Trucks, Sand Toys and Grey Areas at Parks | Toddling Through the Silicon Valley | Cheryl Bac | Palo Alto Online |

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By Cheryl Bac

Trucks, Sand Toys and Grey Areas at Parks

Uploaded: Jan 18, 2014

In a toddler's life, many things are very black and white - If daddy grabs my shoes, we're going outside. If I'm wearing a sleep sack, it's bedtime. So when plans change (whoops! Music class is cancelled today) or grey areas creep in (You can watch cartoons today because mommy has a cold), toddlers can get quite frustrated and confused.

Inconsistencies and grey areas make it a challenge to teach my son park etiquette. Not because he misbehaves, but because the rules aren't always clear cut. The swings, slides, and stairs are suppose to be for everyone to share...but what about the scooters? Wagons? Sand toys? Some adults believe that sand toys are always intended to be shared by all and others do not.

When toys are brought to the park, they are very enticing to other children. And common courtesy is to politely ask the toy's owner if your child can borrow it. But what about toys without a clear owner (scattered sand toys, trucks, or balls)? Or if the parent says "yes, of course" but the child clearly says "no"?

When visiting relatives in the Midwest, we ran into a clever solution. Rather than go through this toy fiasco, they just have a pile of communal toys in the park's sand box: a dozen or so trucks, buckets and shovels. Of course some of the toys are broken, but most are still functional. I don't know how long the community has kept this up, but I liked the solution (and so did my son). No more forgetting our sand toys at home, lugging them to and from each park date (only to lose some) or wondering who owns a toy that my son wants to play with. Instead everyone is able to enjoy the park for what it is: a great place to meet people, socialize with friends, run around and share.

What grey areas do you run into on park outings? How do you teach park etiquette to your children?