I Let My Kids Run Up the Slide. Why Don’t You?


 playground etiquette

I would love if there was some sort of playground orientation that parents could attend to get on the same page about what is acceptable behavior from our children at the park. I wrote down my ideal set of rules a few years ago, but I’m certainly in no position to enforce them broadly, and that’s fine. They may not even be the right way to do things.

For example, I’m totally fine with children climbing up the slide. If there’s a long line of kids waiting to slide down, then, no. Get to the back of the line, buddy, but if it’s a quiet day at the playground and the slide’s not in high demand, who cares if kids choose to climb up rather than slide down? What am I missing about climbing slides that is so offensive that it must be stopped? Have a few unruly kids who didn’t give sliders the right of way simply ruined it for the rest of us, or did I miss an important safety memo about the dangers of scaling slides?

These are not rhetorical questions. I really want to understand why this is a big no-no.  As I see it, all playground equipment is a little dangerous. Climbing high, spinning fast, swinging wildly are exhilarating experiences that come with some risk no matter how closely we watch our kids. I can’t figure out why running up a slide stands out as a correctable offense. “Climb up and slide down!”  

When I watch my kids go up the slide instead of climbing the ladder, I see them get a look of determination in their eyes as they grasp the sides of the slide. They gain purchase with their feet to conquer the incline, only to slip and slide back down on their bellies, get up, and try again. It’s a game, and they seem so proud of themselves when they finally reach the top. I see this as a good thing.

What makes it so wrong? Adults may have designed slides to be used a certain way, but must it be the only way to play? Children are nothing if not creative and curious. Using a piece of equipment in a new way seems like a great way to encourage this. A run up the slide becomes a chance to escape the bad guys, conquer the castle or take a shortcut to chase their friends. It’s another way for them to develop physical strength, body awareness, and gross motor skills, too. These are all the reasons I brought them to the playground in the first place. Plus, you know, it tires them out.

When it’s not appropriate for them to climb up the slide, they are learning to wait their turn. They’re becoming aware of the environment and adjusting their behavior accordingly, and they’re recognizing that their desires don’t always take priority over the needs of a larger group. They’re still learning rules and etiquette, just not the rules that all parents want them to follow, I guess.



  1. I let my kid run up the slide too, unless there are kids waiting to come down. But, since only one kid can be on the slide at a time (or should be, safety and all that), why can’t the kids going up the slide go first (especially if they were at the slide first), and the kid who wants to go down, wait THEIR turn until the kid coming up is done? Why do those that want to go up the slide have to wait on the others coming down? Since there’s no “right way” to play on a playground, and kids in general have to take turns on things….

    Just a thought.

    • I think the issue comes in when kids slide down, someone else is waiting to go down, and then the kid who just got to the bottom turns around and runs back up. That’s what I see a lot and what irritates me.

      • nah, cause that’s supposed to be the parents saying, “ok, you just had a turn, now before you go up, you’ve gotta wait for the other kid to go back down”. Parents don’t parent so much anymore…at least not in public places.

  2. I love this blog!! I reposted on my Facebook and holy cow, this is apparently the new “which side are you on” debate. GREAT PIECE!”

  3. They just have to be careful! One of my close friends ran up the slide when we were younger and hit her head, so she fell back down… I actually remember the smelling salts and ambulance that came, even though we were both very young. Needless to say, we weren’t allowed to do it at school anymore. ?

  4. If no one else is at the playground, do whatever! If all the kids that are at the playground are around the same age, do whatever! But when my young preschooler comes to play and older elementary school kids come running up the slide she wants to go down or when someone else wants to come down and she’s super super slowly trying to climb up, it’s a no win situation. The older ones just are excited and might not be used to watching for littles. My little is still learning how this all works and isn’t used to big kids. Everyone gets frustrated because someone is in their way or taking too long. Even with diligent parents, it is impossible to watch them at all times. There are enough things to learn about at the playground like taking turns that I just can’t handle the slide issue. So at this point, I say no to climbing up and really appreciate when others do the same when there are littles around.

  5. That’s a tough one because most schools have the general rule that students are not allowed to run up the slides (or stand on swings, or sit on the very top of the bars, etc) for understandable safety reasons in an environment where there are often 30-40 children playing in one area with only a handful of adults to maintain the crazy. So, especially with younger kiddos, it’s confusing to say “you can do this here, but not there” especially if the park is a place where they encounter classmates. Having said that, if, as a parent, you are willing to actively enforce fair turns and safe play at the park, then that’s great. Unfortunately, not all parents engage in that sort of hands-on refereeing at the park, which is what often leads to smaller kids getting run over, others getting hurt, or never getting a turn. Lots of times it’s just easier to give that blanket statement so none of those things happen.

  6. I do not let my kid go up the slide for the very fact that it is dangerous. I know too many kids who have gotten there teeth knocked out or gotten seriously hurt because either they fall or someone came down the slide because they weren’t paying attention or their parent was not paying attention. Slide were not meant to go up, there weren’t meant to go down.


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