It might be because I’m a relative newbie at the this parenting thing but some of the rules on playground etiquette still have me puzzled. That said, after nineteen months of experience, I have managed to come to three conclusions:
- Unattended trucks/ balls/ buckets/ spades etc are fair game. If the monster doesn’t have to wrestle it out of another toddlers grip then he can play with it. All ‘borrowed’ toys should be returned to where they were found or to their rightful owner should they desire possession earlier.
- If your little one is holding up the line for the slippery slide you should endeavor to coax them down as quickly as possible. This is rarely a problem for us as the monster is more the launch head first at the earliest convenience type kid anyway.
- Have snacks ready, always. This is to prevent that awkward moment where the whole playground is staring in your direction because the monster just stole another child’s last tiny teddy thus causing total toddler meltdown.
While these three rules tend to see me through most playground encounters when it comes to the physical stuff I come unstuck. I’ll be the first to admit that the monster can be a total terror. He hits, bites, pushes, and kicks. But because he is like that I’m always conscious of his interactions with others at the playground and I’m there ready to intervene when he starts to get pushy at the play coffee machine (a favourite at our local park). I always apologise to the child and parent, ask Lachie to say sorry (he doesn’t yet, but I will persist) and then encourage the correct behaviour (sharing, being gentle etc). If he keeps being physical then we leave. I know kids will be kids, they push and shove and sometimes bite each other but I still feel awkward about it probably because it is usually the monster being the aggressor.
And what about when it’s your child that’s coping it from another, usually bigger, kid? The monster is pretty robust so I’m normally pretty relaxed if he is getting pushed around a little. I think it’s important that he learns how to deal with it on his own and as long as the other childs parent is there to intervene I’m happy to let it play out. What gets me is when the parents either aren’t present or do nothing. Should you discipline their child in the same way you would your own? Is it better to say nothing and simply leave? But how is that fair to your own little one?
I’d love to hear how you deal with playground conflict.