You’ve decided to go for a family outing to the park, playground, or maybe even a local indoor play place. Your child is absolutely thrilled to be getting to go to one of their favourite places, and cannot wait to get there. Another child soon starts picking on your kid while there. What do you do?
Recently we experienced this, it was not the first time, where another child started to keep coming up to our daughter and hitting her and pushing her. Our daughter was trying to stay away from this other child, and would go to different areas to play, but the other child followed. At one point this other child even shoved our daughter into the thankfully padded fence of the toddler play area. Unfortunately our daughter still got a mark and bump on her face because there are zip ties holding the padding onto the fence. As you can imagine, that last moment was the final straw for me. I am sure it will not be the last time something like this will happen, we haven’t even enter school yet. What do you and your child do though in these situations?
- Let your child sort it out. I can only hope I have put enough common sense and knowledge into my child to use her words and say no, or stop it when situations like this come up. I hope she will know that she can go and play else where to try and get away from the other child who is being aggressive.
- Stay calm. This is more so a reminder for me as a parent to stay calm during the situation. Many of us as parents I’m sure have had the gut instinct, where you want to turn into Mama or Papa Bear. It can be incredibly difficult to remain calm when another child is being aggressive towards yours. I also want my child to remain calm during situations like this too.
- Speak up. When my daughter’s own words were not working. I spoke up when I witnessed a few of the hits, and pushes that were happening and not stopping when my daughter used her words. I could see things were continuing, and escalating. I firmly said in a calm voice “Please, no hitting or pushing. Hands to self.” The child would ran away after I said this, but did come back. This was when the shove into the fence occurred. Again I found myself speaking up, much more firmly and a little louder “You need to stop. No pushing or hitting. Hands to self.” This time the child finally ran away and left our daughter alone.
- Find the parent. If things had continued I knew I would need to find the parent or whomever was watching the child while there, I had actually already spotted who this child was with and unfortunately during the whole time there they were on their phone or looking away and talking to other parents there. They were not keeping an eye on the child they had brought to the play area. At this point, if another altercation happened I was planning to go over to the adult and mention what had happened, and that it was not okay.
During all of this, as my child grows up, I am making sure we are having conversations with her about how she should behaving around other children. Thankfully she has a very empathetic towards others and is quick to understand a situation if another child is upset, or mad. We remind her that she does need to share in some situations, and if there are things she does not want to share they need to stay at home. She knows that hitting is not an okay. Often hitting, bitting, pushing come out when children can’t find the words to express how they are feeling in a situation. We are trying to make sure she has phrases in her vocabulary to talk to other kids. Things such as “Can I play?” or “stop that” or “move please”. There is so much power in words for kids when they can express how they are feeling, or what they want to do, or see happen. I truly hope that in any situation like this, that my daughter knows she can ask for help. Either from mom and dad when they are there, or from the teacher if it is happening in a school environment. I want her to know it’s okay to ask for help, and that it is not okay to resort to violence. There really is still so much to learn, especially when there are problems at the playground.
What do you do in situations like this, would you have done anything differently?