Interactive Kids
Marlton, NJ 08053

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Playground Politics

What are the "rules" of the playground, not just for the kids but for the parents as well? With the recent warm weather the boys and I have been walking to the playground for some much needed energy expulsion. Usually they run around, climb, and explore, but this weekend we encountered the first of this season's playground parenting challenges.

Harry seems to gravitate toward the children who constantly run around and engage in the "grey area" behavior on the playground. A very simple example is the kids who always go up the slides regardless of who is at the top. Or the child who stands on the top of the monkey bars and jumps off. They're exciting and, as my husband puts it, doing things that Harry knows he wouldn't be allowed to do, but may be able to get away with since someone else was doing it.

On this particular encounter a little boy about 4 or so was running around calling everyone "poopy head" to which Harry thought he was the most eloquent conversationalist imaginable and followed him around like a lost puppy. This child's eyes lit up when he realized that he'd hooked Harry and continued to then take turns chasing or being chased by Harry. I wasn't able to identify this other child's parent initially, but realized that I couldn't let Harry run around yelling "poopy head" (I do teach social skills to others after all). We had a conversation about how we don't use those words because they could hurt other's feelings. As you may have expected Harry pointed to the other child and said, "but he's saying it." What else could I say, other than, "I'm not his mom." I was proud of myself, I had squashed that behavior before it could blossom. As I turned around to look up at my well behaved boy poised to go down the slide he shouted, so that attorneys in the office across the street would be able to hear, "YOU POOPY HEAD" before he slid down the slide. Completely mortified I snatched him by the arm and said (a little louder than I would have if I possessed some composure), "I don't care what anyone else is saying. Poopy head is not nice and you can sit on the bench until you can remember that." Shockingly it worked for Harry, we haven't heard that choice phrase again, but I did get a very nasty look from the father of the boy whom I had inadvertently criticized.

So was I wrong to correct my son in this manner. I don't believe I was. I actually would have been OK with someone else gently saying to Harry that it wasn't a nice thing to say. What's the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Unfortunately, I don't think that parent and I would be inhabiting the same village!

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