The rules of the playground...might be long, need to vent! — The Bump
May 2011 Moms

The rules of the playground...might be long, need to vent!

We were at an indoor play cafe a couple times last week and it seemed that every time DS got a toy, some other kid (even younger ones) would snatch the toy from him, he would just stand there and look up at me. The one time I said to the kid that DS was already playing with it and to please give it back, the mother sighed loudly and snatched it back from her DS's hands and put it down on the floor in front of us and took her her kid away from us.

Then, at one point a bunch of kids were all playing at the train tracks each with their own truck/train but this one kid kept pushing DS to the side and slamming his train into DS's. DS would just stand back and when he looked up at me I said, "I know, he is not a nice kid" some dad looked at me irritated like saying "really?".This kid looked about the same age, it was hard to believe someone can act so rough because DS is so sweet mannered.

And then there's the parents' interaction. I don't know if every time someone says to me that DS is cute I'm supposed to say the same thing back. I know this won't sound nice but, I'm not a kid person, I don't care for other people's kid, I mean, I don't croon over them, and some kids are just not that cute, sorry! Some parents force them to say "hi to the nice lady", "tell her how old you are", I also feel forced to interact with a little person when I have no desired to do so. It's that so mean of me?

 Oh, and don't get me started on the older boys running all over knocking small babies down! 

When is it ok to correct other kids, and if not correct them, defend yours? How do you teach your child manners when some don't have any, what's the limit, are all the toys a free for all because it's a public space? I wanna hear your thoughts, please!

Re: The rules of the playground...might be long, need to vent!

  • Blerg. I hate having to somehow deal with other people's undisciplined kids at the playground / playgroup. Although at playgroup the parents are pretty good about telling their kids no when they try taking toys from DD. DD is very passive and doesn't really defend what she's playing with, probably in part because I'm a PT SAHM and the rest of the time we have a nanny, so she doesn't interact too much with other kids.

    Inside I turn a little mam-bear-ish when another kid just runs up and snatches a toy away from her or shoves her out of the way and she just stands there trying to figure out what's going on. When that happens, I try to first look to the parents of the kid to see if they're going to intervene. Often just that eye contact so that they know I think something needs to be done is enough to get them to say something to their kid. If it's not, then I try to talk to the kid, saying something like, "It's a fun toy, isn't it? DD was playing with it and wasn't done. How about if she gets to play with it for a few more minutes and then it's your turn?" In my experience, the kids her age are a little too cowed by a stranger speaking to them to say no. Older kids (3-4) are a little tougher since they're likely to just say no. Then I'll suggest that they play with it for a few minutes and then let DD have a turn again. I try to keep an eye out for when they're done with the toy (usually shortly thereafter) and then grab it for DD again if she's still interested.

    As for teaching DD manners, I'm still very adamant that she not take toys away from other kids even if they do it to her. I have to admit that she doesn't try very often or very aggressively when she does, but I'll go over, lightly grab her hand, and tell her (in a nice voice) something like, "Honey, that little boy was playing with this toy and wasn't done. How about if we ask him if you can play with it when he's done?" If she protests, then I tell her a little more firmly, "No, he was playing with it. You can play with it when he's done." Once or twice that has set off a tantrum, but then I just pick her up, take her somewhere else, and either distract her with another toy or let her get out her tantrum if she won't let herself be distracted.

    And to your final question - I do think that the toys are a free-for-all in the sense that no kid should be able to lay claim to something for the entire time (they should take turns) or to have "rights" to have a specific toy back if they walk away to play with something else. However, I think that as long as a child is playing with something, they should not have to be forced to physically fend off attempts of other children to get that toy, and other parents should not allow their children to snatch toys away from other kids.

    This is already a long post, but you also talked about being forced to interact with other kids. I'm with you 100% on that. In general, I am interested in my kid and no one else's. I have no desire to hold other kids (not even my niece), talk to them, or play with them. Luckily I don't know that I've ever been in a situation where the parents have forced the issue, but it would definitely make me feel awkward. Just want you to know you're not alone in that.

    BFP1: DD1 born April 2011 at 34w1d via unplanned c/s due to HELLP, DVT 1 week PP
    BFP2: 3/18/12, blighted ovum, natural m/c @ 7w4d
    BFP3: DD2 born Feb 2013 at 38w4d via unplanned RCS due to uterine dehiscence

  • I say the words I want my daughter to say, "Oh she took that toy from you. You look sad. Tell her you had it in your hands and she can play with it when you are done."  If that doesn't work I usually say to my daughter, "Sometimes people aren't nice to us, but we can find others that will be."  With shoving, "Tell him to stop pushing you.  It's not nice to push.  Say stop.  I don't like that."

     I really don't care if people look at me like I'm an idiot.  I use my dang preschool talk and I do it because I hate when I get those bullies in my classroom who haven't been talked through this crap.


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  • image mullenem:

    These situations are tough.  Sometimes I feel like some parents use a playground type setting as an excuse to not watch, interact, or enforce any rules on their child. 

    This 100%! I stopped taking DD to Gymboree open play because the bigger kids would just run wild and I'd have to keep saying "Pls slow down! Be careful shes younger!" to no avail. Then the moms would all stand together in the corner and talk like it was a free babysitting service.

    The public park. Ugh My DD is very friendly. She see's kids and gets excited. I try to encourage her to play with ALL kids. But almost every single time the kids are snotty and doing the whole "im not playing with you" routine. DD is too young to understand. So inevitably she follows them around and they end up being mean to her in some way. I try and say loudly "we dont push. we play nice" but 9 times out of 10 the parents say nothing to their kid. I dont understand that and it leaves me frustrated every time. I hate to sound old but I really dont remember kids being so mean/snotty when my siblings were younger. Kids just played.

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  • I have a problem with stuff like that too. It really annoys me when parents won't do anything about their kids when they take toys, push littler kids, etc. I am right there with my LO when we are in a public play area, like at the museum or something, and make sure she isn't being mean or taking toys and I expect other parents to do the same. We were at a McDonald's play place the other day and I told a boy to not push through her because she was little and then later said to my daughter that I was sorry they didn't seem to care that she was little when like 3 kids pushed by us and one little girl turned around and said "I do care!" Then I felt bad. But still, they didn't have to push through because she was taking a little longer than they wanted to wait.

    I don't know if this is right or wrong, but I am much more likely to correct another person's kid when the parent is not in earshot. One girl pushed her down and the first time I told her not to push again and that we don't push because its mean. Then a little while later she pushed her down again and I immediately got angry and said "Don't push her!" Both times her mom didn't see her doing it and didn't hear my response. The second time I realized I shouldn't have talked to her like that so I interrupted her mom and told her it was the second time her daughter had pushed mine down.... although she didn't get punished, her mom did tell her not to push and was sorry it happened. But she's a friend. With strangers it is really hard.

    And, yeah, there's not a reason for parents to make their kids put on a show. If someone says hi to my daughter I ask her to say hi back, but I don't make her go up to people and say hi to them. 

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