We love to park hop. Fresh scenery and equipment are always appreciated, and we have a lot of beautiful parks in our city.
When we head to a park as a family, we have a bit of a routine. First off, we need to acquire coffees for the adults. Then, as we head to the park, we start a discussion with our children about how they make new friends at the park.
They tell us how they can introduce themselves to a child they don't know, ask their name and invite them to play.
One of my favourite things about the park is seeing them put this into practice. I see how brave they are to open themselves up to others, and how naturally inclusive they are.
Before getting to the park, we also discuss a game plan in the event that another child who is either playing with them, or not playing with them, is rude or bullying them. We like our children to only involve us as a last resort, as we believe it's really important for them to learn that they have a voice, and they control themselves and their responses to others.
Our rules are always that regardless of anyone else's behaviour, we choose to be kind but firm. As much as we love witnessing their kindness with children, they don't know it is a cool thing to see their confidence in standing up for themselves and each other.
We have run into scenarios where a child is being bossy, not allowing our children to play on certain equipment, or excluding one of our children; and we have seen our children respectfully say "no" and set boundaries.
For example, "No thank you. You don't get to tell me not to go down the slide." In the event they continue being rude, our children know it's okay to walk away and not play with them anymore.
I am amazed to see how having a plan before we go to the park has transformed our park time and provided opportunities for our children's confidence and social etiquette to grow.