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How to Deal with Helicopter Parents at the Park?

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Read Time: 1 minute

Over at our Raising Independent Kids Facebook group (join here), parents find a non-blaming/shaming/shrieking/freaking/911-calling environment to ask questions about all sorts of childhood independence issues. Here’s one that probably resonates. Feel free to answer below, or in the group!

Apologies if this has been asked before…how to deal with INTENSE helicopter parents on a playground?

I live outside of NYC, and the local playground is helicopter central. Basically, parents here go the extreme of micromanaging how their–and others’–kids use a slide. Yes. Children are heckled to proceed in a stately manner and God forbid anyone rushes or such. Going up a slide is basically a CRIME. Running is too. Yelling. And EVEN kids approaching other kids (I have seen too many parents rip their kids away from my kids for merely approaching them/my kids approaching their kids).

So any parent whose children act like, well, children can face demands to start joining the micromanaging.

Anyway, I have been:

1) ignoring those parents

2) saying very very slowly while amplifying my mild foreign accent “OKEEEEEY”

3) trying to redirect the topics.

Nine-tenths of these parents will grab their kids and flee the playground. I have also had parents yell at me.

What are your best tips for this wonderful situation?


  1. GGwynne says:

    I’m just constantly spelling out our rules and policies. “Actually, we allow him to climb the slide so long as nobody’s coming down.” “We allow and encourage our children to run for physical activity.” “In this family, we’re allowed to yell when we’re playing outside.” It feels asinine to say such obvious things, but it’s an important reminder that they shouldn’t impose their own unique rules on other families.

  2. CCary says:

    This problem is hard for me to imagine, because when I was a kid there were only kids on the playground equipment, with no adults around. I have been glared at by helicopter mothers when I was minding my own business, sitting on a bench in a park reading. And once my wife and I sat down on a park bench to eat our take-out lunch when a Frisbee from a group of little kids playing nearby (closely supervised, of course) landed between us. A brat of about five years ran up to get it, and lectured us that kids were playing nearby and we had no business to be there. We laughed at the brazenness of the little monster, but this is what he has been taught by his lunatic mother. I ignore or laugh at such idiots.

  3. BBen Kieran says:

    This is a rampant problem – my strategy is to ignore my children, ignore everyone else’s children, literally turn my back to the playground and read a book or articles on my phone or chat with another parent. If a parent approached me about my children’s climbing the slide or running or some other “behavior” (of course assuming my kids were just running around, swinging and sliding and playing pretend – ie, acting like normal kids at a playground) I would say that I don’t see a problem and they were playing like I remember playing on a playground. They either relaxed and agreed or they hurried their children off the playground. Occasionally a parent would then try to lecture me about the dangers of running or whatever and I would just reiterate that I didn’t see any hitting, hair-pulling, grabbing, pushing, or any other inappropriate behavior – I just saw normal playground play. I’d ask if they saw any pushing or hitting or violence and they’d always say no and so I’d ask what the problem was. Walking away usually worked too – it’s rare any parent will cause a scene in these scenarios.