Friday, July 29, 2011

The Playground Dilema / BQOTD

Near our house, there is a brand new playground. It's really cool. Heck, it's fun to play on for me. I especially love the fact that the ground is flat recycled rubber rather than wood chips/rubber chips. It also has a really neat variety of structures--as you enter there are essentially two play structures--one has a sign that says, "This area is designed for kids 1-5", and the other has a sign that says, "This area is designed for kids 5-12." Obviously, there is going to be some intermingling between the two structures--Lizzy likes to play on a few of the toys in the older section, and the younger section is the only area that has a (small) slide. That intermingling is to be expected, and not a problem at all.

However, the last few times we've gone to the park, the behavior of the older kids in the "little" kid section has driven me nuts. For example, on several occasions the bigger kids will decide to play tag in that area. They're shoving the little kids out of their way, knocking them off the stairs, pushing them out of the way and cutting in line to go down the slide, climbing up the slide while the little kids are going down, which often causes a tearful collision. Sometimes swearing at each other. Just generally being really rough and not having much regard for the little kids.

There don't seem to be parents around, or if they are there, they don't intervene. My suspicion would be that the older brothers/sisters who are most frequently playing basketball or tanning on the picnic tables were the ones tasked with taking their siblings to the park.

So, the big question of the day is how do you/ would you handle situations like that? I always feel conflicted between wanting to say something to the older kids like, "I know you're just having fun, but one of the little kids just got slammed into that metal pole when you pushed her out of the way. Please be careful," or "Why don't you go down the slide once more and then let one of the little kids have a turn,"  versus just letting them play, 'cause it is a playground after all, and the bottom line is that I am not the parent of the other kids.

What do you think? Is there ever a time or place where we should correct the behavior of other kids when their parents aren't? Is this even one of those instances? What would you do in this situation?


  1. If I were in your shoes, I don't know what I'd do, probably depends on the day something happened. I think I'd have to say something, not to step on their (non-existent) parent's toes, but to protect your child.

    It is a JOINT playground for older and younger kids, but it is a playground, not like you're calling the police on them. :-)

    Hopefully they might be a little embarrassed someone called them on their bad behavior, but who knows. It is hard to enjoy the playground when silly things like that happen. Good luck!

  2. when the littles are getting hurt or pushed aside to no regard from the bigger kids, it's time to say something IMO- especially if it's happening more than one time a visit. but depending on the ages of the bigger kids, it may not work. if they're still young enough, it should freak them out a bit that you've said something, but if they're in that fun age when they think they're tough and invincible, it may do no good and may make matters worse. so i guess you gotta be prepared to leave.

    i do tend to try to get Lovie out of situations like that and avoid saying anything but sometimes you just gotta.

    my "favorite" lately are the igno's who bring their dogs when it clearly states NO DOGS and my kid wants to get all up in the dogs face. ARGH. i stormed out of the park just the other day pointing at the sign and saying NO DOGS very loudly. it won't help but it made me feel better! ;)

  3. Does it seem like its the same rowdy kids each time you visit the park? Or at least are there some repeats? If so, perhaps over the next couple visits you can befriend the kids a little and create a relationship. I often find that as soon as older kids actually meet the younger kid and know their name they are less likely to push the younger kid around and more likely to help them out instead. Of course there are bad apples - and honestly, I don't mind "parenting" the bad apples... but I do like to give the good apples a chance to figure out how to be good citizens on their own :)

  4. I am frequently the playground regulator. My stance is that I am going to stand there and protect my 19 month old from the 5-12 year olds that are playing around her, and if their parents (if they are even around) have a problem, they can come and tell me and we can talk it out. I, however, will not tolerate my daughter being pushed out of the way when she has just as much right to be there as they do. I also used to be a preschool teacher, so sometimes things like 'We go down the slide, not up' and 'Our hands are not for hitting' come out of my mouth without me even realizing it.

    I actually had this happen at a play area where an older girl (who, of course, was too big for the little slide) was going down before my daughter had a chance to get off the bottom, which resulted in the older girl kicking my daughter in the back every time. This wasn't the only poor behavior she displayed and the dad was just sitting there watching it all happen. Finally I told her that she needed to wait until the bottom of the slide to be cleared before she took her turn, otherwise she was going to really hurt someone. She looked at me like I had two heads, but she listened, and the dad just continuted to sit there.

    Basically, I say that when it comes to protecting your child from an injury, you have every right to say something. If somebody doesn't like it, then it might be time to look for a different park.

  5. Oh heck no. I don't care if I'm the parent or not, if the older kids are being that rough, I would definitely say something. I would be nice and polite, but firm. "I know you guys are having fun, but if you are going to continue to play over here, you must be gentle around the smaller kids." And actually, I have more tolerance for the rough play than I do the swearing. The rough play is just general kid behavior. But swearing around younger kids is flat out rude and unacceptable. Yikes.

  6. I say what I feel... So I have no problem repremanding the other children. If the children are doing something they shouldn't be...then they need to know it! Plan and simple! Let them know it Mere!

  7. That's such a hard situation. I'd probably say something if they were constantly running the babies over....

    We go to the "baby pool" on base here and it's for kids 6 and under. This lady was laying out on a lawn chair in the bigger pool area and letting her 6 (?) year old run wild in the baby pool area. He ended up dunking another kid who was younger than him and pushing him in before she got off her lazy butt and did something about it. Meanwhile the mom of the other kid had to tell the bully to knock it off. The bully's mom came and put him in time out and then went right back to the big pool area. Then, within 5 minutes her kid was right back in the baby pool terrorizing again. At one point she was IN the bigger pool ignoring her child altogether!

    I get so irritated with parents who don't watch their kids! It sounds like the playground kids parents aren't even there though.

  8. lol, you're the second one in my reader to talk about playground ettiquete today!

    I have had to say something before. A little girl was pointing and laughing and calling Landon bad names. I had to intervene as her mother/father were nowhere to be found. Landon was upset and crying and I told the little girl that it's not nice to name call. She ran off after I told her.

    If a parent isn't around to correct their child's behavior then DAMN STRAIGHT I'm going to step up to the plate!

    I have only had one mom discipline their child for pushing Landon on a playground. She politely explained to me that he was autistic and has behavioral issues. I thought it was nice that she intervened.

  9. I always say something. Kids at that age are used to other adults giving them rules (especially regarding safety) ie at school.
    I have also grabbed a little girl out of the water at a public pool toddler slide. She came down too fast for her mother to get close to catch her and she started to go under.
    I think it is up to other parents/adults to watch out for the safety of all children. But, then again, I have no problem telling people what I think if they were to confront me about it either.
    And of course, I'm not yelling at the other kids either....gentle instruction is all that is ever really most cases.

  10. I think there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't say something to them. If their parents are not around, they need instruction. I have even gone to the point of asking them "where is your Mom?" when they are clearly disobeying me, and I have even talked to the Mom of the rowdy kids before. Seriously, it drives me crazy how people don't take responsibility for their kids. Ugh!

    I always start in a polite way (like the way you suggested) and then when it gets bad I resort to asking them where their Mom is.

    Good luck, it's awesome that you have a playground that close and I hope you can enjoy it soon!

  11. I would absolutely say something! Especially since these older kids are invading the space for little tykes and there seems to be no parental control. Someone could get hurt.
    It doesn't have to be much- just a "hey guys, be careful with these little ones around! They are much smaller than you and might get hurt, okay?"
    Good luck- sounds like a fun place!

  12. I have no doubt in my mind what I would do. If other parents aren't around I'd had NO problem saying something to these rowdy kids. No way are they going to act like that around toddlers. If the parents are around however, I'd probably keep quiet but try to show my annoyance in other ways. Maybe say to Eli "Sorry, honey, we have to go home and come back when it's safer to play" in hopes that those other parents would get the clue.

  13. As a teacher, I probably have a bit of a different view on telling other people's kids what to do. I don't have a problem with it. They need to understand that this is a shared area and if they cannot play as such, something will be said. In fact, I may even ask where their parents are or who they are and confront them as well. Often times, a person other than their parents saying something to them makes them uncomfortable and they will listen right away. But, be prepared for them to give you attitude back and what you would do in that situation.

  14. Oh man I would say something. I made a little boy take me to his mom a few weeks ago for kicking sand at a bunch of little kids on the baby playground. I made him tell her, and she was embarrassed, but thankful. I would want to know - so I figure I will let other moms know in a polite way. More of a "I know you are a good mom and want want to know that little Tommy here is being mean..." rather than " you awful mother - keep an eye on you kid" type thing.

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  16. I've nannied/babysat/worked at daycares literally my whole life, and my mom did in home childcare, so I have lots of experience with obnoxious kids on the playground!! If they're not pushing or being mean to the little kids, I usually just glare at them, but if they start pushing/shoving/swearing/etc. then I say something. Just waht you said though, something like "Oh, I'm not sure if you noticed, but you just pushed that little boy down, maybe you bigger kids could take your game somewhere else?" Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't....

  17. Would you want someone to tell you if Lizzie were doing that a few years down the road? Let your reaction to that scenario guide what you feel you can do.

  18. mere, i regularly intervene/"parent" kids in situations like the one you described. it "takes a village", right? :) my husband reminds me that this is how he grew up - the adults collectively "parented" the neighbor kids. i have reprimanded kids for using foul language in the presence of my babies; i have intervened/helped 'referee' or mediate problematic scenes; conversely, i have praised good behavior of other kids (that i don't know) and otherwise reinforced the positive as readily as i correct the "negative."

  19. I am all for gentle reminders. 'oops, watch out for the little ones, they cant move out of your way as fast as you can! Why dont you run over there...' Stuff like that. I mean, if it were my child I wouldnt be offended if someone said something like that. Granted, I also hope my children will think a little more about other kids, but Im sure there will be times that they could use redirection from any responsible adult, you know?

  20. It takes a village to raise a child. To me, that means say something and deal with the consequences if that child's parent feels they need to say something. Kids don't always know what they're doing, or how their actions affect others.


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