Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monitoring Other Peoples' Kids?

My question of the day for other adults: When do you step in and "discipline" other peoples' kids at the playground? When a couple of grade schoolers are calling each other n***ers in front of your toddler son? When teenagers are playing a rambunctious game of tag on the toddler playground while it's full of little kids and their parents? When two four-year-olds shove your daughter and yell, "We don't like you! Go away!" When said four-year-olds start a mulch war and your own son immediately copies them? So far, the only time I've stepped in and said something was when Norah's safety was being directly threatened by the shoving (even though the kids' parents were sitting on the sidelines and saw their kids pushing my toddler). "Disciplining" is the wrong word - I just told them Norah was too young to play like that and they needed to leave her alone.
I would certainly hope that another adult would step in and kindly correct my kids if they were misbehaving out of my sight. I don't see that happening often on the playground though and I don't really know what the unspoken rules are. As a teacher, I'm used to assuming that it's my responsibility to monitor large groups of kids, so letting bad behavior go feels weird to me. At the same time, I spend my work days policing large groups of kids and sometimes alienating them in the process, so I'd rather not have to do it during outings with my kids. What is your rule of thumb?
Happily, we've had plenty of fun at playgrounds recently. The weather here has been phenomenal and we've taken advantage of it. Here are a few more pictures:
This mulch was not fun to get out of her hair.
An upside of our side-by-side double stroller is that the kids can hold hands and exchange hugs whenever they want. The downside is that only Norah gets these impulses and Atticus doesn't appreciate her infringing on his personal space.
Finally, a picture of Norah "coloring" since I don't have many good pictures of her from the playgrounds.


Meg said...

Wow, that's a tough one. Just to start though I'm not a mom yet (3 1/2 months on the waiting list for siblings under 36 months). I think if I were in your situation I would speak to the parents and tell them that their kids behavior isn't appropriate. Where my children are involved (especially toddlers where they are so helpless) I would not have a problem being the uncool or unpopular mom. If the parents refused to understand your point of view I would absolutely discipline out of control older children, as their parents clearly haven't.
I think you are doing a great job of balancing it all, though.
I guess to answer your question, I think you are well within your rights to bring out your "teacher" on the playground...

lindsay said...

I would have stepped in during your outing with anything around my kids (the pushing, specifically). I'd rather intervene and alienate parents then have my kids hurt or copying negative behaviors. I'm an "other mother" on the playground, but it often seems that parents are busy socializing and not paying attention. I am all for communal parenting, though I suppose that may change if I feel my kids were not being treated well by other parents.

Alexandra said...

Pretty tough, but I come from the school of thought that it takes a village and I have no problems saying "That's not nice," or "Please take your rough games elsewhere." My first thought however is safety, followed by ensuring that my kid doesn't mimic bad behavior. I don't jump in whenever my kid is unhappy in a social interaction - I usually try to make them work it out. But very vulgar language and violent behavior are probably two things that I jump in on. Similarly when I am at someone's house and K doesn't say please, thank you, etc., I have no problems when adults correct her manners gently .

Btw, these pictures are adorable. Is it possible that your kids get cuter and cuter?