Interaction at the coffee shop - what would you have done? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So we were at the local coffee shop, one with the kids’ play area. Two other kids there, much older than my daughter (my daughter is 21 months, they were maybe aged 4, 5?) Siblings. Anyway, the girl is playing with a little hand-held toy and my daughter tries to grab it. Before I even have chance to say anything, the mother leaps up and tells the girl “Tell her “No.” Use your manners - but she needs to learn!” (Which honestly, I was not thrilled about -her tone of voice, I mean.) I tried to ensure that my daughter didn’t grab anything else, and if she did, I did the whole “Maren, that little girl is playing with (whatever) and you can play with it once she’s finished” and gave the toy back to whoever was playing with it. No drama.

Ten minutes later, the girl and her brother start to play with a pirate ship – that is so large that 3 or 4 kids could have played with it, comfortably. So Maren wanders over and tries to join in. Before Maren even reached out to touch it, the little boy grabs the pirate ship, moves it away from Maren and says “We want to play with this by ourselves.”

My response, “This is a public coffee shop and the toys here are for all the children to share. She can play with the pirate ship if she wants to.” So the boy walks off to his mother, and she says something quietly, and the boy never comes back. We have to leave 5 minutes later anyway. Not sure if that was the right reaction – but I feel that if there is a “group” toy (i.e. more than one child can play with it) then there can be no “that is mine”. From the look I got, the other mother did not agree. What would you have done?

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#2 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:13 PM
 
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I tend to think those things are for sharing. If someone thinks their kids should have those things to themselves, buy them one for home. Obviously, I don't allow my daughter to grab things from other kids but if there's a train table then it is for everyone.
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#3 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:15 PM
 
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I would have redirected my child to another toy.

But my boys go to a Montessori and are encouraged to let others know (politely, of course) if they would prefer to work on (play with) something alone.

ETA: If I saw that my child wanted to play with a toy that others were already playing with, I would have modeled/assisted her in asking them if she can play and dealing with their response.

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#4 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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In the first case, I'd have said to the other mother, "Excuse me. My dd isn't even 2 yet. There is no need for her to learn from your kids." And I would have said to my dd something about not taking things from other kids, you'll get a turn when he's done. But I most certainly would have said something to the mom. In the second instance, I'd speak directly to the kids, "You know what? This toy is big enough for all of you to play with. You're all here to play, she has just as much a right as either of you." Unless they were playing something together and very involved, then I'd have tried to redirect my child to something else. But if I were the mom of the 2 kids playing with it, I'd have told them that the toy is for everyone and they should share with the little girl. My kids love playing with younger kids.
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#5 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:20 PM
 
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This is not work, this is play in a public space. Everyone has an equal shot at group toys.
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#6 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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A large public toy or play area is, IMO for all children. It's not for 1 or 2 kids to hog for themselves. However, if a child has their own personal toy then of course they don't have to share if they don't want to.

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#7 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
This is not work, this is play in a public space. Everyone has an equal shot at group toys.
But this is not the way it works for adults at all.

It would be considered rude if two or more people were playing basketball on a public court and a stranger just randomly walked up, said nothing and started shooting baskets in the middle of the court, so why is it any different when children are playing?

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#8 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:56 PM
 
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In the first instance, I don't think there's anything you could've done unless you wanted a direct confrontation with the mom. At the same time, perhaps her child has a history of allowing others to take her toys and then getting upset. The mom may have been trying to teach her daughter to be assertive and not let your dd take the toy. It's not the way I would've gone about it, but I can see that scenario. I probably would've just figured it was handled and not worried about it.

As for the pirate ship, I don't understand that "it was big enough for 3 or 4 kids." What, exactly, was it? Something like a train table, I consider a toy that everyone needs to share. One or 2 children cannot just "claim" the table. If it were something that simply was large (idk what, maybe like those life-sized dolls or a playhouse the kids all could fit in), then I think one or two kids can play a game with those toys. Yes, they're public, but that doesn't mean your less-than-2YO dd can just jump in with 4-5YOs when they're in the middle of a game. Now, if they'd had it some enormous amount of time, then I think it's reasonable to step in and ask that they let someone else play, but I'm assuming they hadn't had it a long time.

Basically in group situations, all children should be respected and learn to play together. Sometimes that means letting others have their turn with toys. It really sounds that maybe your dd was just going up to whatever the other kids had. I completely understand that - they're big kids, after all, and look like fun - but I also get that the older children may want to play without a toddler constantly trying to insert herself into their play. They probably had something set up and didn't want her to mess it up. My own DS is like that with DD, and I do respect his right to create his own play without his sister messing it up.

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#9 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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I would have redirected my toddler away from the pirate ship. Yes, the toys are there for everyone but it sounds like there were lots of other toys and your DD didn't really have to play with that at the same time. The older kids probably had some game going on and didn't want another child joining in.

I have 3 kids, the first two are 2 years apart and the last one is 4 years younger so I have this issue a lot! And it usually is more that the youngest wants to join in with the older two rather than he really wants to do what they are doing. I know it can be frustrating for him but it is also frustrating for the older two to always have to include him on all their games.
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#10 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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In the first incident, I might have assumed that the mom is trying to teach her children the appropriate way to respond to another child who takes from them. For all I know, there could have been an earlier incident where these children had to fend off someone snatching toys or bullying them, and they reacted physically. It may explain why she's on alert and intervenes before a situation develops.

In the second incident, I would have gently said to the other children something along the lines of, "Maren would like to play too. You can all have fun together. The toys are for everyone. Can you show her how to share nicely?".

If he didn't want to share, then I would have distracted my child with some of the other toys.
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#11 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:02 PM
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Yeah... I would have redirected my daughter away from the pirate ship if the other kids were playing with it, especially given the age difference. Since she'd already grabbed a toy once, I imagine that the other kids were expecting that she might do so again and were pre-emptively trying to keep their own game safe, and were doing so pretty appropriately.

If your daughter had been closer in age I might see this a little differently, but she's not going to be able to play at their level and they clearly weren't interested in playing at hers.

Our favorite coffeehouse here as board games, and if Alice and I were playing Monopoly and a little kid came up and started playing with the pieces we weren't using, I wouldn't be okay with that. Just because toys are for everyone doesn't mean everyone always gets access.

 
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#12 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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My feeling is...that yes the toys are for everyone but the kids are well within their rights to not have to play with another kid. I would have told my child to play with a different one... and when they were done playing with it then it would be up for grabs

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#13 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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The toy is for all, but if I were in that situation and saw the mix of children wasn't overly compatible, I would tell my toddler the other children were playing with it and there were other toys to play with. I don't have high expectations of situations like that and honestly, I don't see the benefit or learning opportunity of my toddlers being in random situations like that. I always had the attitude of if it works, great-if not-no biggie! We can play at home.
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#14 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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Just because toys are for everyone doesn't mean everyone always gets access.
This is the perfect way to say what I was thinking.

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#15 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 03:50 PM
 
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In the first incident, I might have assumed that the mom is trying to teach her children the appropriate way to respond to another child who takes from them. For all I know, there could have been an earlier incident where these children had to fend off someone snatching toys or bullying them, and they reacted physically. It may explain why she's on alert and intervenes before a situation develops.

In the second incident, I would have gently said to the other children something along the lines of, "Maren would like to play too. You can all have fun together. The toys are for everyone. Can you show her how to share nicely?".

If he didn't want to share, then I would have distracted my child with some of the other toys.
ITA. Actually, the other mom didn't seem out of line to me. DS has this friend who really needed modeling in how to say "no," or "don't hit me," or "I don't liek that" instead of breaking down into a freakout screaming fit. We modeled for *her* how to speak to DS when he did something like that, and we modeled for *DS* how to trade toys, not hit, etc...

It's tough on 2-year-olds, but it IS important to model to them how to share with other kids. DS doesn't always understand, (he's 2), and he gets frustrated when he wants a toy another child is playing with, but he's also in the "mine" phase and doesn't want other kids taking "his" toys. And it goes for communal toys as well, IMO. If another kid is playing with something, there MAY be room for sharing, but I'm more likely to redirect DS to something else. Important skills all around.
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#16 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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I agree with the PP's who think the older children were being appropriet. I didn't read the "she needs to learn" as directed toward you or your daughter, but rather for the older child. Who knows, they could have had a talk earlier about why littler kids are able to get away with things considered inapppropriet/rude at 4 or 5, and the mom coud have said something to the effect of, they're still very young/babies, but they will learn, or, you used to act like that when you were 1 / 2, but you had to learn etc. Or perhaps the older little girl is routinely ''bullied'' by younger kids/babies and the mom was trying to help her stand up for herself. There have been a lot of threads on here where the parent has a kid that is easily bullied and wants advice for teaching them how to stand up for themselves while still being polite, but coaching them through what to say. If this sort of thing was the case, the mom was prob expecting it to come up when she saw you and your dd approaching and was waiting to use it as a moment to model for her daughter.
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#17 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 04:28 PM
 
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Our favorite coffeehouse here as board games, and if Alice and I were playing Monopoly and a little kid came up and started playing with the pieces we weren't using, I wouldn't be okay with that. Just because toys are for everyone doesn't mean everyone always gets access.
I think this is a really good example. If a bunch of adults were playing a board game no one would expect them to let a 2yo join in.

There is a big difference between a 2yo and a 5yo in how they play.
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#18 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 04:44 PM
 
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I'm kind of a hypocrite when it comes to scenarios like this. If my son were the one playing with a toy that another child came up and wanted to share, I'd tell him that the toys are there for everyone to use and he should share nicely or just give the other child a turn if he didn't feel like playing together. But if my son were the one approaching older kids already playing with something and they made it clear they didn't want to share, I'd redirect my son to something else, explaining that he could have a turn when they're finished/next time/whatever. (And when he's older, he'll also get the explanation later that some people are just not that nice and are best avoided, but that he should still be nice and share anyway.)

Maybe it's a double standard, but I don't know how else to help him learn to be a generous, sharing person and still understand that in some situations he's just not welcome.
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#19 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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I guess it depends on the size of the pirate ship. If it was so big that they could play their game independently of her in it if she were also in it, that would be one thing, but if it only fit 3 to 4 people, then she'd really have to play actually with them, and with that age difference it wouldn't go well. I'd redirect my child to something else.
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#20 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Just Kate View Post
I would have redirected my child to another toy.

But my boys go to a Montessori and are encouraged to let others know (politely, of course) if they would prefer to work on (play with) something alone.

ETA: If I saw that my child wanted to play with a toy that others were already playing with, I would have modeled/assisted her in asking them if she can play and dealing with their response.
I never knew Montessori teachings included allowing children to hog group toys in a public setting.

This is why I don't often go to the kid coffee house up the road from me. There is a giant doll house, a big play kitchen area (stove, fridge, shelves, table, etc), a train table, and a dress up station. Each play area is DESIGNED to allow several children to play at once, and naturally, some children want to monopolize it (some because of age appropriate behavior, others because they think they have the right). I think it's unfair, and in some cases, down right mean for older children to purposely exclude and disallow other (usually younger) children to play along. It smacks of bullying, and I won't put up with that.

If you come to a public play house, with public toys, where the entire point is for children to share and play together, you do not have the right, however "politely" you do it, to monopolize the toys. I don't allow my daughter to grab small hand held toys out of someone elses hand, but if she wants to step up to the play kitchen and pretend along with the other kids, she should be able to do so.

But like I said, my displeasure at having to referee play time because other parents are oblivious and or think their children can stake a claim on an entire corner of a play house is not my idea of a fun relaxing time.

If someone thought they could hog the slide structure at the park because they wanted to play on it alone, I'd tell them to pound sand (their parents, that is ).

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#21 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 05:36 PM
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I think it would be different if the OP's kid was 4 or 5 and had gone up to the other kids and said, "Hey, can I be this guy? And I was drowning and you found me in the water?" or however she wanted to enter the game... because in that case, I can definitely see how it's a public setting and the toys are for sharing, and it would seem unkind to exclude her. But a one year old just isn't capable of playing the that level...

 
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#22 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 06:08 PM
 
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Kids of that age wouldn't be able to include a one-year-old in their play. They'd have to stop playing theirgame, and entertain a toddler instead. If I had the toddler, and I have a babe who is just turning into a toddler and I also have an older child, I'd distract the toddler for a bit until the pirate ship was free. One one hand, public toys like that are for everyone to play with, but it's also reasonable for the older kids to want to finish their game, and I don't think it's asking too much for the toddler to be redirected for a bit so they could continue what they were doing.
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#23 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I never knew Montessori teachings included allowing children to hog group toys in a public setting.

This is why I don't often go to the kid coffee house up the road from me. There is a giant doll house, a big play kitchen area (stove, fridge, shelves, table, etc), a train table, and a dress up station. Each play area is DESIGNED to allow several children to play at once, and naturally, some children want to monopolize it (some because of age appropriate behavior, others because they think they have the right). I think it's unfair, and in some cases, down right mean for older children to purposely exclude and disallow other (usually younger) children to play along. It smacks of bullying, and I won't put up with that.

If you come to a public play house, with public toys, where the entire point is for children to share and play together, you do not have the right, however "politely" you do it, to monopolize the toys. I don't allow my daughter to grab small hand held toys out of someone elses hand, but if she wants to step up to the play kitchen and pretend along with the other kids, she should be able to do so.

But like I said, my displeasure at having to referee play time because other parents are oblivious and or think their children can stake a claim on an entire corner of a play house is not my idea of a fun relaxing time.

If someone thought they could hog the slide structure at the park because they wanted to play on it alone, I'd tell them to pound sand (their parents, that is ).
No where did I say that Montessori encourages children to be selfish toy hogs. What it does due is encourage children to realize and respect others' boundaries. I'm honestly surprised that so many feel that children have no right to their own space or to pursue their own interests without interference from others. We regularly allow adults these courtesies but for whatever reason we regularly trample all over children's boundaries in the name of being "fair."

As others have stated, just because something is in a public space doesn't mean that everyone has to have access to it whenever we want. It would be rude for an adult in a coffee shop to go sit at a table that currently has two adults conversing at it without asking first or receiving an invitation, even if the table could seat three or four people, so I'm not sure why it isn't rude for a child to interject himself into another child or group of children's play with out asking for or receiving an invitation.

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#24 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 07:21 PM
 
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It would be rude for an adult in a coffee shop to go sit at a table that currently has two adults conversing at it without asking first or receiving an invitation, even if the table could seat three or four people, so I'm not sure why it isn't rude for a child to interject himself into another child or group of children's play with out asking for or receiving an invitation.
Isn't the point of these coffee house play things for children to go and play and socialize with OTHER children. I don't get the concept of taking your kid to a public play room and then being insulted that other children want to play with yours. And THEN to compare such a social setting (that is set up for children!) to adults sitting at a private table. They are apples and oranges to me.

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#25 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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Isn't the point of these coffee house play things for children to go and play and socialize with OTHER children. I don't get the concept of taking your kid to a public play room and then being insulted that other children want to play with yours. And THEN to compare such a social setting (that is set up for children!) to adults sitting at a private table. They are apples and oranges to me.
I think the point of coffee house play things is to entertain children while their parents enjoy the items that they purchased

And why do you assume that if two or more children are playing together that they came together? Maybe my child is already playing with OTHER children. that doesn't mean that they should be obligated to include and accommodate everyone who walks through the door in their play.

I'm also not sure why a table in a public place magically becomes private once it is in use, but a toy remains public domain even if it is already being played with by others (well, as long as it is being used by children ), so we'll have to agree to disagree.

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#26 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here. Wow, I am surprised by the number of comments! And I appreciate all of your input, and it has certainly made me think about a couple of things that I had not considered. I still do feel that my reaction was appropriate, but I can certainly see the other side of things, too.

Northof60 - I enjoyed reading your posts. You and I have a very similar viewpoint on this (and on other issues, I often think "absolutely!" when I read your posts.)

JustKate - I am sure you didn't mean it to sound this way, and perhaps I am very sensitive to any criticism of my child (aren't we all!) but my daughter was not being rude. She was being 21 months old.

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#27 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 08:25 PM
 
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I'm kind of a hypocrite when it comes to scenarios like this. If my son were the one playing with a toy that another child came up and wanted to share, I'd tell him that the toys are there for everyone to use and he should share nicely or just give the other child a turn if he didn't feel like playing together. But if my son were the one approaching older kids already playing with something and they made it clear they didn't want to share, I'd redirect my son to something else, explaining that he could have a turn when they're finished/next time/whatever. (And when he's older, he'll also get the explanation later that some people are just not that nice and are best avoided, but that he should still be nice and share anyway.)

Maybe it's a double standard, but I don't know how else to help him learn to be a generous, sharing person and still understand that in some situations he's just not welcome.
That's pretty much what I do too. I have told other kids that the playground equipment is for all the kids when the bigger kids are trying to block others from playing.

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#28 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Just Kate View Post
I think the point of coffee house play things is to entertain children while their parents enjoy the items that they purchased
And there in lies the problem.. parents are too busy enjoying their coffee to notice their kid is being a bully.

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And why do you assume that if two or more children are playing together that they came together? Maybe my child is already playing with OTHER children. that doesn't mean that they should be obligated to include and accommodate everyone who walks through the door in their play.
If it is a toy or activity that is intended for multiple children to play with at a time, yes, your kid is OBLIGATED to let others participate.

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I'm also not sure why a table in a public place magically becomes private once it is in use, but a toy remains public domain even if it is already being played with by others
Well, for starters, I think comparing adults at a private table to a public play house for children to socialize and play together is full of holes. They're not even remotely similar situations, in my mind.

I think a more appropriate comparison would be adults at a BBQ or house party, sitting around chit chatting and socializing. I think it would be MORE than appropriate for one adult to walk up and join other adults in the conversation. It is, after all, a social setting. If you wanted to have a private conversation, excuse yourself to a private room or save it for later. I think it's silly to go to a social setting and then get indignant that someone wants to be social.

(And just to be clear, when I say that children are obligated to let others participate, I'm specifically talking about toys or activities where the intended purpose is for multiple children to play. I've already said I wouldn't allow my daughter to snatch a small hand held toy out of someone elses hand, but I DO expect that she will allow other children to play at the toy kitchen or at the train table.. those are multi-children activities.)

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so we'll have to agree to disagree.
Yep.

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#29 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
And there in lies the problem.. parents are too busy enjoying their coffee to notice their kid is being a bully.
It doesn't sound as if the child was a bully at all. He told the OP's dd that he and his sister were playing something. The OP then went over and told him that her child had a right to play, and the boy went and sat by his mom. If anything, the OP was the bully, not the boy. And...the original complaint is that the other children's mom was *too* involved and jumping the gun - not that she was "too busy" enjoying her cofee.

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Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I think a more appropriate comparison would be adults at a BBQ or house party, sitting around chit chatting and socializing. I think it would be MORE than appropriate for one adult to walk up and join other adults in the conversation. It is, after all, a social setting. If you wanted to have a private conversation, excuse yourself to a private room or save it for later. I think it's silly to go to a social setting and then get indignant that someone wants to be social.
No, the more appropriate analogy is the board game one. Just because 4 people can play Monopoly doesn't mean that people who choose to play it in a coffee house have to let others join in. The game is public domain, but that doesn't mean it's a free-for-all. Even at the BBQ, though, I don't think it's okay just to insert yourself into any and every conversation. I know people who do it, and we generally avoid them.

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#30 of 191 Old 12-27-2009, 09:33 PM
 
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Or how about a 5-year-old trying to force his/her way into a conversation with adults at a bbq? Because a 5-year-old in a conversation with adults is pretty equivalent to a 1-year-old trying to play with 5-year-olds. When adults and a child are in a conversation, the conversation is all about the child and the adult conversation is over. In the same way, 5-year-olds cant' continue their play if they're forced to include a toddler. It's all about the toddler and their game is over.
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