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Spinoff: Disciplining other people's kids...

839 Views 17 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  HollyBearsMom
Recently dd and I have been going to this awesome indoor gym, Monkey Joes. It is a bunch of different types of bounce houses, ones to climb and slide down, and ones that are like mini obstacle courses. Wonderful for kids here in FL where it's WAAAAAY to hot to play outside at the playground.
Anyway, since it's summer, a few times that we have gone, there have been some suumer camps/daycare centers there on feild trips. The kids are a bit older than dd (who is 2) ranging from age 4-10ish.
DD is very agile, and is fully able to climb all of the different bounce houses, without help. However, I find I have to go with her (which is fine, it's actually really fun for me too!
) to protect her from the onslaught of kids running her over. I am realistic, I know the nature of bounce houses is that kids bounce into each other, ect. BUT, these kids are RUNNING over her, pushing her aside, stepping on her, shoving, and not letting her go.
She seems somewhat unaffected, and has not been hurt, since I am right there with her. BUT I am getting incresingly aggitated. Last time I was there I yelled at two groups of kids to "CHILL OUT!!!!" after asking repeatedly to "Watch the little guys!" There are Referees at each bounce house, but the kids do not listen to them, piling too many kids on the ladder, sliding down 3-4 at a time, shoving, ect. And there are simply not enough teachers with the groups to really watch all the kids. The ones that are there are usually sitting together talking at a table.
:
I have no tolerance for out of control unsupervised kids hurting my child. A few times, I physically stopped (by not letting them pass us up) or prevented them from running her over. Once when I yelled at some kids (the first time I let dd go byherself, of course) to stop pushing her (she was on the ladder, which is HIGH, like 2 stories) their 'teacher' (who was a teen, nothing against teens, but she just didn't get why I was so angry) offered to get dd off the ladder. NO!!! YOU need to control YOUR kids! My child has every right to be on here as they do! I'm all for everyone having fun, and everyone staying safe.
Here is what I am planning on doing next time:
1.Speak to the daycare/camp teachers
2.Speak to the referees
3.Speak to the manager of Monkey Joes.
But I still feel like I need something to do with the kids at the moment when they are running over/shoving dd....
The problem is that there are rules, like no running, only 4 people on at a time, no rough play, ect. But none of the kids follow them (which I would not expect, they are excited kids after all!) but the teachers need to be able to supervise better.
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Honestly? It sounds like your child is too little to engage in this activity safely. The kids are using the bouncers as intended if very exuberently and can't use them this way with a toddler in the mix.
I have two really agile kids so I know where you are coming from. Could you talk to the management about dedicating some of the equipment to under 5s for part of the week? That's what our local bounce house does.
Quote:

Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Could you talk to the management about dedicating some of the equipment to under 5s for part of the week? That's what our local bounce house does.
: Our discovery center has a "3 and under" room for us to escape to when the craziness of the rest of the place gets to be too much and we need a break.

While I'm with you on the lax supervision and rowdiness of older bigger kids not being cool, I don't know how they'd be able to do anything about it other than designate an area for littler ones, because honestly even if all the chaperones were "on", there's still a big kid:chaperone ratio on school outings, at least here anyway - and places like this are EXCITING for kids, and when they're in a group with their friends, it's even MORE exciting! I'd certainly prevent my child from being run over, but I'd also talk to management about the above, and I'd not expect a whole lot from the group chaperones, unfortunately.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Could you talk to the management about dedicating some of the equipment to under 5s for part of the week? That's what our local bounce house does.
I think this sounds like a fantastic idea! Kids in the lower elementary ages really are going to go to town on those sorts of things, and while it is a good idea to notify staff if you notice some dangerous things going on (like a bunch of kids on a ladder at once), it will be nearly impossible to keep a 2 year old (who sounds like she really loves to play, and loves the equipment!) out of their way.

Clara
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Are there times when it is less crowded? I'd ask the manager for advice. Also, perhaps if they did designate certain hours just for younger kids 2-4yo or 2-6, or maybe certain structures for certain times just for younger ones, you would round up some parents of like-aged kids to make it worth his while. I'd approach the manager first with your concerns - I used to live in TX and one of those types of play places would open early 7:30 to 9 for the little ones. It was perfect timing, and we get lots of energy expended by the time it gets really, really hot.
I read the other thread and thought a lot about it but struggled to put my thoughts into a post. Here's my shot.

If you see, as I am learning to, discipline about teaching children how to negotiate the world and not about changing behavior, I don't think you really can yell at, command or instruct other people's kids to do what you want them to. You can set an example, you can discuss it with them if they'll listen, you can organize them into some kind of fun taking-turns game-type activity, you can try to impact the environment (I think staying near your young one and passively getting in the way of the older ones is a good example of this), but I don't think you can boss them around. And I don't want to see my daughter bossing other people around either, know what I mean?

Part of what influences my opinion on this is/was my parents' habit of telling me, usually privately, that other kids were in the wrong. I wanted to get up from the table in a restaurant the way I saw another kid doing: "oh, that little boy is being very rude", I wanted to stay at the swimming pool later like another family: "oh, those children won't be rested and won't do well in school tomorrow." In your place, they would have said something like (in a very disapproving voice and quite possibly loud enough to be overheard) "those other children just don't know how to behave and their teachers aren't paying any attention, we will have to leave." And around age 9 I embarrassed myself (and my parents) by repeating these things to other children and learned the hard way that it wasn't well received or socially appropriate.

I know you aren't suggesting anything so passive aggressive, but Ican't help but think that, by extension, correcting or instructing other people's kids in the presence of your daughter sends the same type of message.

I agree that the teachers should watch better and maybe the kids should know better, but it reminds me how I also think that other drivers should look over their shoulders while merging on the highway to avoid nearly running into my car. Ultimately, there is little to be done about how others behave except adapt.

About your particular experience, I think the it's great that your DD is not affected by the ruckus and enjoys herself. I think it's good for toddlers to get in and play with older kids, with you there to keep her safe. I completely understand your annoyance, but for myself I would accept that the environment of the bounce house as rough-and-tumble and if DD and I could have fun there, great, and if not I'd look for something else to do. My only other suggestion is to experiment and find off-peak times when the place isn't as busy.
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It doesn't sound like such a fun great place to me. They are not catering to families with small children -- they are catering to camps and daycares with large groups. You can file a complaint, but I suspect they make more money from large groups than from individual families, so I kind of doubt you are going to get anywhere. Maybe just look for a more toddler friendly place to play.
Quote:

Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Honestly? It sounds like your child is too little to engage in this activity safely. The kids are using the bouncers as intended if very exuberently and can't use them this way with a toddler in the mix.
I have two really agile kids so I know where you are coming from. Could you talk to the management about dedicating some of the equipment to under 5s for part of the week? That's what our local bounce house does.
I would be nervous with my four-year-old in that environment.
I get why you are so frustrated though--it doesn't sound like the teachers/day care people/camp counselors are doing much of anything. I would be annoyed too.
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This really doesn't sound like the right, safe kind of environment for a 2 year old. Even if, as you've mentioned, she's physically capable, the equipment is geared more for older children, so no matter what, it's always going to be a bit of a zoo, even during slower times. I know it's frustrating for you b/c you want and need her to get the activity and fun play that she needs, and you need the indoor environment. I agree with the pp's - find out when the less crowded times are, and use them. You might also speak to the mgmt about your concerns, but be prepared for them to tell you that they can't do much about it.

On another note, I can also tell you that a ladder of the height you described is NOT designed for use by a child your age. The way you describe the equipment really purposes it for older children. I have a degrees, albeit fairly old at this point, in recreation administration, and while they may welcome children your daughter's age at this playground, it does not appear to be designed for her chronological age group.
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I don't know what the answer is, but I can share an experience that I had:

My DD is 2 YO and likes to climb and jump. She's tall, 36 inches, so she can reach these things that 4-5 YO kids like. We have a playground in the neighborhood that has 2 sets of equipment, one for little kids like her and one for older kids. You know she likes the bigger one, right? So one day the older kids were running all over the place and she was determined to climb this ladder. She did it 7 times until she felt comfortable with it. She was determined to do it. So DH and I helped and supervised. The girls were very aware of her and moved around her carefully. Some boys offered to help her and were very big brother protective.

One little boy was pushing her, and a girl told him to "watch out for the little girl." He replied, "I don't care about a little girl." Then I said, "Well, I do care about her, so I'm going to ask you to watch out." He turned and looked at me like he realized that adults were there for the first time. Then he moved by carefully.

I didn't try to discipline him per se, but I let him know that I was there for my child. Where I grew up, all adults disciplined all children. When you saw someone doing something inappropriate, you let them know what you expected. I do the same thing. If I see the kids doing something dangerous to anyone, including themselves, I become a referee. Then usually other parents and even day care providers will come over and supervise their kids.
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I'm going to swim upstream here and say that if it's the sort of place that is catering towards kids and it's acceptable for your dd to be there - you know height requirements or whatever, then they need to make sure that the rules are being followed for safety reasons.

If the rule is no more than four kids on a specific item and more than for are there, the referees (?) need to be notified. Think of it this way. If it were a public pool, would the life guards let kids break the rules - just because they were acting like kids? Would they let them dive in the shallow end and run on the cement - no! The rules are obviously there for a reason. If they are not enforced then talking to the management is a reasonable request. If they do not choose to enforce the rules writing them a letter and ccing it to your citites parks and rec. department would be my next step.

But then I'm a stickler for rules.
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I totally understand! My DS loves things like that but often gets run over by other kids. He is a gentle soul and doesn't bully other kids or snatch from them so he usually ends up with his feelings hurt.
: I have a hard time not telling other children to watch out for him constantly when we are out. I have been letting him make his own way though. I let him play and if he looks distressed I will offer to help him off or out. If I see some really rough play I will say to the children, "Kids he's just a little guy. Do you think you could help him out?" and usually there is a Mama in the group who will tell the other kids to "Watch out for the baby!" If DS is really getting stressed or hurt he won't want to be there anymore so we will pick up and leave.
I would let your child try to find their own way and perhaps mention something to the owner of the establishment about how you love to come but you don't see how children who aren't bullies are able to play with larger children. If he changes great! If not, you are voting to keep things the way they are with your dollars so I would find something else to do.
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Thanks for the replies. The thing is, it IS designed for kids her age. And IF the safety rules were being followed/enforced, there would be NO problems at all. There are less crowded days, but when I asked for a schedule of dates that they were expecting a camp/daycare crowd, no one seemed to be able to help.
: A few times we've gone and it's pretty empty. My beef is that the teachers are not supervising, which puts me in the position of HAVING to. I certainly do not want to watch/supervise/yell at other people's kids. I am usually very patient, and I really do understand that kids will be kids. Trust me, dd is not a meek little kid either! She takes tumbles and gets pushed *on accident* lots of times at the park. Again, I get that the nature of a bounce house is that people will bump into each other, and the like. That is not what I am talking about here. Not the typical rambunctiousness (is that a word?) of wound up kids. It's the deliberate pushing and shoving. And yes, I did point out many many many times that dd was there. At first I was just saying things like "Would you like to get in front of dd? Just let her know you'll be going around her." or "See how she is smaller than you, it just takes her a minute to get her legs up that tall step." That turned into "Watch for the little kids, guys!" or "Slow down for the younger kids!" Which of course then turned into "HEY!!!! DO NOT RUN HER OVER!!!"

I guess I'll just have to limit my visits there. Which is frustrating, because we are paying patrons too, yk? Ah well, life isn't fair right?
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I honestly would have a problem if someone who is not in charge of my son chose to yell at him. Granted some people may have grown up in a place where "all adults discipline kids" but I was not one of those people. I would not want my son playing with little kids, if it was a situation where he was able to "let go" and burn energy. My son is 12 and is on the hyper side, but generally able to function with normal day camps etc. (he went all summer last year with minimal problems)

While I understand the OP's frustration, I would not bring my child to a situation like that. Its just me and my way of dealing with things, but I would not be comfortable "yelling at" someone else's child, and it would be a very bad situation if I found some random adult yelling at my son instead of coming to me with an issue. I just don't think its right.
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Well, it wouldn't be the route I'd go -- but if you feel a serious need to take action, you could see if your local paper might be interested in doing a story on the problem.
It sounds like a business opportunity. They need a sweeter competitor.
I totally get your frustration. We are dealing with rowdy summer campers at some of our favorite parks right now.

I think that since you are paying to be there (I assume) that asking for a refund if a huge group of poorly supervised kids shows up and over takes the place would be appropriate.

If the management sees that you want your money back because the staff is unable to enforce rules I think it would make an impression.

I also see no problem with telling the bigger kids to watch out for the little ones. I tell my 3 year old to look out for kids that are smaller than her. Sometimes kids just need the reminder (since excited kids can be oblivious).

And then I would just try to aim for quieter times (late in the afternoon most camps will have headed back to their base of operations) and look forward to school being back in session
.
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Quote:
Anyway, since it's summer, a few times that we have gone, there have been some suumer camps/daycare centers there on feild trips. The kids are a bit older than dd (who is 2) ranging from age 4-10ish.
I am most surprised by the fact that any play area that included bouncy houses had an age range of 2 to 10 years old! That is a HUGE difference in ages both physically and developmentally. Personally I would not want my child in the same bouncy house as a 10 year old. Even a well mannered, conscientious 10 year could cause harm to your average 2 year old without meaning anything!

I also know that that I am much more accepting of what my 5 ½ year does now then when he was 2 and there were other 5 ½ year olds around. What freaked me out and made me nervous I now realize is par for the course for that age. I am not saying this is what happened with you but I can tell you that my son and every single one of his friends would be hard to control in an environment that encourages running, jumping and climbing. One persons "normal play" is another's "rough play" when there is big size variance! It's not that they mean harm but it just they don't quite realize the impact they can have on bodies smaller or slower than theirs. I think this is why some many places have things for the under 4/over 5 or some variation of age breaks outs.

Still I would voice your concerns to management and see if they are open to change. They may be raking in the bucks while school is out but they are still going need a steady stream of income whe then school year starts again. It the "regulars" that pay the bills!
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