Experts Say Playground Choice Matters In Child’s Social Development

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Experts say the playground you choose makes a difference in your child’s social development — and say parents should choose wisely.

But some parents, grandparents and caregivers believe kids can have fun anywhere, just as they did growing up.

“The old ones are just as good,” said grandparent Denise Bostick. “I learned how to play on the old time ones.”

So licensed clinical social worker and preschool owner Nyla Kamlet decided to explore local playgrounds to see how they affect the children’s quality of play.

“I wanted to see if the equipment made a difference in the quality of the kids’ play,” Kamlet said. “Were they more interactive together? Playing together or alone in a more modern playground?”

Kamlet discovered that children playing at more modern playgrounds have a better chance to learn and grow.

Kamlet says she prefers the one on 110th Street in Harlem. At this playground, water creates an element of surprise, bridges and ramps promote motor skills and slides and swings foster balance and coordination.

Kamlet says the most crucial development of these skills happens before a child turns six.

But at a more traditional playground about a quarter of a mile away, Kamlet notices children playing alone. They seem happy, but she says they don’t have the right opportunities.

The modern playground, however, creates a desire in every child, even a toddler, to play longer with children of all ages.

Some of the parents choosing the more traditional playground say they shy away from the other one due to its innovative equipment and risk for more injury.

“We just came from that park and we switched over here,” said Elise Alvarado. “I was nervous with him climbing on the rocks. and he kept asking for help because he couldn’t do it.”

Alvarado admits she goes to the traditional playground, mostly because it’s just easier. But had she’d known which playground you choose may make that much of a difference she’s rethinking her plans for tomorrow.

Kamlet says that as a mother, she knows the convenience is key, but suggests going to new neighborhoods and trying other playgrounds as an extra boost to your child’s development skills.

CBS2 Exclusive: UWS Daycare Teaches Kids Disturbing Lesson About Child Lurings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — What would your child do if they were approached by a stranger? The very question may send shivers down any parent’s spine.

CBS2’s Emily Smith was there exclusively for one school’s disturbing lesson about luring – sparked by recent incidents in the area.

It surprised the founder of the school that all six children fell for a stranger danger ploy. She hoped at least a few would look to her for guidance before just taking off with someone they do not know.

With CBS2’s camera hidden from the children’s view, a virtual stranger and his dog walked up to a group of 3- and 4-year-olds to see what they would do.

“Look at the beautiful dog I have! Come check it out! He’s really friendly! Who wants to him? Anyone want to pet the dog?” the man tells the group as three of the children eagerly run up to pet the dog. “Oh you do? Oh, he’s so friendly, isn’t he?

He continues: “You think you want to go somewhere with me and my dog? Should we go on a little adventure?”

One by one, the kids start to follow the stranger, and not one of them cries for help or asks for permission.

Nyla Kamlet, the founder of the Play Together New York City daycare, said she could not believe what happened – noticing the children who seemed to need to the most attention joined the stranger first.

“Some kids are more shy than other kids, and won’t go unless someone says it’s OK. Another needs a lot of attention and will go with anyone who’s smiling at them.” Kamlet said.

Thankfully, this was not a real perpetrator. Matt Gamage is the parent of a 4-year-old who attends a different class at the Upper West Side daycare.

“I would guess at this age, most parents probably haven’t had serious conversations with their kids, because they may not even think they understand what a stranger is,” Gamage said.

A string of near-incidents this past week on Long Island prompted the mock lurings on the Upper West Side.

CBS2 also reported recently on a well-publicized social experiment by YouTube video producer Joseph Saladino – which also involved a man with a dog pretending to lure children, and kids who were surprisingly eager to go with him despite their parents’ alarm.

CBS2 spoke to clinical psychologist Dr. Harris Straytner for his take on stranger danger. He advised talking to kids when they are 3 years old – and being sure to strike a balance.

“We shouldn’t inculcate a message to be fearful of strangers to the point where they are afraid to go up to a police officer — which we are starting to see,” Straytner said.

But Straytner did advise that you should sit your children down now and tell them not everyone is safe, even if they have a puppy or candy

“The youngster should say to mom and dad, ‘Is it OK if I speak to this person?’ and maybe mom and dad should go over,” he said.

Kamlet is not sure if the kids even understand what could have happened.

“A stranger is anyone you don’t know — even if they look pretty,” she told the children.

Next time students do the exercise, Kamlet hopes to see at least a little hesitation.

In all fairness, none of the kids had been spoken to about the experiment.

According to CBS2’s experts, one child a day per state in the United States is abducted, and police said with the weather getting warmer, more kids are playing outside and more predators could be waiting.