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the eric update - day 697: tragedy of the commons.

as much as we'd not like to have odin associate the mall with hanging out and goofing around, since we'll likely come to regret it when he reaches The Teen Years, it provided the closest and dryest play area after we were suprised to find ourselves running around a local park when black clouds arrived with a 20 degree F temperature drop, thunder claps and a very credible threat of torrential rain.

and the play area in the mall can actually be a fun time, except when it's not. such as today, when after a few minutes after arriving a rag-tag group of older boys arrived arrived and thought it would be a grand idea to crawl in the tunnel under the tree and scream at the top of their lungs directly in the faces of the unsuspecting kids crawling by. odin happened to be their first victim, but i was just a few feet away and quickly scouped him up, his face ashen and frozen with fear, and managed to avoid A Meltdown. as we sat for a minute to gather our wits, we watched as toddler after toddler ran out of the tunnel screaming, frantically searching for Someone Safe.

i'm not normally one to get all up in another parent's grill about their parenting skills, but i looked around trying to find someone who might be responsible for them to honestly ask them if they thought the kid's behavior was something they thought was appropriate. but alas, i couldn't find them before odin let me know that he'd really rather be somewhere else. we could still hear the hooligans screaming hundreds of feet away as we bought some comfort food in the form of a chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk.

so i ask teh internets, what's the appropriate course of action when you encouter a similar situation? just leave? kindly ask the offenders to stop? seek out the other parents/caregivers and ask them as nicely as possible if they could pretty please get their demon spawn to stop tormenting the other children?

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6/02/2006 08:51:00 PM 11 comments

11 Comments:

Two words: Mall Security. That's what their there for.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 PM  

Honestly, I would probably have told the kids that what they were doing was wrong and given them a choice to stop or I would find someone (i.e., mall security or their parents) to make them stop.

It's hard and depends. Some situations I leave, especially when it's just my kid that's been harassed, but when more than one child is being harassed and no one is taking action to stop them, I feel the need to make it stop.

I also fully expect to have some spawn of hell's parent come screaming in my face some day for having had the audacity correct their child.

By Blogger Eve Hermann, at 12:13 AM  

I find that kids typically (not always) respond to polite requests to stop disruptive behavior. You could try saying, "Hey, there are a lot of little kids playing here who are getting kind of scared with the loud noises. Do you think you guys could quiet down so they can play, too?" and if they're rude or don't respond then, "I'm going to get security to come over and help out here. Sorry we couldn't work this out together." and then *call security* (pet peeve of mine is when adults threaten to do something and then don't follow through).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 AM  

Just so you know, the older Odin gets and the more you have to deal with him as a talking person, the easier it gets to talk to other kids.

By Blogger Eve Hermann, at 12:53 AM  

I have no problem "talking" to other people's children. If they are behaving inappropriate you need to point it out to them. Sometimes kids respond better to "other" adults besides their own parents when it comes to situations like this. And if a parent gets in your face, you just tell them what the issue is and then walk on.

By Blogger barbandmark, at 11:18 AM  

I'm usually too much of a coward to say anything direct unless the child is causing an immediate danger to others. I would worry they’d have a parent nearby who is ready to unsheathe their claws on me because I corrected their innocent little Johnny who was just trying to have fun.

Instead, I might try “The Look” where I position myself directly in their line of sight and just stare. Usually they get uncomfotable enought to quit. I’ve also said to my child loudly enough for them to hear, “Oh, it’s too bad those older kids are being so mean. They shouldn’t do that. Shall we try and find their parents?” Or if that doesn’t work, I might try, “I thought I just saw mall security walk by – maybe we should what he/she thinks about those boys being so mean?” With my older child I’ve commented, “See how much that hurts the little kids’ feelings? I’m so proud that you are playing so nicely with your friends.” But that’s just my wimpy way of handling it. I like the other suggestions people have given.

By Blogger LynAnne, at 4:35 PM  

i'd actually just send a letter to mall management describing the incident and reminding them that unsupervised children are a serious liability and they should either have supervision or require parental supervision. for instance, what would have happened if the older children hurt one of the toddlers through their actions.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 AM  

I guess it depends on the ages of the children. From reading your post I assume they were in the 7-10 year old range for some reason. If I didn't see any responsible adults for them, I'd politely yet firmly let them know that that behavior isn't nice/acceptable/yada yada yada. If some parent got in a huff, I'd simply have to ask why they weren't watching their own children and doing the parenting themselves. And I'd probably tell mall security too. Isn't there usually a guard right there by the play areas?

We had a bad incident at a play area when another toddler who was younger bit Magdalena in the arm and almost drew blood. The mother came up to me and said something along the lines of "she does this all the time, but what am I going to do? She's only a year old, it isn't like she understands." I was red hot hot hot, never once did she offer up an apology. If I can teach my 1 year old, 2 year old, whatever to not bodily harm another person, so can she! And the OP are right, the older the child gets, the harder it is to keep them safe from other mean kids in the big bad world. :(

By Blogger Suzanne, at 12:09 PM  

Now, I would do as others suggested and politely ask the older children to stop, with an explanation of why. What brought me to this point is the day another toddler followed my 2yo son through the library, taking every book he chose out of his hand. After the 4th book, my son burst into tears and looked at me with "Why aren't you protecting me??" writ large on his face. Never again--now I stick up for my kids when they can't do it for themselves, no matter how hard it may be for me.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:04 PM  

"It takes a village to raise a child"

You are part of that village even when you didn't have Odin. When you see kids behaving in this manner you have a responsibility to address it.

I always try talking calmly and positively to the kids first. Give them the benifit of the doubt. Usually it works.

Compliment sandwich type thing...

"Guys I can see you are really having fun here. Good to see you enjoying the place. I do think that you guys are a little old to be hanging here scaring the little kids. Maybe you could show the little kids some fun things you use to do when you were their age. "

At this point they usually have stopped listening and want you to go away. They know you will talk to them again if they start up so the usually just leave.

I don't believe in getting in people's faces about things. I really think we need to learn and teach good communication skills. Odin, watching what you do, will learn how to handle conflicts and awkward situations from your behaviour.

If you came home and grumbled about it and did nothing...what example does that set to Odin. Is that what you would want him to do when he is in a situation like that? Certainly there are times to walk away...but that wasn't one of them. I do understand learning the "protocol" of the playground. LOL! Good for you for seeking the wisdom of sages..LOL!

toodles

HeatherM

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:48 AM  

Here are two scenarios, you can decide which one may be the more likely one that I'd follow through with*:

(A) I tell the marauders that they can kiss the next 12 years worth of tooth fairy $ donations goodbye. Oh, and the next seven years' worth of holiday gifts? They'll be coming directly from the Island of Misfit Toys, Back Alley edition.

(B) I address the children directly and firmly, letting them know that their behavior is unacceptable and that they must stop *now*. Yeah, I'd be the one to crawl up there with them to "play" with 'em until the game just isn't so much fun anymore.

* there is no proper answer. Both are correct.

By Blogger McBeth, at 2:08 AM  

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