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Playground bullies - do you teach your children to deal with them? If so, what/how?

(13 Posts)
BrummieOnTheRun Mon 23-Jul-07 17:34:44


We have a happy little DS (20mos) and DD (3.5yrs) who play nicely (well nicely when I'm watching!).

A couple of times in the last week they've been intimidated off playground equipment by aggressive groups of kids (normal in a pair, always the progeny of 'terribly nice' parents).

Do you ignore? Tell them to toughen up and be aggressive back? Step in and have a word with the kids? Or the parents?? Is it important that kids learn to deal with this sort of behaviour, or not?

Any thoughts/experience/advice appreciated!

FrannyandZooey Mon 23-Jul-07 17:43:38

I think in this situation if the children are around the same age I would mostly leave them to it. Learning to step back in the face of aggression is actually a fairly useful life skill.

If the children were older / unaccompanied I would step in, or if the situation meant that my children couldn't go on enjoying themselves in the park (ie if they were being intimidated off ALL the equipment). I might also have a pep talk with the older one about strategies to try with this kind of problem.

saadia Mon 23-Jul-07 17:52:02

I think they are too young to be aggressive back. My ds1, now 5, was like this too, he would just avoid equipment where there were other children. They do toughen up a bit once they are at nursery and school.

Depending on what the other children are doing, I would intervene in a firm but polite way and tell them to let everyone have a turn.

Once at the park two girls were sitting at the top of a slide eating ice cream. Dss were waiting behind them to go down the slide so I said very loudly "You can have your turn as soon as these girls move" and that embarrassed them into shifting. Some "terribly nice" children are actually very domineering in these places. I have had to intervene several times and ask them directly to hurry up because others are waiting.

I think you have to give your own dss them message that they are entitled to play too and at this age you do have to help them build up their confidence without being aggressive.

saadia Mon 23-Jul-07 17:52:23

sorry dd and ds.

BrummieOnTheRun Mon 23-Jul-07 18:23:10

Tks for those thoughts. Appreciated.

The aggressive kids on both occasions have been a bit older, probably the 5-7 age range. I've told my two to just go back and ignore them, but they've been pretty frightened so I have gone and intervened with a hefty dose of sarcasm.

But I can't keep stepping in, can I? Do kids just gradually get more aggressive as they interact with other kids more? (which is a bit of a shame, isn't it...)

Maybe martial arts is the answer

HuwEdwards Mon 23-Jul-07 18:28:48

You see Brummie, you're talking of a 5yo like he/she's a teenager. My 'baby' is 5 and if you stepped in with heft sarcasm, it would fly over her head - and I would shoot you one of those looks .

biggitdad Mon 23-Jul-07 18:34:51

I would say that actually by stepping in you are pointing out to those other kids that their behaviour is unacceptable, so I would not worry about it too much and actually I think you are doing the right thing given how much older the other kids are. As you point out you are not there all the time so I think your kids will get plenty of opportunity to learn the life skills you talk about.

FrannyandZooey Mon 23-Jul-07 18:41:04

Well in that case, I think intervening when your children are scared is the right thing to do. I think you will step back as they get older, but 3.5 is not really old enough to be fighting all their own battles yet, let alone 20 m.

ChasingSquirrels Mon 23-Jul-07 18:41:15

intervention fine (to an extent, after all your lo is only 20mo and the older kids were 5-7, a big difference), but sarcasm pretty inappropriate.
I would say something which addresses what they are doing and points out that it is inappropriate (is it, or is it just that your kids are smaller? ie on a roundabout the older ones would natuarally go too fast for a 20mo, if the 20mo was on there first and the older ones come on then they should keep it at his speed, and I would let him stay on for a short while then take him somewhere else so they can go fast for a while. If however they are on the roundabout already, then I would keep ds away from it).
eg if they were pushing the younger ones I would say "we don't push, its not nice is it" etc.

princessbride Mon 23-Jul-07 18:42:58

i'm of the mind more to teach your children to be confident and self assured.....bullies dont normally target strong self assured children who have a large group of friends....

BrummieOnTheRun Mon 23-Jul-07 19:05:04

i don't think sarcasm was the right word...can barely hear myself think over cacophony of 3 kids under 4 in run up to bathtime, and must go.

comments appreciated. I wonder if all kids are little sods when your back is turned?! these parents seemed horrified at their kids it a phase they go through? seeing how far they can push it?

FrannyandZooey Mon 23-Jul-07 19:16:51

I don't think many children of this age have a fully functioning super ego

they will do what they can, to get what they want, mostly

as will most adults, depressingly

KITTENSOCKS Tue 24-Jul-07 12:05:02

Isn't it interesting that "terribly nice" parents are so busy gossiping they have no idea what their children are up to?
I always watched my son up to 6 yrs (not that he knew that!)
Whatever age the other kids are, I'd walk casually over and say loudly " there's plenty of room for everyone to play here at the same time" letting the other kids know that you're watching. If there has been pushing or physically preventing yours using the play apparatus you are entitled to tell them firmly that such behaviour is not on and the playground is for everyone to use, not just them. You are right to want to protect the 20 mo from 5-7 yo. Some of them can be really thoughtless of their actions which is what causes accidents.
I do agree that learning to step away from a potential conflict can be useful, but we all need to learn assertiveness, so if you stand a short distance from the place where the eldest wants to play you are offering support to build his confidence. If the older children challenge him he can say "why not, it's for everyone to play on" and continue knowing that he has you as back up. As he grows more confident you can step back and let him get on with it.
I have found that this approach works, because even if you have to tell other peoples children off, they don't know that you don't know their parents in order to tell on them!

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