Mall Play Area Politics

The mall play area. Breeding ground of germs, head lice, and bullies in the making. What's not to love? With few choices in the winter, Hubs and Big One headed to the mall play area Thursday night. Big One was able to burn off energy. I was able to put Little One to bed without a screaming 3 year old in the next room. And Big One was able to avoid all of the little germs and bugs that infest the average mall play area.

The bullies? Not so lucky. How does a young child learn to be a bully? Apparently another little boy claimed the tree slide as his own. Big One unknowingly encroached upon his territory. The little boy shoved Big One off of the stairs. OK, so it's only 3 or 4 stairs high. And the floor is soft. But still!

I try not to be the hovering mom. And generally I'm more worried about Big One accidentally bumping into someone else or not paying attention to what he's doing. And there was the one time when he called some other kids Stinkers. He got in trouble for that too. But I try to stand back and let him handle things himself. But as boisterous as he is, his feelings are easily hurt and I can't help but be there to pick up the pieces. I was not there but Hubs just steered Big One to a different part of the play area.

So how do you handle situations where other kids are aggressive toward yours? Hubs said the child's parent didn't say anything. So either he was there unattended, the parent wasn't paying attention, or the parent just didn't care. Do you say something to the child? Look for the parent? Let it go? I have a feeling had I been there I would have told the little boy he needed to move so my son could go down the slide. I wouldn't have lectured him but I would have said something about letting other kids on the slide. I'm not so good at biting my tongue when it comes to my kids. I'll go all Mama Bear if the situation warrants. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience and how you handled it. I know kids aren't perfect (I have the bloodshot eyes and gray hair to prove it). But I make sure Big One knows he won't get away with treating others poorly. Thoughts?


AnastasiaSpeaks said...

My husband and I have talked about this A LOT. Not just what to do ourselves but what to tell our children to do in such a situation: 1) tell them to stop pushing you and walk away 2) tell a grown up or 3) push back. My husband thinks that you should never do number 3, no fighting period. I think that in certain situations where the bully keeps doing it and doing it because he knows you won't push back then maybe they should push back? No one really over here really agrees with me on this.

But going back to your situation. I would have gone over and said something gently to the other boy and tried to see if the boy allowed my son to go down the slide too. Something like "hi, sweetheart, it's not nice to push other people off the slide. Why don't we take turns. You can go down the slide now and then next Big One will go." I've done with before when there is no other mother to moderate. IT's absolutely appropriate to say something to another kid as long as you're respectful and motherly to the other kid.

Sorry for rambling. I could talk about this issue all day. I believe in standing up for yourself but also I understand that we are raising boys to be respectful and gentle.

jen@odbt said...

I love what you said about going "all Mama Bear" b/c so many times that's what I want to do when I see a child being 'mean' to mine. But I also have to remind myself that I've been teaching my kids how to deal with these types of situations. I tend to over compensate when my child is at fault...I put them in timeout, make them apologize, etc. In this situation, I probably would have said something to the boy and to his parent. That is unacceptable to shove anyone.

We were at the park last summer when a boy kicked my daughter off the bottom of the slide. She ended up falling back into the corner of a metal picnic table. She got quite a goose egg and I wanted so badly to find this child and his parent and give them a piece of my mind. Fortunately (for everyone) he ran off and my daughter could not identify him. If I had been there, I would definitely said something to the child and found his parent too b/c of the injury to my own.

I teach my kids to be respectful and considerate of others. Yes, I'm sure there are times when that goes out the window but I hope they always remember to treat others like they want to be treated.

Melody said...

Well, one time my play group was at the mall play area and we witnessed a child that did not belong to any of us beating on another child. Finally after a few minutes of realizing the parent were not paying any attention a mom from our group went over and stopped it.

I watch my kids like a hawk for that very reason. I think your husband handled the situation well.