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Thread: Did I over-react?(long)

  1. #1

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    Default Did I over-react?(long)

    My son and his friend (both 3) were playing on an indoor playground at the shopping centre today.
    It is an enclosed play area with high mesh "walls" and a large slide going down to an enclosed space.
    Both the boys were having a very busy time and on a couple of occasions both I and his friends mum had to intervene to ensure our 3yos weren't being too rough with other kids.
    Both boys were taken out of the play area a couple of times not because they were too rough but to calm down a little so things didn't get too wild.
    As always with those type of areas there were differing levels of supervision depending on parenting style and child requirements. There were also some very little people enjoying the space and managing to just toddle about.
    Generally it was a good place for a variety of kids to play.
    At one stage my son was too rough with another younger child who he made cry and he had to (for my parenting style) recognise why the other kid was crying, repeat what he'd done to cause the crying and he choose to say sorry. (he also gave the other kid a hug which might have been a little too much but , oh well)
    During this playtime a carer with a group of special needs adolescents attended the area. It seemed to me there was one young carer with 4 adolescents of varying disabilities. Two of those in her care had Downs Syndrome. I have no doubt this play area was a very appealing place for these young people.
    The carer allowed one of the young men she was caring for to go into the area where there were a lot of small kids playing. He went down the slide almost landing on my son then proceeded to climb up the slide (there were warnings outside asking for this not to be done).
    I was so worried he'd go down the slide again at speed and possibly hurt one of the younger kids that I went and spoke to the carer and told her that he was too big to be in the playground.
    She got extremely and immediately shirty and with ill grace told the poor young man he had to get out of the playground.
    He (of course) didn't want to get out so I went and got my son out of the way before he got injured.
    She then said I didn't have to get my son out and the young man would only have one go on the slide.
    I have no idea why she thought one potential injury was reasonable!
    Due to her reaction to my request he be removed from an area clearly not designed for a person of his size I am now wondering if it's reasonable to have my son exposed to such things.
    I totally get that the young man may not understand he is too big. I have a Downs Syndrome cousin who can be extremely stubborn (he will tell you this himself) and at around that age he wouldn't have known why he couldn't play on the playground.
    Should I have left things be and not been concerned about injury in the enclosed space, or did I do the right thing?


  2. #2

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    I don't think you overreacted. The age limits for those places (I'm assuming he would have been over the age limit) aren't for the mental age or enjoyment level or I'd be in there having a blast. It's a size thing, a teenager can easily hurt young kids on a slide in a confined space.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    Phew,
    Thanks Teeki, The friend I was with is highly non-confrontational so didn't say much.
    The worker was so cranky with me and I must admit I was fairly blunt as I was hurrying to prevent an accident.
    I hope she went back to work and had a whinge and the boss told her I was right!

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    I kind of get why she would be annoyed. My Mum worked with high-needs kids and teenagers and it certainly takes a toll. I guess she went there for a bit of a breather and was told it wasn't appropriate. But really, it wasn't, those places are designed for small children and not teenagers.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    I'm not sure what you mean by this:

    Quote Originally Posted by kateo View Post
    Due to her reaction to my request he be removed from an area clearly not designed for a person of his size I am now wondering if it's reasonable to have my son exposed to such things.
    Could you please elaborate?

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    The worker made me feel I was being unreasonable asking her to get the young man to leave the play area.
    I guess I'm wondering if I should just suck it up when using shared spaces.
    The choice is mine to not expose my son to danger by using these spaces.
    I have never been concerned before but perhaps I should be ok with this level of risk or just not use these areas
    I am VERY aware I am overprotective and try hard to allow my son to take risks
    There is really no excuse for me being overprotective except I lost his sister at full term and he is the only child I will ever have
    One of the reasons for my post was to gauge my reaction to someone "less protective".
    Due to the worker being so aggressive in her response I did wonder if I should just accept other people are ok and I am just too careful
    Jeez I hope this makes sense
    Oh and I really feel for the young man who I am surE would never have intentionally hurt anyone

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    Hi Kateo, without fully knowing the lay out of the playground it's hard to comment. I know that the indoor playground where my children go the base of the slide doesn't then lead into a play area, so children go down the slide and then basically walk out to climb back up, or go to another play space. My older children in school holidays also play in the centres, 9 is the oldest, I do watch to make sure that they are aware of smaller children. My thoughts are that if the play centre allowed the teenagers in and they paid I guess there would be an expectation that they are allowed to use the facilities. I would be taking the issue up further with the management of the centre.
    Hope that helps. I'm a Mum of 4 boys and I guess over the years I have become a lot more relaxed as boys are boys and I tend to just go with the flow (more than I did with my 1st child).

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    It was a free play area in a shopping centre. The slide base was a restrictive space with only one exit point (not an open space like in an outdoor playground)
    The area is most definitely designed for younger children. The young man in question would have been about 60kg.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    Ok, I understand what you mean - thanks for clarifying

    Look, there's always multiple sides to every scenario (waaaaay more than just two!) and I guess part of your parenting journey -- and this carer's experience, and your DS's observation of and growing awareness of things around him (and the kids with the carer, and the other parents around, and and and...) is dealing with situations as they come, and learning with them

    Having been the full time carer of special needs teens from time to time (from a week to a few months through foster care) I can say from personal experience it's such hard work. Such unbelievably hard work - and that's just from my experience doing it a little bit here and there, not as a full time long term job, or a parent. There are of course plenty of brilliant times and moments of joy - but some of the time (like with shopping expeditions, uniform runs, healthcare and food issues, to name just a few examples) it can be just so hard. My hat is completely off to people with high needs and special needs children, or people who work in the industries that care for and educate them.

    So -- if I was confident my special needs big kid wanted to go down the slide, and was sufficiently self aware that they were unlikely to hurt any of the other kids, I'd quite possibly let them have a turn, particularly if they hadn't been able to expend a bit of energy for a while, and they needed it. If they were climbing up the slide, I'd probably tell them not to (in the same way that I would my small child) and if they were being rough, I'd probably give them a warning, and explain that we'd stop playing if they didn't stop being rough (again, as I would my small child - though with a small child I'd give them a couple of warnings).

    In your initial scenario, you've mentioned that your and your friend's boy were being a bit rough and you'd needed to talk to them (we've all been there!) and so I guess I think it's similar with special needs kids- unless of course we're talking about an actual risk of harm, rather than the usual playground mess.

    There aren't facilities for special needs kids in the shops, and there aren't (to my knowledge) larger playgrounds designed for them either ... in an ideal world there would be (and hey, there'd be ones for adults too!! Bring on the grown up sized flying foxes and swings, I say!) but at the moment, there just aren't. You're lucky if there's a wheelchair swing - and even then, they're all locked up and you have to either have one of the special keys, or organise in advance for someone to come let you in. Special needs kids can need an energy burner (and their parents / carers can need a quick breather) just as much, if not more, than everyone else. And if they (as with any other child) can generally abide by the rules (other than age) then I think it can actually be a good thing. EXCEPT if someone might get hurt - in exactly the same way that if my child regularly hit or bit, I probably wouldn't let them play in those areas - if my big special needs kid wasn't able to monitor their behaviour in a way that avoided injury, it obviously wouldn't be an option. But in my personal experience, our special needs kids have been gentle giants, and very good at monitoring themselves spatially and gently around other children.

    The age rules are in my opinion generally to stop teens big kids hooning around on them - and that's not what we're talking about here. They can sometimes also be because of weight issues, and the parent/carer would obviously need to take that into account too!

    So as a parent, I choose to display some grace and take the opportunity to teach my boys about how we are built differently - whether it's someone who is visually impaired, or someone who is the same size as my boys but can't communicate much yet, or someone who is mummy's size, but inside is just like my little boys.

    If I thought my kids were going to get hurt (not just a bit of playground bumping, which they'll get from each other anyway, but actually hurt) I will absolutely intervene - as I would if it was another child, or a grown up, or whatever.

    But if I thought it was actually a good thing for my kids to see, to learn to negotiate, to expand their understanding of the world around them, to learn their (and others') limits, and to actually learn how to master the world around them (even if it's just getting along with others at the playground, and to learn to speak up if someone isn't playing nicely or is being too rough) then I would leave them to it - while keeping an eye on how they negotiate the situation.

    And then I'd speak to them about it later, to debrief and to consolidate what they learned. It might be really simple and fact based, or there might be some really curly questions at the end of it! But that's how their little minds absorb, sort and interpret stuff. And that's ok.

    If I had been concerned that my children would actually be hurt, and I spoke up and was spoken to in the way your first post reads, I reckon I would just assume that the carer has had a rough day, and (while it's not ok for it to be taken out on me) it's absolutely something which another parent might be doing anyway.

    While I wouldn't *want* that happening in front of my kids, I think again though that's something where I can teach them how we respond, even if we're angry.

    I can't say whether I'd suck it up, or whether I'd politely but firmly express my opinion - but again, if my child had questions about it afterwards, I'd want to be able to talk about it in an age appropriate way. Because goodness knows grown ups have arguments too sometimes, and grown ups disagree, but this is what we do when that happens ... etc

    So I guess I'd be thinking about:-

    1. what is the risk / danger? Is it greater than a standard busy playground? Is it something that would be ok in a different setting but not here?

    2. what are the benefits / opportunities? (I really want my kids to know their boundaries etc, and to be exposed to a range of things - I think they will learn to think for themselves and play safely much faster that way, and I want them to have a good sense of their limits of play etc before the school playground, sports etc all descend)

    3. what is my behaviour teaching them (am I being caring? inclusive? how am I speaking? what am I saying?)

    4. how is my child responding? do they look worried? should I talk with them first, to gauge that first, or are they totally fine, and I'm the only concerned one?


    And at the end of the day - I am the parent. If I am not satisfied it's safe, either we or the perceived danger must go. Bottom line - I'm going to look after my kids. As will you


    So I'm not sure if you over reacted - I was not there, I didn't see how the kids were playing, etc. But it's good to voice your thoughts, and talk about it

    What does your child say? It might be interested to hear what was going on from their perspective - it might help clarify yours.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Did I over-react?(long)

    Yes I can picture those (I was thinking the big indoor playgrounds that have the really large slides) In that case then yes I think what you did was more than appropriate and I would have done the same. I have a pet hate for people allowing children to walk up slides when they are kids waiting to slide down them. That is one thing my boys get told not to do all the time....many other parents don't share my thinking though

    And from memory I know the one at my shopping clearly states for children 6 and under....so in that case my older children are definitely not allowed on

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