Lessons from the playground


Kyle loves going to the playground. Probably most kids his age do.

I used to like going to the playground with him…until lately.

The usual playground we went to was fine till he got spat on by another child. It's tough to be in that child's parent's shoes at that moment, but I was irate nonetheless when it happened to Kyle. I quickly cleaned Kyle up while I waited for the parent to prompt the child to apologise to Kyle or turn to me with an apology, but there was none forthcoming, except an exasperated look on the parent's face. The parent went on berating the child loudly, then the child took off into a distance while the exasperated parent went after her.

The child and parent were chinese nationals by the way. I am not one who will start ranting about our government's immigration policies but it still shocked me how some parents (regardless of their nationality) fail to take their child in hand and address the misbehaviour at that moment.

So I am always standing at the sidelines watching Kyle, sometimes barking instructions to him, making sure that he is safe and does not show aggressiveness and is polite to other kids. 

That experience did not turn him or me off visiting playgrounds in malls or hdb estates, but lately another experience at the playground in our estate make me feel quite nervous about bringing him to the playground.

It was our first time at our estate's playground.

He saw 2 older kids playing, a boy who was likely in 6 or 7 with his older sister who was 9 or 10, whose grandma just left them to play by themselves.. Being quite a sociable child, Kyle will normally approach other kids in the playground, say hi and introduce himself, then ask if they could play together. Everything seemed to be going well until they started playing tag around the playground. The boy and his sister, who were older and more agile easily dodge Kyle's clumsy attempts to tag them, climbed onto the playground structure and started chanting this in unison, taunting Kyle as he tried to chase them, "Little pig, little pig, you are so slow, you can't chase me."

Maybe I am being overly sensitive, but I cannot tolerate name-calling amongst children. I took offence at the word 'pig' that they used, not that I have to take kosher or halal food for religious reasons. I love my minced pork, xiao long paus, barbeque pork, tau yew bak and all. But I think that kids who are older really should not be calling a younger child names, mocking him just because he seemed slower or less agile than they are. 

Maybe it is just childish banter, but for me, it is pure lack of respect for individual differences and plain bad manners.

So what I did I do? I just kept quiet, watching nervously at the sidelines, as I realised that Kyle was oblivious to the name calling and was still having fun.

Until the play got disrupted by another 9 or 10 year old boy who came to join them at the playground and cajoled the younger boy to stop his play with Kyle and play with him. The younger boy said, "I am playing catching with him (referring to Kyle)." While the older boy's reply was, "But he is so small…" With that, the younger boy just ran off with the older one without saying a word to Kyle. While I spotted the  disappointment in my son's eyes.

It is heartbreaking to see him get disappointed or hurt but I need him to deal with situations like these. I will intervene if he looks like if he is going to be hurt by another child or if he is going to be physically aggressive, but otherwise I keep my butt glued to the bench.

I waited for him to walk back to me and and he stayed really quiet throughout. I only said this to him when we were walking away from the playground, "Some boys are like that. We need to tell our friends that we are going to stop playing and not just walk away without saying a word or even saying goodbye. It is not nice and not polite."

I told hb about the whole incident and his response was, "The boys who live in private estates are usually very bratty," that's coming from someone who spent his pre-teen and teen years growing up in a condo.

I am still hoping to spot that little boy that is about the same age as Kyle each time I sneak glances at the playground whenever we are downstairs. Maybe another day I will muster enough courage to bring him to the playground when he asks for it. Until then, we will be contented cycling or taking walks around the estate in the evenings.

I miss the playground at our old home, sometimes, we may encounter that errant kid who spits but at least we don't get kids like that. 

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  1. I am also very vigilant when I bring my kids to playgrounds or play areas. My tolerance level for kids who bully is very low. I will not tolerate pushing and like you, I will not tolerate name-calling. Oh yes, some parents will say, “Aiya, kids are kids, let them be…” but I think that if you don’t nip this destructive behaviour in the bud, you’re going to get grown-up bullies.
    Many a time, I have reprimanded kids who I deem to bully my kids, by not waiting their turn and pushing. And I will later reinforce to my kids that that is not the correct behaviour.

    Sorry for the long comment…but hey, I think Kyle would play along very nicely with my kids, donchafinkso? :)
    .-= giddy tigressĀ“s last blog ..Food Waste Friday: Success and Mooncake Boxes =-.

    Oh yes, for sure. So when u coming to Singapore? Maybe we can meet up with the kids šŸ˜‰ Totally agree with u that kids who get away with ‘innocent’ name calling will tend to grow up to bully other kids. Plus it is extremely hurtful…especially when some kids are more sensitive. The problem with some parents and grandparents is that they always overlook behaviour like that and think that it is harmless…but it tends to develop into a something worse when the kids grow bigger.

  2. we just had quite an encounter at the playground earlier as well. This little boy whom I believe is Missy’s age was so much more aggressive than Little Man, he grabbed my son by his shirt and try to make him stop bec Little Man was running around (playing tag with that boy as well). I wasn’t too happy about the boy’s behaviour, while his parents watched on and were just laughing at the whole incident but I kept quiet and see what the boys were up to next (perhaps i was also too sensitive). But the boy started yelling weird words at my daughter and then at Little Man and seemed to be enjoy shouting at my kids, I decided it’s time to get going. I didn’t want my kids to be having a shouting match with this younger boy and learn to sprout nonsense as the boy did in the event.

    Sometimes, I wonder what some of these parents are thinking about. Are they so nonchalant to their kids’ behaviour that they didn’t think it was a big deal when the kid is obviously not behaving correctly. Or am I just being too uptight?
    .-= mamablissĀ“s last blog ..My Little Missy the "Singer" =-.

    I don’t think u are being uptight, cos I think kids like that will grow up to be bullies. Parents like these tend to overlook these negative behaviours and then use the child’s age as a reason when they allow the kid to continue. Allowing them to perpetuate the behaviour is the same as encouraging them, and implying that it is alright to be aggressive towards other kids (in the context of play), yell wierd names etc. Loving a child is also knowing how to discipline them when they misbehave…alot of people mix up love as not reprimanding or disciplining in the fear of ‘hurting’ the kids. I guess these parents will not realise until their child grows up to taunt or beat up weaker kids in school, then wonder why their kids turn out this way.

  3. Some children are really out of the control & will treat the playground like their “territory”. Personally, I hardly bring my kids to the playground so when they do get a chance to play, they are extremely excited about it. When I see some children who are not too friendly, too rowdy or have the tendency to bully other children, I will try to tell my children to go elsewhere to play just to prevent them from getting hurt. I dunno if my action is correct or not but personally I think it’s better in order to prevent them from getting hurt coz they are still at a stage where they dunno how to protect themselves.
    I guess that is part of the reason why recently we sent our eldest son to learn (wing chun) chinese martial art to gain some self-defensive technique. Then he will know how to protect himself here or overseas when someone tries to tackle him..haha! At least he also has a skill to protect his siblings too.
    .-= AmieĀ“s last blog ..Selamat Hari Raya & Happy Mid-Autumn Festival !!! =-.

    I think it is normal to be protective of your kids. i get very nervous when I see much bigger children at the playground and when Kyle wants to play with them. I usually don’t stop him but I do worry that they tend to be too rough or will hurt him. For sure I hope that there will be less negative experiences, but I tend to take this negative experience to teach him how not to behave or illustrate how bad the behaviour is. That way, he is able to experience it for himself and be reminded not to behave the same when he encounters other kids during play.

  4. Think it must have took a lot of will power on your part not to scold that child or something! Haha but I agree. I think it were to happen to my girl, I’ll probably not do anything too even though I wld probably really want to.
    .-= MadelineĀ“s last blog ..Waterplay at Jurong East Swimming Complex =-.

    Oh yes it did. I think if he started getting physically aggressive I would have done something about it for sure.

  5. I think I will just let go….which I just did the other day at the playground when some kids try to push their way through at the slide. My 23 month toddler loves to play at the playground but he is definitely not ready to fend for himself…neither can he judge when situation becomes dangerous…so what I did was went up to the kid and told him to stop pushing and wait for his turn….the kid actually pushed me and I gave him that killer stare but I doubt it works haha the maid was around, like most kids but did nothing and said nothing…

    For Malcolm he is older and has grown to be very good at differentiating which are the nice and not nice kids..these days in school, he will report to the teacher if other kids try to do funny things to him…but the rule remains…give warning first and if unheeded…he is free to choose what to do :)

    I don’t want to generalise this statement, but I notice most of these kids that misbehave at playgrounds usually have their maid with them or are solely taken care of by their grandparents. I suppose misbehaviour like that usually perpetuates when no one corrects them on the spot.

    I think it is easier for Malcolm to discern, afterall I am sure there are lots of aggressive kids in primary school. Good way that he is managing this…primary school kids need to know how to fend for themselves in school against bullies, parents can be looking out for them all the time.

  6. I think the playground can be a breeding ground for bad influences. Older kids frequent the playground near my place (without their parents so there was no control over their behaviour). Ever since I heard them swearing at each other, I am reluctant to bring Ethan there. I’m sure he’ll be exposed to this kind of vocabulary when he goes to Primary school so I might be overprotective here. But it’s quite unpleasant hearing expletives coming from the mouths of children. And of course with the swearing comes aggressive behaviour.

    But he loves the playground and only enjoys it when there are lots of kids there. No fun playing alone. So my only other option is indoor playgrounds but they are expensive :(
    .-= JoceĀ“s last blog ..Label Me Not =-.

    You are right, as there are all sorts of kids of various upbringing that go to the playground. I will not bring Kyle to the playground to as well if the kid starts swearing…although it might pose a good teaching opportunity. For sure our kids are going to hear people swearing sometime down the road, so why not expose them and then explain that words like that are terrible, rude and not acceptable in our family.