“Push me!” “Push me higher!” “Higher!” It’s great to hear the shouts of children enjoying outdoor play. But as a parent, all that pushing can get a little tiring and you probably feel motivated to teach your child how to swing on her own.
Is Your Child Ready for the Big Swings?
The National Program for Playground Safety recommends that younger children remain in a secured bucket swing until they are three-years-old. Moving up to the “big kid” belt swings requires advanced stability, balance, and coordination; skills that are still developing in toddlers. If you’re thinking of transitioning your older child to a belt swing, it’s also important that she is responsible enough to hold the chains with both hands for the entire ride and NOT let go.
As an added safety precaution, adjust the belt swing on your play set to a lower setting, or choose the lowest hanging swing at the playground, to start. This way if your child tumbles, it will be less of a fall. Remember, though, to leave enough space below the swing for swinging legs.
Teaching Your Child to Swing
Believe it or not, teaching your child how to swing may not be as easy as it seems. It’s not just the motion of pumping your legs, but also shifting your weight at the same time (legs out/ body back, legs in/body forward). The combination of motions may not come naturally to all children, and they may become quickly frustrated.
Start by pushing your child on the swing as normal, then give fewer pushes as you encourage her to pump her legs. You may need to keep her focused on pumping by keeping up a steady chant of “kick…bend…kick…bend.” If your little one begins to lose momentum, give her a few pushes to get her speed up again and continue to practice.
Another way to help encourage your child to propel herself by pumping her legs is to make a game of it. Stand in front of the swing with your hands held out in front of you, providing a target. Your child needs to kick your outstretched hands as she swings forward.
It may take a few sessions for children to master swinging by themselves. So, if you see that playtime is losing all it’s fun, move on to another activity.
Safety On the Swings
Once your child is a pro on the swings, you’ll want to stress the need for staying safe. This video on swinging safety was created by the National Program for Playground Safety and offers some great tips to avoid accidents and injury.
Were you successful in teaching your child how to swing? Share the strategies or games you used to teach your kiddos the finer points of swinging!
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48439369