Why Do Children Prefer To Climb Playground Slides The Wrong Way?

Have you ever noticed children climbing up the wrong way on a slide? The actions of these kids might seem silly but there's a good reason for it. This interesting phenomenon is just one example of how children use play to learn and grow.

Have you ever been to a playground where children go rogue on the slide? Or maybe we are talking about your kid?  Well, you are not alone since many parents report that their kids break almost every rule when playing on a slide. While slides are designed with steps meant to help kids climb up, sit on their bottom, and face forward as they slide down in an orderly manner, very few can resist the temptation of running up the slide.

But why do children prefer to climb playground slides the wrong way?  Every child is fearless, curious, and explorative. It is only after birth that our social conditions impact and change the original self of a child. It means that kids are never afraid to try out weird things. This is the reason why it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your little one. While rules are important to adults, most children believe that those rules are made to be broken, and that is what they do when they run up the slide.

In this post, we try to figure out why children like climbing slides the wrong way and whether it offers them any benefits.  Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Is It Okay to Let Children Climb Up the Slide the “Wrong Way”?

There are always two camps of parents/caregivers at the playground. Those who are rule followers and those who don’t care about the way their kids climb up the slide. In most cases, there is always a conflict between these parents over who is right and wrong.

The “rule followers” will always supervise their little ones keenly and ensure they use the steps to climb up the slide.  The other group comprises parents who are firm believers in the concept of letting kids play freely and use their imaginations.

But the big question is; is it okay to let your little one climb up the slide “the wrong way”? While there is no direct answer to this question that can satisfy everybody, it is always good to evaluate your kid’s abilities before you agree or dismiss anything.

Furthermore, letting your kids climb the slide up the wrong way isn’t suicidal as long as you keep a keen eye on them. Sometimes, it is good to let your kids play as they wish and do things their own way.

Keep in mind that life has too many rules, and kids still have to satisfy their curiosity and explorative desire. It is not always about conforming to a specific set of norms and values.

The playground should always be a place where kids enjoy maximum freedom and put their creativity and imagination into good use. Therefore, unless it is necessary, try to avoid directing your young ones on how to play on the playground and give them the freedom to do things their way.

As long as their actions aren’t posing a clear and obvious danger to themselves or those around them, don’t always force them to do things the “right way.” It is their time. Let them enjoy it whichever way they like.

Does Climbing Up the Slide the “Wrong Way” Offer Any Benefits to Kids?

Before you start throwing tantrums, you need to hear us out.  The primary goal of free play is to help kids use their creativity and imagination skills, develop problem-solving skills, test their bodies, and enhance their conflict resolution skills.

By free play, we don’t mean allowing your little ones to run aimlessly and cause havoc at the playground. They must understand that they are not the only ones there, and they need to respect the rights of others to play and have fun as well.

However, there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t try to police your young ones. Allow them to learn how to navigate tricky situations on their own and test their abilities. One of the best ways of achieving this target is by letting them climb up the slide the wrong way.

Below are the other crucial benefits kids enjoy when they go up the slide the wrong way.

1. Encourages Risky Play

The truth is that climbing up a slide is quite risky, and there is always a real potential for injury. As a parent or caregiver, your first instinct will always guide you to protect your child from injury.

However, research shows that taking age-appropriate risks offers real benefits for your kid’s personal and emotional development.

A boy in red shirt smiling.
Slightly risky activities help the kids learn how to deal with different challenges in life.

Life is full of risks, and your child needs to learn how to assess different situations and make up their mind whether or not they are ready to take the risk. This is an integral part of child development.

Children who are stopped from experiencing age-appropriate risks may find it difficult to master challenges and develop reliable coping skills for stressful situations. They may develop more anxiety and fear when faced with challenging situations in the future.

2. Builds Creativity

Adult life is full of challenges, and you must always find a way past the many obstacles you encounter every day. You don’t whine and complain because you are creative and can always find your way past tricky situations.

Your child needs to learn the same skills for a better tomorrow.  However, creativity is not passed from parent to child. 

A kid deciding on what color to pick.
Climbing slides instead of using stairs allows the kids to enhance creative thinking.

Your kid must develop their own creative skills in different ways. Climbing up the slide the wrong presents the kid with challenges that he/she must find a way of solving to reach the top.

Discouraging your child to climb up the slide may relieve your anxiety about potential falls, but you will deny your little one a precious opportunity to develop creative skills. Later on, they may struggle to go past even the slightest challenges they encounter in life.

3. Peer Interaction and Conflict Resolution

When your kids climb up the slide instead of using steps, they must be aware that they are doing something unexpected. Therefore, it is their responsibility to take extra measures, be aware of their surroundings, and protect those around them.

They must take time to look at the top and see if anyone is waiting to come down before they proceed with climbing. If they are not aware of what is happening around them, other kids could easily knock them down.

Kids having fun.
Climbing the slides encourages peer-to-peer interactions and helps the kids develop social and interpersonal skills.

In other cases, they have to deal with their angry friends and fight for their spot on the slide. Being involved in these situations teaches your kid how to interact with his/her peers and deal with conflicts.

Such skills may come in handy when navigating the more complicated conflict situations in their daily lives.

4. Teaches Children about Failure

Life is full of ups and downs.  Your kids need to learn to handle different situations as they grow up. Sometimes they’ll succeed, and other times they will fail.

While there are different ways of teaching your children about life experiences, free play offers them an incredible platform to learn about success and failure on their own.

When they break the rules and decide to climb up the slide, they will fall at times, and they need to get back up and continue with their adventure.

Kids playing tug of war.
When kids fail climbing the slides, they learn how to fight for what they want and realize that they should never give up.

They will understand that falling doesn’t mean giving up. When they see their friends climbing without looking back, they will be forced to brush off their failure and try again.

By trying and failing, your kids learn a valuable lesson about life; when you fail, you have to get back on your feet and keep going.  They will also learn that success doesn’t come easy.

5. Teaches Your Kid How to Do Difficulty Things

There is a lot of evidence that success in life is less influenced by a person’s talent or creativity than their ability to choose a path and stick to it even when faced with adverse challenges.

The “grit” or determination to succeed is what separates individuals who simply get by from those who achieve great things in life.

Climbing up a slide instead of using the designated steps is hard. It can be even harder, depending on the steep and what is available to grab along the way.

A toddler climbing.
They fall countless times but still get up and proceed until they finally emerge victoriously.

Some kids work so hard and scramble up the steep slide to reach the top. They fall countless times but still get up and proceed until they finally emerge victoriously.

If they can carry that sheer determination and the “never give up” spirit to the classroom and daily lives, then you can be sure you are raising a real-world champion.

Final Thoughts

While climbing up the slide the wrong may not be appealing to you; sometimes, it is good to let your little ones enjoy their game time whichever way they want it. Don’t always be there to police them and tell them how to do things the “right way.”

Let them explore, make mistakes, and end up with slight bruises to learn hard lessons that will be valuable to them in their adult life. As long as they respect the rights of others, and don’t do anything that risks their lives, no need to panic.

So, will you let your children climb up the slide the “wrong way?” Let us know in the comments section below.

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