“I’ve told you a million times already – that’s not what it’s for. Climb up on the steps and slide down on the slide“.
These were the words from a mother to her 5-year old son in the playground today after she watched him happily (and harmlessly) climbing the hard way up the slide. The child continued playing on the slide, but obediently using the steps to go up and the slide to come down (“conventionally”, as an adult would see it but “restrictively” in the eyes of a child).
Who says that’s what it’s there for? It’s there for fun; for enjoyment; for imagination. How confusing must it be for a child to be constrained in this way? After all, wasn’t the mother (albeit unintentionally) stopping him from having fun? He wasn’t doing anyone any harm – and for him it was more fun to go up the slide and down the steps!
Children already have so many constraints imposed by parents, many for good reason, that it seems unreasonably harsh to impose yet more without good reason. The great thing about play is that there are no rules.