The vast majority of those parents will allow their children to utilize the play equipment incorrectly with no comment from them. Such as:
1. Hanging over the swing seat on their stomach.
2. Walking up the slide.
3. Going down the slide head first or backwards on their stomach.
4. Older children riding small tricycles.
But Mark, one of the dads, takes a totally different approach. He is socializing too, but he is very aware of what his son, Steven, is doing.
Instead of allowing Steven to follow the other children, he challenges him to do something that Mark has been talking about but has not yet tried.
In one situation, he suggests Steven try pedaling a much bigger bicycle than usual, giving him specific guidelines regarding speed and technique so he will succeed and assuring him he will be watching.
Later, he suggest Steven try to make a basket after raising the basketball net higher. They practices a few throws together and then the dad backs off and watches, verbally cheering him on.
In both cases, Steven and his dad appeared totally connected in their relationship, with both of them earning praise. Steven’s dad has chosen a well defined role and is keeping his message constant.
Did all the children have fun? Of course they did, and everyone left happy.
But the child’s dad who took advantage of the situation to reinforce his teaching/coaching role and challenge his child with great success did something better.
They had fun too, but Steven’s dad took advantage of an unexpected situation to provide his child with his attention and experience.
The most interesting result was that Steven talked about the experience several times in the next few days. The joy in his voice and pride on his face said it all. He not only was proud of his accomplishment, but obviously gets a consistent message from his dad 100% of the time.
Take advantage of every opportunity to educate, support and bond with your child in a positive way.