Should you parent other children on the playground?

Should you parent other kids on the playground?

In a perfect world, children on every playground would play nice, take turns, and respect one another. But since we don’t live in an ideal world, children will misbehave or even bully other children on the playground. As a parent, what do you do when you see a child misbehaving? Should you parent other children in such a situation? This is a difficult question to answer!

Every parent has their own unique way of parenting their child. Most of the time, parents do not take too kindly to someone else parenting their child without consent. However, there are some common playground scenarios that may require your attention and parenting skills to resolve the issue.

Common Playground Scenarios

Scenario 1: You see a child cutting in front of other children in the line for the slide

This situation is one that’s all too common on the playground. Some children are able to take turns and share playground equipment, but others are not.  One way to resolve this issue is to simply intervene in the situation by telling your child to pick another playground activity.

You see a child cutting in front of other children in the line for the slide

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But if your child does not want to move on to another activity, instruct your child to play nice with the other child who’s cutting in front of the line by saying:

“Can you please stop cutting in front of me?”

“Please let me have my turn down the side.”

Another alternative to this same scenario is to practice a gentle parenting approach with the child who keeps cutting in line. You can try saying the following to the child:

“You are doing so good going down the slide, but we all need to remember to wait our turn.”

Scenario 2:  You see a child throwing sand up in the air in the sandbox

If your child is playing in the same sandbox, it may be wise to move him or her away from the situation. It’s never fun to get sand in your eyes or inhale sand particles. For this particular situation, it may be proper playground etiquette to walk away.

You see a child throwing sand up in the air in the sandbox

Yes, the child throwing sand needs to be parented or disciplined for his/her actions. However, it is more of immediate concern to remove your child from the situation and move on with your day. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing in situations like this.

Scenario 3: You see another child pushing, biting, or more (bullying) another child

This is a scenario you do not want to see on the playground between children. Bullying behaviors that harm someone emotionally or physically is never acceptable under any circumstances. For bullying, it’s important to live by the motto- See something, do something.

In this instance, your instincts as a parent kick in. And you need to intervene between the two children even if one of the children is not your child. When you see a child acting out toward another child, it’s best to separate the children from one another and ask the child where their mother or father is on the playground.

The chances are the mom or dad of the children did not see the bullying behavior occur. No parent would approve of their child bullying another child or seeing their child being hurt. Therefore, it’s best to talk to the children’s parents directly. This way, you are not parenting the children directly; instead, you are involving the parents to handle the issue.

You may also read – How the Emotional Needs of a child affect their behavior?

As a parent, what do you do when you see a child misbehaving on the playground? Should you parent other children? Here are ways to handle such situations.


So the question still remains: Do you parent other children on the playground?

Yes and no. Through these three common playground scenarios, we see there are ways to handle and possibly solve issues without directly parenting a child. For some parents, they become extremely offended by someone else parenting their child.

You can avoid offending other parents on the playground by trying one of the following tactics:

  1. Use gentle parenting techniques to kindly ask a misbehaving child to take turns, share, etc.
  2. Remove your child from the situation without parenting another child.
  3. Don’t parent the misbehaving child directly, but contact the child’s parents on the playground to let them know about the issue.

While you can parent another child on the playground, other parents may frown upon it. There is an unspoken rule about parenting, commonly referred to as “not your child, not your business.” However, when a child is not acting appropriately with other children on the playground by causing harm physically and emotionally, no parent can stand idly by and only observe.

Sometimes immediate intervention is needed to resolve an issue that can lead to potential harm on the playground. Whether it is your child or someone else’s child, you need to parent and discipline.

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    Alpana September 23, 2020 at 2:32 am - Reply

    I have experienced the sand throwing incident and since I knew the child, I had to tell him that this is not correct and it will harm their eyes. Some kids listen and some don’t. As adults, I feel it is our responsibility to intervene when required but yes, we cannot parent other’s kids.

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    Cindy DSilva September 24, 2020 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Oh i have of course disciplined kids in the playground if their parents are not around. I’m strict with my kids and i cannot have them see me letting other kids get away with misbehaviour.

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    Surbhi prapanna September 25, 2020 at 4:23 am - Reply

    This one is an important but rarely discussed issue and I agree we all face these kinds of issues so many times on playground. Though parenting other’s kids is never an aim for grown-up like us but sometimes we have to tackle these kind of situations with mutual understanding specially when parents of other kids are not around.

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    Preetjyot Kaur September 25, 2020 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I loved reading your take on this. Such little incidences keep happening often. I ideally allow my girls to take a call and intervene only when I see that the situation could hurt my children emotionally or mentally. It’s really important to deal with this sensitively like you said.

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    Seema Bardeskar September 26, 2020 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    As u said, many parents do not accept their kids being schooled by other parents. So I prefer letting my daughter handle things on her own as it is important for her to learn to defend herself as well. If kids get into trouble then intervening is the only option to get them off each other.

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    Kavita Singh September 26, 2020 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Oh, this is one topic I am always awkward with because I often end up taking my kid away to avoid any hassle. As far as, bullying is concerned, I couldn’t agree more. One has to speak up irrespective of age because the after effects of bullying can be alarming for anyone. Loved reading this post, quite a different topic:)

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    Ruchi Verma September 27, 2020 at 12:04 am - Reply

    I swear faced few scenario in real life with my little one in park many time and agree that we should follow gentle parenting at that point and handle situation with little sensitivity!!

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    Hansa Kajaria September 27, 2020 at 10:11 am - Reply

    Loved reading this. Yes I do parent other kids while playing in the playground. Mainly coz 1. My own kid is present there and I dont want him to get hurt, bullied or made to wait by other kids. So I intervene when needed. Also if I see another child who could hurt himself, I do go and intervene and say if you do this u will get hurt. Play properly.
    I dnt think this can be an interference if spoken softly and in a good tone.

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    Tina Basu September 27, 2020 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I am a gentle parent, with my kid and his friends. My son is also a gentle child and sometimes when I see him getting bullied, I ask him to politely explain the kids that bullying, fighting is wrong. He has to make his stand instead of me trying to save the day!

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    Dr Bushra September 27, 2020 at 11:57 am - Reply

    There is minute line and parents usually do parenting of other kids unknowingly. These scenarios really helpful in evaluating the right approach.

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    Sanjith September 28, 2020 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Very Good article…Loved Reading this

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    tanuja October 8, 2020 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great informative post,great effort.

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    Mayang Adista Putri December 7, 2021 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Thank you for such an informative article! and yes I completely agree, that it could be a challenge sometimes to not do anything and observe when there’s an issue that occurred at the playground..

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