You Can Learn A Lot Hanging Around The Playground

If you knew now that what made you popular as a teenager could potentially make you unpopular as an adult would you have behaved differently? I know I would.

Let’s dial it back even further.

If you understood that the simple messages bestowed upon you in grade school, your backyards, and the actions witnessed on the playground were really life lessons in the raw; would you have cherished these pearls of wisdom? Polished these apples till they shined? Looked deeper for the hidden meanings? I know I would.

I feel that perhaps we have all missed an opportunity here. A link backward to a simpler time. A lifeline cast to what is truly important. Intricate threads that weave together the fabric of life’s deeper meanings. A focal point. A spring board of values. Somewhere to place the emphasis. The place where our values were formed in the first place.

Somehow, in our 24-7, always connected, work- life choices, rise to the top, strive to be perfect world; have we have lost sight of what is really important? What is simple? Some basic core values got lost. Nothing fancy. Values we all can relate to. Simple rules of engagement; in words we can all understand.

You can learn a lot hanging around a playground. Here we go back to the basics of human interaction. Civility. Connection. After all in earlier days, what else did we know?

Here is my list of playground observations. Childhood protocols. The ones I can still remember. I threw in some golden rules for good measure.

Definitely worthy of passing on!



A child will always show up as their authentic self. After all, who else would they show up as? Life has not gotten in the way. What you see is what you get. No pretense. No mask. No shields. No war paint.

They are encouraged to dress themselves. Even leave the house like that. Nothing matches, whatever. Boots in the summer, cool. It’s called free expression. Rock on!

They say whatever comes to mind. No filter. No script. No second thoughts. Some even make up their own language; again free expression.

Remember this next time you spend twenty four hours picking out your outfit or replaying a conversation in your head!



A child will spend hours chasing a butterfly. Counting the stars. Giving form to clouds.

Where does the ocean lead? What’s at the end of the rainbow? Are we there yet?

They don’t just show up. Do what they are told. Fit the mold. Conform.

They make waves. Push beyond boundaries. Discover new things. Create kingdoms. Dare to be different.

Gather the troops. Share the wealth. Uncover their hand. Reveal.

Good for them!



A child will make room on the bench. Break a cookie in threes. Bring enough for the whole class. Speak in multiple languages, sometimes made up. Most often color blind.

They don’t care where you’ve been. It’s irrelevant where you are going. They just want to hang out and throw the ball.

Perfect sentiment!


Being Present

Before the days we were tethered to our cell phones, we hung around in chat rooms. They were called basements.

Before the days of texting, people wrote and spoke in full sentences not sound bites. They were called conversations. They happened on the phone and even in person.

Prior to e-mails there were letters. Hand written. A lost art. Savored, shared, something to cherish.

The value of technology out-weights the loss. Yet much has been lost from a human perspective.

Remember, your presence is a present.

Figure out how to show up fully. Face to face is best. Not possible? Be creative!

My tribe lives out of state. We have regularly scheduled catch ups calls. We plug in, walk, run, unload, laugh, cry, and unwind. Whatever it takes, we make it work. A lifeline back, heaven!


Bullying/Mean Girls

Beware, they come in all shapes and sizes, The Mean Girl and Bully. Rest assured all playgrounds have them.

What’s an unsuspecting victim to do, NOTHING!

That my friend is the only way to defuse their power. Their Kryptonite is your STRENGTH. Without your reaction you uncover their WEAKNESS!

Hold your head up.  Find your tribe. Be your awesome self. Move On!

Remember: Every dog has their day!


Shiny New Pennies

Ah, the allure of a new relationship. Excitement of a new job. Feeling you get when you step into your new apartment. The smell of a new car.

We become so obsessed. Think and speak of nothing else. Everyone and everything of past meaning slips away.

Be warned!

Eventually, flaws will appear. The dream job may become a nightmare. The apartment can spring a leak. Your car will get you to and fro on automatic pilot!

Hey, where are my friends?

Over in the corner is a child surrounded by her tribe. The group has continued to grow over time. She is wearing a pair of old comfortable shoes. A jacket with holes she refused to part ways with. It is not perfect, but it is her favorite. She is wrapped in her security blanket, also tattered.

She is smiling.


Emotional Piggy Banks

The Golden Rules:

Do unto others as we wish done unto ourselves.

I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Networking functions are often set with that sheer premise. “What have you done for me lately”!? Whatever happened to “How can I help?!”  We forget that networking can simply fill our cups. Perhaps provide deeper connection.

Let’s reinstate the law of reciprocity! Dust off our Emotional Piggy Banks! Do a good deed …… gain a good deed. Kindness is the companion of compassion. Favors most often returned. They can be equated to coins deposited in an emotional piggy bank. Need a good deed, kindness or favor? Do one! You will have coins at your disposal to take out of the bank when necessary.


Building Trust

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.

How do you build trust? Slowly. Carefully.

It is built on good confidence. A strong piece of advice.

Buckets of tears. A shoulder to lean on. Direct honest feed-back.

You get the point.

Not to be taken for granted. Never squandered. Always cherished. Never denied.


You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset

My rebuttal, nonsense!

I don’t know which teacher came up with this one, but they should be immediately fired! OK, politically incorrect, sternly spoken to.

We are all in charge of our destiny. Our life is of our own making!

As my grown son so aptly put it on his most recent visit home:

Be who you want to be!

Go where you want to go!

Love who you want to love!

Just be happy!

Oh, from the mouths of babes ……..

He learned a lot hanging around the playground.

I smiled in awe as he drove off into the sunset to his grown up life.

About the Author

Joan Axelrod Siegelwax

About the Author: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the CEO and President of Empowered Possibilities/EMP2 Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture. Through creation of Empowered Possibilities/EMP2 Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *