Play Area - aggravating older kids, what to do? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-27-2012, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter (my only child) will be three years old in a month. She's not used to being around other young kids (just her cousins, who are all teens), so I'm trying to get her out and about at play areas and the like.

 

Today we were at a play area and there was a tree to climb into and slide out of. She kept wanting to, and other kids would push in front of her, and she'd back off. That I think she just has to learn to be more assertive and I tried to help her. But when one kid, probably 8 or 9 would turn and block the tunnel and say, "No!", it scared her off.

 

I don't know why most parents don't give a damn that their child is being a brat or a bully to a younger child, but this kid's mom did have her hands full... five kids and very pregnant, and I don't think she saw him doing this, because when one of her other kids jumped out and startled my daughter, she made him apologize for scaring her, and did so in a way I think was constructive. And I made sure my daughter was considerate of the tiny daughter she had, who was much smaller and younger.

 

So what do you do when some older kid is being a bully to your not even 3 year old, and the parent on hand doesn't notice? Later she tried telling her older kids to take turns and let my daughter go, but they ignored her, and she let them.

 

Finally, I got fed up and took my daughter away from the play area. I know this won't be the last time something like this happens. I know I need to teach my daughter to stand up for herself, but how do I handle this next time? Is it acceptable to say something to the kid? Should I have said something to the mom, when she was already trying and just (I think) kind of worn out and overwhelmed?

 

I was a very shy kid, it was very painful. My daughter is not in the least shy and she wants to be friends with everyone, and I am so afraid that's going to get squashed.

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Old 06-27-2012, 11:57 PM
 
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Those situations are always uncomfortable, especially if you get a good vibe from the other mom and don't want to upset her.  The way I have handled that kind of thing (and I can't remember it ever blowing up in my face) is to say something firm but not mean to the child who has directly addressed or somehow asserted himself against my child.  Once a child realizes that there's an adult there who's really paying attention, they usually back down and behave a little better toward my kid.  I think in the case as you described I would have said something to the kid like, "she's three, you need to be a little more patient."  Or something along those lines.  

 

I don't like the idea of telling the parent or especially (like I have seen people do) talk to the child in a loud tone that is meant for the parent to hear.  I wouldn't want to sneak in my jibes at the kid behind the parent's back, if they hear it they hear it, but I just really don't like it when someone makes a point of saying it loud enough to the child for the parent to hear on purpose, kwim?  And telling the parent feels too much like tattling to me and it's so hard to get the right tone of voice when you're thinking "omg your kid is being terrible!"  lol  

 

If it's a play area that's meant for toddlers, there may be an age limit posted somewhere.  I know some of the play areas here are limited to five or six and under.  I wouldn't try to chase away kids above the limit (it's so annoying as a mom of kids with a big age difference when I can't do something fun for my LO because we've got my big one with us), but it may make you feel like you've got more of a leg to stand on and that the bigger kids really do need to be easier on the little ones.  


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Old 06-28-2012, 11:18 AM
 
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In that kind of situation, I try to stay close to my LO. If older kids tell him "no", or blocking his way on purpose so he can't play too, I just say "Everyone can play", while looking at the offender. That way, I'm not really scolding or parenting another person's kid, I'm just stating a fact. Everyone is allowed to play. If someone's pushing or hitting I say "hitting hurts", while again looking at the offender. If the play area is meant for younger kids and older kids are running around a little too crazy, I just try to stand right next to my LO, that way, they don't get trampled. If my LO does still get knocked down, I'd say "careful around the little ones". But if its a play area that's not specifically for little ones, I then think it would be my place to remove my LO if things are getting too crazy.

 

But honestly, from your description, it does not sound like anyone was really being a "bully" to your child. It sounds like those kids were just being kids. A child saying "no" doesn't make him a bully. It sounds like your daughter just needs some more time around kids. Perhaps you can find a place with more kids her own age.

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Old 06-28-2012, 11:35 AM
 
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I agree that that older kid wasn't really being a bully. BUT...my 8-yo, very energetic, active on playground sets, boy wouldn't ever do that to a preschooler, he knows better by now.  He might brush past, or try to squeak in front to get an extra turn in around a slower, smaller kid, but he knows better than to try to forbid/scare a littler one.  So I wouldn't take that as "normal/OK" behavior and brush it off, that kid was definitely in the wrong.

 

Having said that.....when my kids were that age, if we were playing somewhere and bigger kids started showing up, or were there to begin with, I just followed my kids around and made sure my presence was known, and never really had a problem with older kids....and if there was an incident, I always kept the comment chill, not reprimanding and they usually got the hint.  Like, "woah, watch it man, he's still little and just wants a turn" or "easy guys, remember they're little and get scared easier." instead of sounding so...mom-ish.  There was only one time I said something and the kid was a snot back to me saying whatever it was was fun, and I said in a kind of "DUDE" voice, "Maybe fun for you, but not for him.  Look at his face and see if it looks like he's having fun." and the kid looked, kind of shrugged and went off, but didn't come near us again, so it was still a win in my book.

 

Good luck!!


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Old 06-28-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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I agree with the others.

 

One time some older kids were throwing stones at 18 mo DD as she tried to climb up the steps of a slide.  I just went over and told them off.  End of problem.  I don't have a problem speaking up if older kids are out of line - but like the others, I make it about them, not their parent.  With the best of intentions no parent can be on top of their kid all the time.  I feel the same way about other parents pulling my DD in line - I am grateful for the support.   Of course there's always the possiblity you'll coem across a monster parent who thinks their child candonowrong, but 90% of parents I've met get it.

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Old 06-28-2012, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all... good suggestions and info all around. I keep thinking, how's she going to learn to stand up for herself if I don't? And I have to do it in a way that works and is appropriate. So thank you, all.

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Old 06-28-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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In that kind of situation, I try to stay close to my LO. If older kids tell him "no", or blocking his way on purpose so he can't play too, I just say "Everyone can play", while looking at the offender. That way, I'm not really scolding or parenting another person's kid, I'm just stating a fact. Everyone is allowed to play. If someone's pushing or hitting I say "hitting hurts", while again looking at the offender. If the play area is meant for younger kids and older kids are running around a little too crazy, I just try to stand right next to my LO, that way, they don't get trampled. If my LO does still get knocked down, I'd say "careful around the little ones". But if its a play area that's not specifically for little ones, I then think it would be my place to remove my LO if things are getting too crazy.

 

But honestly, from your description, it does not sound like anyone was really being a "bully" to your child. It sounds like those kids were just being kids. A child saying "no" doesn't make him a bully. It sounds like your daughter just needs some more time around kids. Perhaps you can find a place with more kids her own age.

I agree with this 100 percent. I think it is easy to assign aggression to older children when you are the parent of wee ones... But really just saying no and blocking a tunnel could just be a way of playing.  I would just talk to the child and gently remind them that everyone can play, and remark how doing that scares your little girl. 

 

If it is true that "everyone can play" then it is true for older kids, too!

 


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Old 06-29-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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i have been having real frustrations when I'm at parks that clearly have a few jungle gyms that are clearly for different age groups, i go to one that literally has 4! in various age levels. but no matter what you get a group of 7-10 years olds I'm guessing that run and dive from one to another and are literally dangerous for my 18m olds that are just learning the slides and such.  in each of two parks while it is super clear that there are different levels of structure for different age groups i done see it actually posted anywhere. but I'm furious that parents would let there 8 year old run up and down the slide my 1 year old is trying to use carefully. and because it is such a large area i never seem to be able to figure out who is the parent.

 

i have stepped in and stopped the running (sometimes straight over my kids head) and said that "this is the little kids area, please let them use it" and such. but it rarely works unless i get pretty stern about it and then i feel like i am doing their parents job and I'm unhappy to be put in that situation.  this is actually a safety issue half the time, so it is not something to let slide, and its not like they done have a bigger better play area 20-30 ft away.

 

what would you smart ladies do in this case?


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Old 06-29-2012, 10:16 AM
 
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I'd start casual, "Hey guys, this one is for the little kids, don't you have better equipment over there?"  and if they ignored, I'd get more stern like, "They make the small ones for the little kids for a reason.  Please go use the one that's the right size for you."  If they ignored that, something like, "It's going to really suck if you wind up hurting my kid because you're ignoring me and the signs and won't stay off the little kid equipment."  Of course, I'd be tempted to say something snarky like, "Wowwwww, 2-year-olds are awful big these days", or, "I feel bad that you older kids can't read or figure out what a sign means."  But I doubt I'd pull that out unless I had a feeling the kids would respond well to it.

 

I wouldn't think of it as doing their parents' job, I'd think of it as keeping my own kid safe.  shrug.gif


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Old 06-29-2012, 10:29 AM
 
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I'm not monitoring my 8 year old all the time when she's at the park and I don't expect other parents to monitor their older children all the time either.   For a start it's not appropriate - kids of that age need to develop a sense of confidence in the world away from their parents (I'm a free ranger).  The reality is 7-10 are still kids: though they seem huge compared to the LOs, they are the centre of the their own worlds and don't see the big picture the way adults do.  It's more like - hey! this game is really fun!  let's run from slide to slide! those little kids are in the way!  and be in the moment. 

 

That said, if DD is trampling over a little kid I would have no problem with that little kid's parent telling her off if she needed it.   She'd probably be more likely to listen to that parent than me anyway, haha. 
 

 

This is no doubt hard to relate to if you only have LOs.  IT may make more sense when they get older. 

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Old 06-29-2012, 10:55 AM
 
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I agree with Tapioca. An 8 year old does not have a parent watching their every move on the playground. Really, a lot of 8 year olds are old enough to be there by themselves. I personally think maybe you need to relax a bit. Has anyone ever actually hurt your child by them playing around her? While it may make you nervous to watch the older kids run and jump around your LO, they often have a lot of control where they're going.

 

Just the other day I was watching my 16 month old venture out into the splash pad. There were tons of kids running all around in every direction. No one knocked down my little guy. Surprisingly, no one got knocked down at all, but they were running all over.  Even if my LO would have got knocked over by accident, it's not like he would have gotten hurt, probably just upset, maybe a scrape. But no reason to stop all the fun for everyone (including him, who likes being in all the action).

 

Telling a child not to run while they're on the playground seems a bit ridiculous. I can understand why the kids are not listening to you. You could say "please be careful around her, she's still learning how to walk"... etc. is much more likely to be well received than a "stop running" or "wouldn't you rather go play over there where it's more age appropriate".
 

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Old 06-29-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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yes. my then 14 month old got kicked in the back of the head, hard enough to topple then forward at the top of the slide from another kid (probably 8ish jumping past them to run down the slide, so yes i do have to do something and i dont think that is something to "relax" about. 

if there is only one play area i would act differently and probably think it was not the best place for my kid to learn the slide for the first time. but that was not the case. 

i dont expct parents to monitor their older children every minute of playground time, but i guess i do expect them to teach them to watch out for very small kids and to stay off the small play area set aside from them (when they clearly have a way bigger fun on for them to play on) if they can't be trusted to follow those safety outlines then yes they still need monitoring.

in the same vein i make sure my two toddlers stay off of the big equipment and out of the big kids way so that they can play in their area free of worry and impediment. no matter how much my little tikes are drawn to the big kid stuff.


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Old 06-29-2012, 11:24 PM
 
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i dont expct parents to monitor their older children every minute of playground time, but i guess i do expect them to teach them to watch out for very small kids and to stay off the small play area set aside from them (when they clearly have a way bigger fun on for them to play on) if they can't be trusted to follow those safety outlines then yes they still need monitoring.

in the same vein i make sure my two toddlers stay off of the big equipment and out of the big kids way so that they can play in their area free of worry and impediment. no matter how much my little tikes are drawn to the big kid stuff.

 

Yes, you can do that with toddlers.  Absolutely.  You will have very limited success with older kids...trust me on that.

 

Did it occur to you that maybe those parents HAVE told their kids that?  I tell my kid lots of things about how she should act, but, um, she's 8.  As I said before, kids of that age just don't think like adults do and they certainly don't always listen to their parents - haha.

 

Anyway, I'm sorry your LO got shoved like that (my guess is it wasn't deliberate, though), but honestly, that's the way it's going to be at teh park.  YOu can either accept it and monitor your LO and step in with teh older kids when necessary, as the other wise mamas suggested, or you can get mad about all those parents who aren't 'monitoring their kids' enough.  You can't control them though - that's the only problem.

 

And I say that as someone whose child had stones thrown at them at 18 months - I get it.  But I just don't think you're going to have much success out of expecting everyone to monitor, inappriopriately, their older children.

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Old 06-30-2012, 07:24 AM
 
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With my little one, if there are big kids and things are getting like that, and her older sister isn't around (because her sister would respond to that if she were), I stay right by where the problem area is in the play area, and make sure to tell her that the play area is for everyone including her, and that she can use it to, and that she gets to take her turn. If older kids start pushing her and the play area is intended for kids her age as well, I tell the older kids to please be careful around the little one. There's a tone of voice you can use to make it sound like you're having fun and your kid is having fun and they should be having fun that kids seem to buy into and accept without feeling like you're fighting against them. "Hey, could you please be careful around my little one here? The tree sure is a lot of fun, and she likes to slide on it too!" If you use a stern voice, IME they do it if you're watching but resent it and stop being nice as soon as you aren't watching. If you get the right tone of voice, they seem to more often buy into it.

Older kids can get a bit rambunctious when they're playing. Most of them don't mean to bully or anything (though that "No!" makes me wonder if you did run into an actual bully) but all of them can just overlook litle ones and bulldoze around them. I think alerting them to taking care rather than assuming they don't care often creates the environment I want more than getting angry. If it's an actual bully, it gets a lot trickier. In those cases it's best to alert the parents as to what happened, but of course you never know how the parents will respond.
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:15 PM
 
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Did it occur to you that maybe those parents HAVE told their kids that?  I tell my kid lots of things about how she should act, but, um, she's 8.  As I said before, kids of that age just don't think like adults do and they certainly don't always listen to their parents - haha.

 

yes. 8 year olds are still very much children and not little adults. even though they may appear to be compared to toddlers...


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Old 07-02-2012, 01:01 PM
 
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I think this can be looked at as a learning experience for the older children. I agree with the PP's that the older children are acting age-appropriately, running around and having fun at the playground, not necessarily being bullies. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be asked to be careful around a newly walking toddler in the toddler-designated section of the playground..

 

I think it's best assume the best from the older kids, that they have a natural impulse to want to protect the littlest ones, and then show them how to do that. So rather than tell them what they're doing 'wrong', playing in the wrong area or running too fast, or whatever, explain to them what your child needs. Like an earlier PP said, "She's just learning how to walk, so we need to move slowly around her. She isn't old enough to stay out of your way." You could even introduce your daughter and show them how to play with her (if they slow down long enough), she loves peek-a-boo. Engaging the older kids is more likely to get them to appreciate the needs of small children and self monitor their own behavior around them in the future.

 

It's also worth remembering that kids that age can be remarkably agile; this is the age of back handsprings and home runs. They can have split second reaction times, and might be able to avoid bumping into the little ones better than it might appear.


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Old 07-03-2012, 11:29 AM
 
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Agreed that the kids were being kids and that kids of that age play very differently than little people. Playing at the park probably isn't going to get her used to it. Have you considered some sort of regular class or structured activity with the same, similar-aged kids?

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Old 07-17-2012, 09:07 AM
 
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Sounds normal, but it's irritating nonetheless.  Having subbed in a number of elementary schools, I've done quite a bit of playground duty.  Definitely hang out nearby so you can keep an eye on things.  In terms of dealing with other people's kids, it helps to maintain a certain sense of neutrality and just deliver the facts:  "It's not okay to push people."  "It wasn't your turn."  "The line is over there."  "She was next."  That sort of thing...  If they don't get the point, you can step it up, and pull out the big guns, but it's not usually necessary.

 

I tend to avoid high traffic times at the playground and go either really early (like 8 or 9 am) or at times of day when other people are usually eating meals.  For instance, on Saturday morning, most of the older kids are probably glued to TV sets getting their daily dose of commercial advertising flavored with brief periods of animation.  So that's usually a good time to go to a playground.  At my neighborhood playground, the worst times go to are between 11-12, and after lunch until about 4pm.  So if I go before or after those times, it's not as much of a problem.
 

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Old 07-18-2012, 12:37 PM
 
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Sounds normal, but it's irritating nonetheless.  Having subbed in a number of elementary schools, I've done quite a bit of playground duty.  Definitely hang out nearby so you can keep an eye on things.  In terms of dealing with other people's kids, it helps to maintain a certain sense of neutrality and just deliver the facts:  "It's not okay to push people."  "It wasn't your turn."  "The line is over there."  "She was next."  That sort of thing...  If they don't get the point, you can step it up, and pull out the big guns, but it's not usually necessary.
 

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