, overloading, abuse and misuse of equipment and showing off are unacceptable.


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