I have a friendly fourteen-month-old daughter who loves to play at the playground. Since it is winter, we play in an indoor mall playground. This playground is divided into two sections: one for everyone and one just for small children. The small children area even includes a sign telling parents what a small child is ("a crawling baby" and unsteady walkers) and to keep big kids (I assume this means three and up) out of there.
Since my daughter is a walker and crawler, I go into both areas (the big and little kid areas) with her. I cannot believe the number of older kids who run wild in the baby area. One kid (an eight year old) was turning cartwheels in the baby area and kicked my toddling girl in the head. I was furious.
I see all sorts of terrible behavior involving my baby and other people's babies. Bigger kids shove the babies to the ground, grab their toys, yell "GO AWAY BABY!!!" in their faces. The worst part is that I clearly see these children's parents there and they do absolutely nothing when their big kid tries to hurt or bully a baby.
I have taken to dealing with the kids myself and have yelled at more than one rambunctious kid, "DON'T PUSH BABIES DOWN! WHY WOULD YOU PUSH A BABY!?!?!?" Oddly, I often see mothers (and fathers) see me yelling at their kids and they do nothing about that, either. Maybe they're ashamed to admit that the baby-kicking child in question is theirs, but I know I would say something if someone yelled at my child even if my child was in the wrong, something diplomatic like "I saw my child push yours down and I am sorry about that, but please do not yell in her face."
I never yell at a kid whose parent is involved. (Example: a five year old pushes/hits/kicks my toddler, yet the 5yo's mother is right there scolding their child and apologizing--Mom has it under control so I do not need to do her job for her to protect my own kid from the bully.)
Going to the playground has become nerve-wracking. Other parents seem to not like me (although they don't confront me) because they probably feel I am making too big of a deal of playground politics (which may be so, given that I am a first time mother and a youngish mother at that). I am not used to the rough way children play and it rattles me when I see bigger kids making it unsafe for the little ones.
What do you do when a playground is out of control and parents do not control their kids? What do you do when your kid is the offender? My 14mo is too young to be much of a threat to anyone, but I am right there stopping her when I see her try to take another child's toy. How could you not be? If I had an older kid and she pushed a baby to the ground, we would leave immediately. Period. No second chances with that; to me, it's just too serious of an offense to give a second chance to. And why do people ignore the clearly posted signs directing older kids to STAY OUT of the baby area??? My husband thinks this is a small issue, that "kids will be kids", but my problem is mostly with parents who are doing nothing but standing there drinking their coffee while watching their kid bully babies.
I stopped taking my son to the mall playground specifically for that reason. I then wrote a letter to the mall explaining what was going on. The only thing they changed was to move the security booth closer to the playground.
I think the issue is that most of these parents are taking their kids there so they have a chance to interact with other parents. It's nice to have a place where your kids can play and you can talk to another adult using language that is larger than three words. Yet, many parents don't actively watch their children, which they should in such a public place. Rather than yelling at the children, ask loudly which parents belong to the offending child. Then very loudly ask them do discipline said child or if they as the parent believe its acceptable behavior. Of course all the parents will dislike you but it will definitely get their attention, and perhaps they will start taking a more active role in watching their own children.
Life is an adventure, I share every day with my two beautiful children.
When the older kids start getting out of control- we leave. It kind of sucks having to drag your child out of the place when they've done nothing wrong- but it's just better in the end. We go back often, and there are plenty of times when it's low-key play that is better for my daughters. I have scolded other children who are doing things that directly involve my children, but never in a mean way, I just casually tell them that we don't [insert offense here]. If they choose not to listen, then we leave and do something else. Mostly it needs to be something more exciting than the park- so I offer we go pick up a "special lunch" or play a "special game." (playing with the dreaded play-doh or something messy that they don't normally get to do all the time)
Mom of twin girls, age 3, and a new baby boy born in January!
I woud say something to the offending kids and their parents. That would have never been questioned when I was a child, my parents wanted to know if I was doing something that I shouldn't be. "It takes a village." Too many people are worried about offending people anymore. Your child's safety is your priority. I would also talk to the mall security and not hesitate to get a guard if there was a problem child, they can escort the child out. Good luck to you!
Chrissy, Married to Josh
Mommy to Ian born 12/11/06 and
Declan born 01/23/09
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I'm probably the biggest b*tch you could ever meet when it comes to my son.
My policy is that if you won't discipline your kids when they are around mine, I will. And if I have to embarrass them/you while doing so, so be it. That's just ridiculous.
If a 10 year old walks into the baby section at our mall, I will go up to them and ask them if they are a baby. No... Then you need to leave. Thanks. Did you just him my son in the face? Yes... Do you want me to hit you in the face?
When did parenting become so much of an inconvenience that others have to do your job for you?
You are not in the wrong for protecting your child. Not at all.
Mother to two beautiful boys!
Benjamin Alexander & Mason Joshua
I am the same way too. And I know what you mean by parents not liking you anymore but that there loss, they are usually the ones who have the rambunctious kid and just don't seem to care anymore about how he/she acts. My husband is the opposite though at times he gets a little out of control. I watch both my daughters like a hawk while they are playing and if another toddler happens to bump into them, it's fine, just an accident. But if it is some older kid who obviously has control over how fast and where he is running then I will confront them and loud enough so that their parents can hear. If they are not listening then I ask who there parents are and talk to them directly. I have never gotten into a fight with the parents, most of them are thankful that I brought it to their attention while a few just say nothing and end up leaving but regardless my kids get to stay and play.
What really gets to me is when we are in the mall play area which is small and crowded most of the time to begin with and there is a kid that sounds like he is about to cough up a lung or have a runny nose and is sneezy over everything in sight. That annoys me the most because I not about to wipe down the whole playground to get rid of the germs so we are forced to leave. I really do hate it when parents bring their obviously sick and contagious kids out to the playground where other kids will be.
When stuff like that happens at one of the playgrounds I go to, I sneak out and tell the management. That way the management retains control of its facilities (the management is always there - unlike me) and other parents don't know it's me making the complaints unless they're really paying close attention. If someone hurts my child, I will probably say something to that kid on the spot, but if it's just a general increased likelihood (like big kids regularly playing rough in the little kids' area) I try to leave it to the management. If the management doesn't give a hoot I stop going. No reason to spend my dollars there if they aren't going to keep their place safe.