Playground Conflict- WWYD? - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > Playground Conflict- WWYD?
isfa's Avatar isfa 03:24 PM 07-12-2010
I was at the playground with my 2-year-old DD over the weekend. We were playing in the toddler area. Two other kids were playing with her, a three-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy. The playground is next to some ball fields, and parents will often let their kids play on the playground while they attend another child's game.
The three little kids were playing together really nicely in a little playhouse. They were "making a birthday cake" with sand and having a really good time. Then two boys came up, who I would guess to be about 8 years old. The boys jumped on top of the house and then would stick their heads down and scream or roar at the younger kids (including my 2-year-old). At first, I tried to play it off. I didn't want to give DD the impression that she SHOULD be scared. But after a couple of times, she was on the verge of tears. I told the boys they were scaring the little kids and needed to stop. They said, "You can't make us." Then one of the boys smashed their "birthday cake" with his foot. We rebuilt it, and he did it again. I said to him, "You are not playing nicely with these kids. You need to play nicely or go somewhere else." Again, he said, "You can't make me." I was getting really mad. I asked him what his name was, and he wouldn't tell me. I asked him where his mom was, and he said she was watching a game. I said, "If you don't leave these kids alone, I am going to find your mom and tell her how you're behaving." He said, "You don't know what she looks like. You'll never find her."
I knew his name was Carter from hearing the other kids, and I considered going to the nearby fields to ask around for his mom, although I was nervous that perhaps she might be as aggressive as he was. I was really blown away by his bullying of these little kids and by the way that he was not responding to my reasonable and polite requests to leave them alone. Luckily, after this exchange, the boys went to a different part of the playground and left my daughter and the other two kids alone.
But I am still upset!
I don't have older kids so I'm really not sure how I should have handled this situation. What would you have said to these boys? Would you have tried to find their parents? If so, what would you have said to them?

Kirsten's Avatar Kirsten 03:39 PM 07-12-2010
Oh, I would have been finding his mom alright! Twice in my life I've done that, and once threatened to but it was unnecessary.

Situation one - at the park a five year old kid walked up to the four year old boy I nannied for and hit him in the chest (more like a hard slap). Totally without cause that I could see. Of course the kid I nannied came to me crying. I lifted his shirt and there was a red handprint - that is how hard the kid hit him! I was pissed and told the hitter "where is your mom or dad?!?!" He pointed and we marched right over where I showed his dad my kid's chest with his kid's handprint on it. They got in their car and left.

Situation two - I was driving near my house. Few kids on the sidewalk. Right as I was getting to them, one lunged out at me like he was going to jump in front of my car. I had to screech to a stop while they laughed and I about had a heart attack. I left my car right in the street, got out and grabbed him (he was probably ten?) by the wrist and said "which house is yours?" He didn't want to tell me but finally did. We went to the front door and I told his mom what he did.

Situation three - company Xmas party. Kids get gifts from Santa then there is food, games, etc. Two eight year old boys were throwing hacky sacks from their goody bags as high up as they could. We were in a warehouse type room with super high ceilings (think Costco ceilings). They were really flinging them up there, and of course couldn't control where they landed. Twice they landed either on us or right next to us, and I had a baby. When he came to fetch it the second time, I told him to throw it lower or to take it outside as I didn't want it to hit my baby. He ran off and kept it up. Landed on us again and I grabbed it. He came over and asked for it. I told him I'd give it to his mom or dad, and to send one of them over. No one ever came.

I think you (OP) need to be a lot more "I am the adult in charge" and give off that "you are not going to screw with us" vibe. With kids like this, GD is not going to get you anywhere. You let them get away with way too much and that kid is clearly in need of a good bit of discipline. I'd absolutely find out who his parent is, and let him or her know what happened. 'Cause someone needs to come down hard on that kid or in a few years he'll be breaking into houses.
crunchymomofmany's Avatar crunchymomofmany 03:47 PM 07-12-2010
I applaud your boldness Kirsten, but personally would never lay a hand on another person's child. And you better believe that if anyone ever grabbed my kid by the wrist, I'd have something to say about that first.

Seriously? I don't know what I would have done in isfa's situation. I probably would have gathered up my kids and started walking toward the ball field and looked for the parents. On the other hand, I may have stood the kid down and told him I could make him!
Kirsten's Avatar Kirsten 07:59 PM 07-12-2010
Honestly, I'd be pissed if someone grabbed my kid by the wrist without cause - but if she did something that inappropriate, I think it is the lesser of two evils. Say the kid lost his balance in the process of fake jumping in front of my car and actually did? Say I couldn't stop in time? Say the next person he fake jumped in front of was turning up the radio and didn't respond quickly enough?

If my kid was pulling something like that, I'd want to know so I could reduce the freedom she had to walk around the neighborhood, be at the park, etc without adult supervision. I didn't have a ton of time to think about it, and my adrenalin was surging after I thought I was about to run into a kid with my car! I just grabbed his wrist as my first thought was that he'd run. His mom actually thanked me profusely - as I would if I'd been her. Someone actually gave a shit (excuse my french) enough to stop. It takes a village. All kids make mistakes. We aren't always there to see and respond. But someone is.

If someone saw my teen at the river drinking, I'd want them to call me. If someone saw my kid taunting the neighbor's dog, I'd want them to stop her and tell me. I welcome that help.
shelbean91's Avatar shelbean91 04:38 AM 07-13-2010
I would put on my best mom/teacher voice and tell him (them) he can take me to his mother or I'd call the police department to talk to him. My guess is mom is either just as aggressive or completely passive - not anywhere in the middle.
PGTlatte's Avatar PGTlatte 05:41 AM 07-13-2010
I would say oh yes I can...and physically stand guard over the little kids - and I would physically block the older kids with my central body (no hands) if necessary. If they decided to escalate that and continue to try, I would give the police a call to visit the park and deal with the young hooligans who are physically threatening little kids.

I also like cell phone cameras. They are good for convincing a kid that you CAN find out who he is so he may as well reveal his identity. I have never actually taken a picture. Just the idea has always been enough to stop the behavior.

I have had kids tell me "you can't make us stop" before...and I have called the police regarding their reckless behavior at the park. Once was for lining up all the picnic tables and riding bikes across them and flying off the end....the other was for riding bikes and skateboards all over the play structure. A big kid physically jumping into the center of a circle of little kids is IMO physically dangerous behavior, and if he won't stop, a parent has a right to defend her kid and report the behavior.
blizzard_babe's Avatar blizzard_babe 08:09 AM 07-13-2010
Do the ball fields have PA system? A nice "There is a group of children terrorizing toddlers at the playground. They refuse to give their names, but are approximately X years old. They are wearing *clothing description* and one may be named Carter. If they are yours, please supervise them" announcement might just embarrass some parent into taking care of the problem, without having to confront them directly... cuz in youth sports communities people tend to know whose kids are whose.
isfa's Avatar isfa 12:21 PM 07-13-2010
Wow, great suggestions! It had occurred to me to give them the option of showing me their parents or having me call the police, but I thought maybe that would be too extreme. But I think if this situation happened again, I would do exactly that. I should put the non-emergency police number in my phone.

Kristen- good for you for stopping the kids who were playing chicken. While waiting at the bus stop as a kid, our older classmates would goad us younger kids to play chicken with cars. One woman turned around and yelled at us. She said (and I don't even know if it's true) that her son was killed after being hit by a car. It scared the crap out of us and we never did it again. I am very grateful to that woman.
serenbat's Avatar serenbat 03:18 PM 07-13-2010
Quote:
What would you have said to these boys? Would you have tried to find their parents? If so, what would you have said to them?
after using a loud & firm voice and getting no place, I would have left the section with my child

I highly doubt that parents that leave their children unattended really care what you feel, I would not have bothered to look for them, I would not call the police (in our are non-emergency would not even have dealt with the issue)- I really don't think (again maybe because it is my area) they would have even announced a request to find the parents

I would simply have left, I would not engage a conversation with a child unwilling to give me his name- if you did find that parents it could have been a he said she said with parents just like the child-brats!
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 11:05 PM 07-13-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post
after using a loud & firm voice and getting no place, I would have left the section with my child

I highly doubt that parents that leave their children unattended really care what you feel, I would not have bothered to look for them, I would not call the police (in our are non-emergency would not even have dealt with the issue)- I really don't think (again maybe because it is my area) they would have even announced a request to find the parents

I would simply have left, I would not engage a conversation with a child unwilling to give me his name- if you did find that parents it could have been a he said she said with parents just like the child-brats!
I think most kids by the age of 8 don't have parents watch them play all the time anymore, so I doubt him being unattended indicates how they'd respond.

I would have tried to find a parent, or at least investigate a bit. Just the investigation might have been enough to get him to behave better. I don't think the police would be any help for something like this, but if this was at a Little League field, the Little League officials might very well have been able to help.
serenbat's Avatar serenbat 11:15 PM 07-13-2010
Quote:
I think most kids by the age of 8 don't have parents watch them play all the time anymore,
and who's to say the parents were even there-

I personally wouldn't bother policing the area for an eight year old.

Quote:
Two other kids were playing with her, a three-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy.
I take it their parents were not near you at the time-correct?
I would take action if a child was in danger (physical harm needing to contact the police), but the doesn't seem the case- these parents were responsible for their own children as well unless they put them in your trust.
confustication's Avatar confustication 03:24 PM 07-14-2010
It sounds to me that you were bullied by these kids more than the toddlers were. It takes time to perfect the 'Mom Voice of Doom' but it's pretty handy for kids like that.

I have an eight year old, and there's not a chance in heck I watch every move she makes on a playground, and I'm not naive enough to believe she never does anything wrong. If she was being a pest, I would absolutely want someone to let me know, and if she wouldn't reveal who I was, I would want the police contacted because she would absolutely need that strong reminder that she is not in charge and can not endanger or antagonize other people. (Honestly, I can't ever see her making choices to get to that point, but if she did, I would want to know.) I also would have absolutely no problem with someone taking her by the wrist etc if she pulled a stunt like that with a car.

GD is great, and it works well for a lot of kids, but it does not work well for all kids. When kids are used to 'do this now or else!' you aren't likely to make a dent in their armor by reasoning with them- at least not fast enough to protect younger kids. I would put myself between the younger kids and the older kids, and if the kids did not stop/leave, I would contact the authorities. I love the idea of taking a picture as well as using the PA system.
shelbean91's Avatar shelbean91 06:36 PM 07-14-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by isfa View Post
Wow, great suggestions! It had occurred to me to give them the option of showing me their parents or having me call the police, but I thought maybe that would be too extreme. But I think if this situation happened again, I would do exactly that. I should put the non-emergency police number in my phone.
It's not too extreme and you're mostly just calling their bluff. If I could get them to apologize and change their attitude, I may even not take them to their parents. But, if they continue to be little snots, calling the PD isn't too extreme b/c if they're like this now, it will only get worse.
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