Big Kids on Toddler Turf -- Should You Make Them Leave?

Cynthia Dermody
24

playground bulliesBig kids and tweens love to hang out at the playgrounds in my town, and I'm pretty sure that even teens haunt the space in the evening, judging by all the beer bottles and potato chip bags I find there in the mornings. Grrrr, that makes my blood boil ... but the real reason I bring this up is because big kids hanging out at parks and play areas often intimidate toddlers and littler kids.

It's a tough one. Whether you are 4 or 44, you should be able to swing or go down the slide at a public playground if you want to. Who has the right to say someone else can't be there?

But another mom was wondering whether a particular group of kids in her neighborhood have crossed the line, and wrote of her frustrations with big kids talking trash at the playground in a Journal.

As babymama8505 tells it,

"The past two nights my 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have been going to the park near our apartment, and both nights there have been a group of four 3rd to 5th grade boys playing on the equipment, talking dirty, and swearing.

"My girls didn't want to go on the play structure because those boys were running around on there.

"I am wrong in thinking that they shouldn't be on there at all? I mean, they weren't using the slides or monkey bars, they were just playing some dumb game. I think they should leave it for the little kids who actually want to use the slides and play."

 

Here's how two moms answered, advice I'm going to take with me on my next trip to the park:

-- "I think that 3rd to 5th graders have a right to be there. What drives me nuts is the teenagers who climb onto the roof of the structures and take over the place!

"As for their language, look at them directly and tell them "that language is inappropriate around little kids."  Maybe some "shame" will make them stop. No one is calling them on their behavior, just avoiding them,  which gives them far too much power and control." -- busywithkids

-- "Look them right in the eyes and don't take your eyes off of them, make them feel "watched," and if they cuss tell them to knock it off.  They might gripe but no punk kids like to be watched by a parent.  If there is more than one parent there, see if you can work together to run them off.

"I don't think they should be there if they act like that. They can hang out on the picnic tables or something. Those kinds of kids drive me crazy... where are their parents?" -- we2angels

++How do you handle foul-mouthed and boisterous big kids at the playground? Do you tell them to leave or keep your toddlers at a safe distance? At what age will you tell your kids that they are too old to "hang out" at the playground?

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