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Playground Vent

post #1 of 178
Thread Starter 
We live in a somewhat uppity suburban town which drives me crazy (hence why we're selling the house and trying to move rural)but it comes with a very nice, clean park and playground for the kids. I try to take DS there twice a week just so he has access to kids. He's not in school yet and the poor kid spends all of this time with adults.

But I HATE the stupid playground. I find it stressful and I usually end up leaving so tense and upset and wondering what i should have done differently.

Here's why:
90% of the kids at the playground are there with nannys. The nannys all gather on two benches and gab and read and laugh and do anything and everything other than watch the kids they are there with. The remaining 10% are moms who are doing the same thing on another group of benches. Most of the kids there are between the ages of 18 months and 5 years. So in other words a yound enough crowd that supervision is required.

And then there's me- the weirdo mom who plays with her child or keeps a close watchful eye from a distance to let him explore and/or play with the other children. I don't hover but I keep close- those sand fights can break out in a matter of seconds...

But it's stressful. I end up being the ONLY adult offering any kind of supervision.

My DS I should mention is a very sensitive and easy going child. He will be the one the bully pushes down. He will be the one who gets his toy snatched from his hands by the agressive child. And he sort oof just takes it in stride. Frankly, we're working on having him stick up for himself but it's such a confusing lesson.

So anyway....here's a perfect example of my frustration today.

DS was given a whole bunch of new toys to play in the sandbox with. We marked them with our last name and DS was fully aware that when we bring the toys to the sandbox, he has to share because often we've used other kids toys. No problem. Off we go.

5 minutes after we're there 3 other children show up. One girl brings her own batch of sand toys, and two others just dive right in and take DS's toys. All nannys go sit on the nanny bench on the opposite end of the playground. Within minutes the kids are grabbing toys out of DS's hands and refusing to share, one is throwing sand, the other is getting territorial about hole she's digging and is screaming at anyone who comes within her vicinity. Ds is sort of getting the brunt of all of this. What choice do I have but to constantly remind the kids not to throw sand, to share, and to take turns, and to speak nicely to each other? And at the same time encourage my own son to NOT let the kids snatch toys from his hands while at the same time encouraging him to share? Meanwhile the other kids won't share the things they brought with them and pile them up and block them from anyone who tries to go near them. So then I feel like well fine, why should my DS have to share if that's how it's going to be? It's like...my head is spinning...and then I'm looking around for SOMEONE to back me up or step in and all I see are nannys or moms having a good old time yucking it up on the other end of the park.

If it's not this scenario, it's something else.

I've tried taking DS to other playgrounds but he likes this one because the other ones all mostly have big kids, or so he says.

Anyway, just venting becaseu I left today feeling stressed again and wondering if I should have handled things differently. Ds always seems to have a good time regardless and always asks to return but I"m the one who gets so frustrated.
post #2 of 178
In that situation I would be a lot more blunt with the other kids, but I'm like that. "You are being rude and if you don't stop you cannot use our toys." Or "If you will not share your toys then you have no need to share our toys. Go play with your own."

I'm really oriented towards not being stepped on though. It's a big deal to me that my kids not get used to being stomped on. Boundaries are a big deal and hard to learn.
post #3 of 178
I'm that parents sitting back and watching my children (2 and 5) play on their own. The playground here is made for very young children. I tend to let them play one their own (free play) and only intervine when they need something or they are doing something they can't/shouldn't do on their own. Of course if they want me to play with them I'm there too, but that doesn't happen much lol

DD#1 is out going and extreamly independent, always has been, and actually gets really upset if I get into her space. DD#2 is more sensitive and shy. She'll come running back to me often just to be assured I am still there, but I find she plays better on her own then she does with me. Like she's holding back.

I don't know if this is why the other adults in the park do that, but its pretty common here. Wish I had advice you wanted to hear for you. I would mostly just suggest don't get stressed out by it. You can't control what everyone else is doing and you are not responsible for the other children. Keep doing what you find works for you

Maybe I'm just a bad mom but thats how we were raised too. I also let my kids play outside in the back yard for a few minutes at a time if I need to do something, like got to the bathroom, or make lunch or whatever else. Its all I've ever known and it seems to work for the girls. They play on their own inside pretty well too, while I cook, or do laundry (DD#1 loves to help now ) or just need 5 minutes of down time.
post #4 of 178
I would try a different playground, even if it's out of the way - it could be a little adventure.
post #5 of 178
I don't go onto the playground with my children unless needed. TBH, when I see parents "supervising" right on top of the kids, it usually feels more like they're about controlling everything and everyone, rather than just there to let their children explore.

As for the specific instances you mentioned -
I don't blame a child for getting upset if she's digging a hole and others are filling it up. It's hard to learn how to do something you want in a crowd.

The sharing (or not) of toys is one of those lessons we all have to learn. I typically let people go if they need to make a left turn, but I've had to sit for 10 minutes before because no one extended that courtesy to me. Still, I usually let people go before me instead of saying, "well, no one let me go last week, so I'm not going to either." If you believe your son should share, then teach him to share his toys whether the other children share back or not. If it's a huge problem, don't bring toys.

Why do you need to remind the kids to speak nicely to each other? These aren't kids you know. You have no communal child-rearing beliefs with their families. Your job is to deal with your child. If you want to tell them not to speak in a certain way to him, you may (though I don't know how successful you'll be), but it's not your place to police the language of all of the other children.

I think you'd probably enjoy the playground much more if you just relaxed a bit and tried to let your son play on his own. How can he learn anything about how to handle other kids if you're always there?

ETA: If you think a rural setting is going to be better, you'll likely be disappointed. I grew up on a farm, and by age 5, we were outside all the time without supervision. We were expected to handle issues on our own as soon as possible without the adults intervening.
post #6 of 178
How old is your DS?
post #7 of 178
I agree with not bringing toys. Things at the park should be communal, and ownership just causes problems. I hate it when our friends visit and allow their kids to bring one special toy -- it simply causes problems.

I also agree with being the "park police" if necessary. I will be that mom that says "no throwing sand" ... If nobody else steps up, I will do it to protect my child.

I don't tell them to share, take turns, or talk nicely. I only tell my child these things.

I draw the line at things that will hurt my child. Otherwise, it is not my business, and I just redirect.

I will just encourage my child to go to a different plaything if the sandbox gets too crazy.

You will find these same issues at most parks! Unless you can find an empty one!
post #8 of 178
Thats one of the reasons I try to visit parks on off hours. I have two (18 months and 3) that I take the the park 1-2 times a day. I do "hover" over the 18 month old because shes a regular little daredevil so Im there to make sure she doesn't hurt herself. I don't interfer with her play until she needs help or wants me to. My 3 year old is really independant at the park so Im just there if she gets herself into a pickle (likes tries to go across the mokey bars and ends up missing one) where she needs help getting out of it.

Other kids, I don't really interact with them unless its to stop someone from getting hurt or they are being bullies to another child (blocking them from playing on the equipment, hitting, using foul language etc). If they continue on acting like this I tell their parent they need to do something about whatever behavior that the child was doing. For example, I went one time and there was 3 children on the play equipment other than mine. One of them decided that the equipment was her private property and NO ONE could touch it but her so she started hitting and pushing the other children. After stepping in twice where she tried to push my 18 month old off the slide I told her mother she needed to step in and take care of her daughter because it was becoming dangerous for the other children. She got mad at me but went and took care of her child. They ended up leaving because she wouldn't stop hitting/pushing the other children. Im not afraid to tell other people they need to step up and do something about whatever dangerous action their child is doing.
We don't take toys to the park. If the girls want to play with one of their balls there is an open field near our apartment building that we kick around a ball or play T-ball. If other kids come by and want to play its fine but their parents have to be there. Im not going to be resposible for other peoples' children (the field is near a parking lot so lots of cars).
post #9 of 178
We don't bring toys to share and we rarely bring toys at all so I would have no problem with my dd not sharing the toys and with telling other kids to not take my dd's toys. When my dd was about 3 and a half she wanted to play on her own with the other kids and I too became one of the moms sitting on the bench. Before then I only redirected another child if what they were doing negatively impacted my child.
post #10 of 178
Quote:
I'm that parents sitting back and watching my children (2 and 5) play on their own. The playground here is made for very young children. I tend to let them play one their own (free play) and only intervine when they need something or they are doing something they can't/shouldn't do on their own. Of course if they want me to play with them I'm there too, but that doesn't happen much lol.
Quote:
I don't go onto the playground with my children unless needed. TBH, when I see parents "supervising" right on top of the kids, it usually feels more like they're about controlling everything and everyone, rather than just there to let their children explore.
Yup. That's me as well. Mine are 2 and 7, and for the most part I just let them be. Sand fights don't even bother me, as long as everyone is a willing participant. Just kidding. I think sand boxes are NASTY outdoor catboxes. EEUW. That's the one area where I really do micro-manage. Mine don't go near the sandbox (or volley ball pits)

I get a bit frustrated with the (in my mind) helicopter parents (and I'm not saying you are, just saying I notice the hovering parents more than the other parents). Sometimes I wish we had playgrounds like the ones in Berlin and England, where parents weren't allowed (Actually, I wouldn't go that far. I have to have a visual on my kids at all times. There's an ice-cream truck that comes to the playground that creeps me out).

Here's a cool link to a blog about playgrounds. This page is about a kids-only playground built by kids. The entire blog has some really interesting info on playground safety:

http://publicworkshop.us/?p=194
post #11 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
In that situation I would be a lot more blunt with the other kids, but I'm like that. "You are being rude and if you don't stop you cannot use our toys." Or "If you will not share your toys then you have no need to share our toys. Go play with your own."

I'm really oriented towards not being stepped on though. It's a big deal to me that my kids not get used to being stomped on. Boundaries are a big deal and hard to learn.
If a kid is non-verbal, I'd let them have a toy, but I'd tell the older kids to back off.

Also, as the only supervising parent, I'd encourage all the kids to sit right down in the sandbox and get as sandy as possible. But I'm not a nice person.
post #12 of 178
I really only watch (and somewhat follow around) my youngest, age 3, on the playground when we are on the higher big-kid ones (he likes to follow his older siblings, aged 5-9). Otherwise, I'm right there on the bench trying to relax. I don't actually climb on the equipment, though... DH does at times. Not sure about the toys and sand thing, as we don't tend to frequent parks with sandboxes (hey, our backyard is basically sand/dirt - they can play here), and the only things we tend to bring to the park are balls or kites.
post #13 of 178
Yeah, I think you're going to find the same behavior at cool urban or folky rural that you do at "uppity suburban" parks. Sorry.

That being said, I draw the line at dangerous things that involve my child. If some kid wants to throw sand on himself (seen it) then that's fine. If he wants to toss sand in my kid's face, I will intervene (BTW, don't be surprised if people get off the bench to come see why some stranger is talking to their kid). I don't play with my kid on the playground because I've never liked playing on playgrounds and my presence has never been requested. If my kid wanted me to play with them on the equipment, I'd probably do one game or so, but...when they were younger, esp. it was nice for my kids to get to run, scream, and play in a safe place where they could feel wild and "free".

I can totally understand being upset when another kid terrorizes your kid. But frankly, what other parents are doing and whether or not the kids are with nannies or moms--isn't your business and is a waste of your energy getting steamed about.
post #14 of 178
Kids go to the park to play with kids, not thier nannies or parents.
I sit back and watch, unless there is a safety issue.
post #15 of 178
That does sound very irritating.

And I think that the posters who said that you had high expectations were being a little unfair. Your child is a toddler, right? I don't think toddlers should be left to play alone by themselves in many circumstances, and they are often going to react to awkward social situations with aggression. That's just the nature of the little beasties! Letting a 5 yo roam around a rural property by himself or with other 5 yos or siblings is waaaay different than plunking five kids under age four down together in a sandbox with limited toys.
post #16 of 178
I only take sand toys to public places if DS is OK with them not being seen again, not brand new special ones, those are for the sand table at home or the bathtub. If I can, I sit on the bench. I only interfere with other peoples kids if there is an immediate chance of injury (I once caught a kid who was falling off a firepole, I stopped a toddler who stepped on a budgie at the zoo, etc.)

Sure, if DS starts grabbing or hitting or some such I will get up and correct what's going on, but as long as everyone looks happy the play ground is his opportunity to play with other kids or by himself. When he wants to play with mommy, we can do that in the yard.

I say, go sit on the bench and meet those other mommies, you might discover they are a lot less uptight than you thought .
post #17 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
I say, go sit on the bench and meet those other mommies, you might discover they are a lot less uptight than you thought .
Seeing as they're sitting away from the nannies, I wouldn't hold my breath on that one.
post #18 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by BunnySlippers View Post
Kids go to the park to play with kids, not thier nannies or parents.
I sit back and watch, unless there is a safety issue.
It's 18 month olds to 5 year olds. There is a safety issue, period. Especially if you've got some 2-3 year olds in the phase of hitting to ask for a toy stage.
post #19 of 178
I leave our little playground when things get crazy. I also try to go at times when it's empty, intentionally. (but then this is a neighborhood playground and I have a 19 mo. old--it's really small, and I prefer my baby not get knocked out because he got hit by a pre-teen kid on the swings.) Foul language, throwing of rocks, all things I make sure my kids don't do, we leave if somebody else is doing it. (gravel, not sand, so it's painful little rocks to throw. ugh. I miss sand.)
post #20 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
Yeah, I think you're going to find the same behavior at cool urban or folky rural that you do at "uppity suburban" parks. Sorry.
Not IME. All the city parks around here have parents supervising the under 3 set up close and giving verbal feedback to the well-socialized 4 and 5 year olds. They don't necessarily follow the older kids around, but they move around to different benches/grass depending on where their kids are.

Older kids do sort of roam free, but after being guided in their early years they're more likely to push a little kid on a swing than push them off a slide.
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