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?