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Playground etiquette & more - advice needed

(26 Posts)
lulu40 Fri 11-Oct-02 13:49:04

I was this week approached by a parent of a little girl in the same reception class as ds who told me that my son had the day before been involved in an incident in the playground whereby my ds had hurt her dd (nothing major). She then said he had been told off and told to stand in the naughty corner (or whatever equivalent they have) I asked her dd what happened and then called my ds over and he briefly told me what happened I told my ds to apologise and of course reprimanded him for his actions. I did however as I stood there afterwards begin to feel very cross with this other woman and also strangely enough quite tearful. On my way home I thought more and more about what had happened and reaslised why I was getting upset was because I dont actually think I should have made my son apologise again or indeed have told him off again as this had obviously been dealt with by the school when the incident occurred. I would never approach another parent over such a minor playground incident and even if it was a major one feel a discussion with a teacher present would be the way to go. I find myself getting so wound up by situations relating to my ds I would love some advice from experienced mums.

rozzy Fri 11-Oct-02 14:49:49

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Mooma Fri 11-Oct-02 16:57:14

lulu40 my ds is my 4th child and I still get upset about these things. I had almost the same experience as yours the other day, and the bad feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day. I work in a Reception class, and these little incidents happen all the time, but when it is your child you are connected emotionally and that makes it difficult to keep things in perspective. I agree with Rozzy's advice, to make it clear that you're glad the school dealt with it, but not to go through the whole thing again. Some parents really aren't happy unless they've made sure there's been a huge fuss. It's a different story if their own child does something wrong

tigermoth Fri 11-Oct-02 19:33:53

Been there too.

My view after a few of these incidents is that it's OK to be told, and I have to accept another parent's need to do this.

For all I know, that small, part accidental slap/kick/shove that my ds was punished for by the teacher might still be deeply upsetting the other child. Whereas my ds will tell me about it, we'll have a talk and if necessary a further punishment he would then put the incident itself behind him.

However, the other child might have been in floods of tears all evening at home. Perhaps she didn't want to go to school the next day and the mother spent all her energy trying to make her feel OK. You never can tell.

So for that reason, I respect the right of the other parent to tell me and would say sorry my ds upset your child, I know about it and I understand the teacher dealt with it but I will have another word with my son.

I wouldn't tell him off again in front of the parent. It would make me feel I was losing control of the situation. I think it's up me to issue further discipline to my son, if necessary, and to do this when I think it's the best time - and that wouldn't be in the middle of the school playground in front of everyone.

I would think it is necessary if the other child is deeply upset. So I would ask the parent if this is the case. If the answer is no, and my son had already been punished once, I would leave it.


Tortington Fri 11-Oct-02 21:09:57

wow tiger moth! i would love to deal with stuff that way, your answer was fantastic
took me a long time to realise that sometimes i was being played for a fool, by other children, who new that if they told on my kids , i would punish them severly - oh and i sooo did - - it turns out sometimes they didnt even so the nasty deed, it was kids being horrid to get mine into trouble.
in fact i stick up for my kids most times even if i know it might be their fault, its when i get them inside the house the interrogation begins. but then thats between me and my kids, not for other kids to gloat about

Willow2 Fri 11-Oct-02 21:31:02

The nursery my son goes to make a point of not telling you "who" was responsible if your child has been hurt. I think this woman didn't really think before speaking - surely at reception age telling your child off for something they did a couple of hours ago, let alone the day before is pointless? I agree that if there was a major problem it should be something the staff deal with. Again, at ds's nursery if a child is say persistently biting they work out a plan of action and involve the parents in trying to sort out a remedy - they certainly wouldn't drag other parents in to the whole episode and I wouldn't expect them too. Children are still learning what is and isn't acceptable behaviour at this age - and who's to say the little girl hadn't wound your child up to the point of no return?...
and I say this as a mum who has picked up her child to find a perfect set of teeth marks on his face! I also say this as a child who had a huge chunk of her fringe cut off at pre-school. My mum tells me her immediate thoughts were "who did this, how dare they". Then she saw a small boy who had been more or less scalped and she made a hasty retreat.

WideWebWitch Sat 12-Oct-02 01:01:01

Lulu40, I generally have a policy of "If I didn't see it happen I can't do much about it" (even if I was nearby)since kids do tell the most awful tales and lies about each other! But I haven't come exactly across this yet and am interested to hear tigermoth's view. She's right: who's to know whether the other child involved wasn't deeply upset by it? But I also agree, ask your child later, alone, and don't assume they were in the wrong just because the other mother said so. Personally, I would never be that mother, approaching a parent in the playground to bring up something like that. If it's that serious, I expect the school to bring it to my attention. If it isn't, I don't expect parents to tell tales! Maybe I'm naive in these matters though?!

SueDonim Sat 12-Oct-02 07:03:14

I think Tigermoth's analysis is excellent. As the parent of a 3 yr old who came home from playgroup with teeth marks on her shoulder I know it's possible that the child can be badly affected. In the end I had to remove my dd from playgroup as the experience affected her so much and she became very unhappy at even the mention of playgroup. Even though she is now 6, when we drive past the building she says 'That's where Jack bit me'.

However, I do think that if an incident has been dealt with by the school/playgroup then a child shouldn't be punished again. Obviously, it's something that needs to be talked about at home after the event so the lesson to be learned can be reinforced but punishing them again is not going to achieve much except resentment.

I think problems arise when the victim's parents feel that the miscreant hasn't been punished enough, while for the perpetrator it's all done and dusted. It's only natural for a parent to be protective of their child if they have been hurt in any way.

robinw Sat 12-Oct-02 07:14:34

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kkgirl Sat 12-Oct-02 08:50:48

The trouble I find is that how to you tell between bullying and boys playing roughly. A couple of years ago my ds about 6 then said that he was being bullied at school. After talking to him trying very hard to get the facts because he doesn't say too much I went into school guns blazing so to speak.
The teacher was very concerning and looked into it, I even got one of the school dinner ladies on board.
It ended up it was a child in reception, smaller than my son and it was both of them playing roughly together.
I felt like such an idiot, now if he mentions anything I'm reluctant to get involved and I certainly wouldn't approach another parent outside of school about an incident, some parents can be like this though I know

tigermoth Sat 12-Oct-02 09:16:28

Just thought I'd add a PS to my message.

My suggestion was partly based on hindsight - and hindsight is a wonderful thing

When my son was younger, if a parent or child collared me to tell me about my son's misdoings, I too used to tell him off again in front of them, and then used to feel uneasy, just as Lulu described. I still am prone to do this. In the heat of the moment, I don't always follow my own advice!

robinw Sat 12-Oct-02 18:54:49

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robinw Sat 12-Oct-02 19:01:28

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Clarinet60 Sat 12-Oct-02 20:39:05

robinw, I totally agree with you about whoever is on playground duty not being able to see all of the playground. IME, supervision is limited and those with guile can get away with murder. Especially on hard tarmac surfaces.

ks Sat 12-Oct-02 22:37:49

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tigermoth Sun 13-Oct-02 09:43:11

I sometimes wonder if each school should have a playground report as a distinct part of their ofsted report. At my son's last school mini gang warfare in the infants and juniors was the norm. Sometimes playfighting, sometimes worse. The numbers of children and the size and layout of the playground meant the adults on duty were not able to control the play well.They were swamped despite good intentions, I think.

My son says the children got away with lots and hitting/kicking etc were commonplace. And I know from the stories he told me that violence, even if low level, was the norm. He says the same behaviour at his new school just could not happpen. Yet these schools serve the same local area, more or less.

In his new school, the playground is smaller, there are far less children anyway and there are more adults on playground duty to watch them. Children just don't hit out (or very rarely). These children aren't angels, though. Instead of gang warfare, there's lots of name-calling and not letting children join in another group's game. It's just a different playground culture.

This difference is may not be apparent to a new parent looking for a school. It might only become clear once their child has joined.

KMG Sun 13-Oct-02 19:18:59

I agree with tigermoth (as always!) Ds's new school has amazingly calm playgrounds - despite there being large numbers of children - 180 4-6 yr olds. Ds just started there and got into 'big trouble' on two occasions in the playground ... they have very high expectations of behaviour, and take any sort of violence or aggression very seriously. And of course the result is there to be seen.

But I don't know how you could possible find out. On tours round schools (IME) they generally steer you away from playtime!

robinw Sun 13-Oct-02 22:17:55

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jasper Sun 13-Oct-02 22:47:12

robinw isn't it sad it is considered odd behaviour for a parent to observe the playground activities in a school in which their OWN CHILD is a pupil?

WideWebWitch Sun 13-Oct-02 22:47:40

Jasper, yes, it is.

SueW Sun 13-Oct-02 22:56:01

I've been on both ends of this recently. DD (5yo, Year 1) came home from school complaining a boy had pulled up her dress to look at her knickers - it wasn't the first time he'd done it, last time both DH and I and his parents were present and I'd seen it dealt with. This time, I just had a chat with his mum who had a word with him after school and then told me she'd done that. We were friends; we're still friends. The children get on fine and the boy still speaks to me

Within a week, DD came home upset again. It took me ages to get the story out of her (as it had with the previous incident). She'd said something nasty to a girl at school (ner, ner, ner-ner, ner, if you must know!) and had been told off by the teacher. She'd apologised but she still felt awful about it and was worried the other girl was still upset so I offered to phone the mum in question and talk to her. DD liked this idea, and although it involved a short game of answerphone tennis, I managed to speak to the mum, who said her DD hadn't mentioned it at all and then had a quick word with her whilst I was on the phone. The daughter then came on the phone and said she was still DD's friend. Ah bless.

Of course, all of this is easier because the incidents were both with children with whose parents I am verey friendly. The children have been to our house and DD has been to theirs. And they all continue to do so.

I haven't yet had to deal with it elsewhere but do think it's better to reassure the mother you'll deal with and then be able to have a quiet, private talk with your child. I don't think it's right to publicly chastise or try to force an apology because quite often the horror or embarrassment of the child will make them shy away from doing so.

robinw Mon 14-Oct-02 06:23:24

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Clarinet60 Mon 14-Oct-02 11:35:16

robinw, how awful. ds isn't at school yet, but I worry about things like this a lot. Some of the things they learn in the playground have to be unlearned as soon as they leave school. It's all so unnecessary. I don't suppose telling them to stay close to the supervisor helps either really, as their cred would take an even worse tumble. This is what I would do if I was that age again, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Wouldn't you just hate to be back at school again and go through all this? I know I would. And wouldn't you think we'd have learned to do something to prevent it by now, between us all? But then, look at childbirth .. my rant is digressing so I'll get gone.

lulu40 Mon 14-Oct-02 15:21:46

Thank you all for your support and advice - I do of course talk to my ds and try to instill that it is wrong to hurt another child. I know some of it is boys being boys and I must admit to always getting a little more bristled if he has hurt a little girl as non-PC as that may sound. I will in future (if the need arises) try to deal with any future incidents in a way that does not make me feel so crap - thanks again.

ANonnyMouse Mon 14-Oct-02 15:44:50

Having looked at this thread, I have the following thoughts to add.

If a parent had come up to me and said that my child had hurt hers, I would ask my DS what had happened, explained tht it was unacceptable and asked him to apologise then and there. I would not punish him again if he had already been punished at school unless it was a regular ocurrance. I would also have apologised to the parent. That would then be the end of it as far as I was concerned.

DS1 has, on occasion, come home from nursery and said he didn't want to go because X hurts him. I know X and the parents very well so I know it's entirely possible that X has hurt him at some point as X can be spiteful at times (and adorable at others). I simply asked nursery to keep an eye on it as I didn't really believe there was a problem. We play with X regularly and sometimes I wonder where you should draw the line. It did get to a point where I thought "that's it, one more time had we'll call it a day" but things seemed to calm down. The fact that we are good friends actually makes it more difficult but I've had this debate with a mutual friend so many times. Xs mother freely acknowledges there is a problem but is completely at a loss as to what to do about it.

I can't bear the thought of DS1 being bullied when he starts school - I think it's the idea that someone doesn't love him as much as I do!

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