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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Rules For Summer Play Keep Kids Safe

LAS CRUCES -- Now that school is out for the summer, children want to spend more of their free time with friends. But parents need to set rules for playing in the neighborhood, said a New Mexico State University family life specialist.


"The younger the children are, the more supervision they need," said Diana DelCammpo with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "But even school-age kids and teens need some supervision and guidance."

DelCampo said parents should remember three things when establishing play rules -- prevention, planning and damage control.

To help prevent problems, enroll children in some organized activities, where they will have adult supervision. This lessens the amount of time children spend playing around the neighborhood, she said. These activities can include camps, swimming lessons, computer classes, park activities or 4-H programs.

"The best way to keep an eye on your children is to let neighbor kids play at your house," DelCampo advised. Good outdoor space, equipment like a badminton set and even good snacks will draw children to your house.

If children do play at other houses, set up some rules. These rules should include how far children can go, where they will be, and how long they can be gone without checking in. "For school-age children, about half an hour is a good time limit," she said. If the rules are not obeyed, follow through with consequences.

"Parents need to talk to children about what goes on in other people's houses. This can give parents information, and give children a habit of telling them about their lives," DelCampo said. "This lets children know that their parents care about them and that they are involved in their lives."

If children are playing somewhere else, parents should drop in unexpectedly to check on them. If children have been involved in inappropriate activities at a neighbor's house, parents should share their concerns with that family or not let their kids visit that house alone.