Emme Nye describes herself as “that annoying mom," who allows her kids to climb slides.
“I’m so passionate about it, I will get in verbal disagreements at the park with parents about why,” Nye, 29, shared in a TikTok video.
“Really love watching slide climbers get rocked by a kid flying down,” one person commented on Nye's clip.
Added another, “It drives me crazy when moms let kids do this because when my kids waited patiently to go down, those kids were always in the way.”
Other responses included, “selfish and entitled,” and “super annoying.” But plenty of TikTokers came to Nye’s defense. As one occupational therapist wrote, “the teachers don’t like that I encourage this!”
Nye, who lives in Idaho and has a background in early education, wishes more parents would encourage their children to “break the rules.”
"Climbing — or crawling — up a slide helps develop gross motor skills. They’re working more muscle groups and figuring out how to use their bodies. You're not going to get that from walking up steps and holding handlebars," Nye tells TODAY.com. “They're using their hands and feet at the same time, which means they're going to have cross-brain connection. These things are all so important for developing bodies and minds."
According to Nye, it’s also a social-emotional learning activity. For example, Nye says her 4-year-old daughter, Penny, understands that “down has the right of way, they have priority.” She also knows tube slides are off limits.
At the same time, children coming down the slide “should be aware of their surroundings,” Nye says. "It’s an open-ended play structure. I’ve never seen a playground sign that says ‘Children must be sitting on their bottom and facing forward while going down the slide.’”
This a perennial debate. In 2016, parenting Heather Shumaker published a book called “It’s OK to go UP the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids.”
“For my kids, going up a slide is a challenge and risk: Can my body do this? Young kids are testing personal limits because their bodies keep changing,” Shumaker explained to TODAY.com in 2017. “Once they figure out their limit, they stay within it. Climbing up a slide is a way of experimenting.”
Shumaker noted that a slide is also a good place to develop communication skills.
“If a conflict comes up — for example, another child wants to slide down — it’s a prime opportunity for kids to practice problem solving,” Shumaker says.
For that reason, she urged parents to step aside and let the kids figure it out themselves.
“As adults, we want to step in and prevent a conflict before it happens. When actually, a small conflict like this is a great way for children to interact and become aware of others," Shumaker said. "If how a child is playing on a slide is not hurting people or property, it’s OK.”