• Playground Wars

    How Involved Should Parents Get In Toddler Toy Tussles?

    By Kristen Haas

    We’ve all been there. As your toddler bounds across the playground, he sees a toy and grabs it. The rightful owner swipes it out of his hands and starts a slapping war. Soon there is crying and yelling. Sometimes there is also an angry parent that you have to deal with. Okay, maybe you haven’t been there, but I have.

    Whenever I bring a toy with us to the playground, I know it will become a community item. Other children will pick up the toy and play with it. I’m fine with this. Dylan struggles with it, but I feel like it’s a good way to teach him about sharing. Most other parents are on the same page. Some…not so much.

    There are times that Dylan picks up another child’s toy, and the parent informs him that the toy isn’t his. This makes for an awkward situation. Not to mention, why would you bring something into a big play area, filled with different children, if you don’t want anyone to touch it except for your own child?

    On a recent excursion to the playground, Dylan spotted another child’s ball and picked it up. The ball’s owner was older, bigger and not amused. He came over and snatched the ball out of Dylan’s hands. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well. The two began slapping and pushing one another, and in the blink of an eye, they were on the ground rolling. It was almost comical to see these little rug rats get into an actual physical brawl. I immediately went to pull Dylan out of the fray. I arrived at the same time as the other boy’s father. I looked up and thought I would be greeted with some solidarity. Shockingly, the boy’s father snapped, “Excuse us!” as he whipped his son off the ground, all the while sneering at me, as if my son where to blame. Really? They are little kids! This is what they do!? I brought Dylan to another area and re-released him into the wild.

    In the end, I figured the only way to deal with these types of situations is to just do your own thing. Everyone parents differently. All you can do is what feels right for you and your child. Finding allies on the playground helps, though. If you can spot a parent who seems to share your views, try to let your kids play together. It can make for a much less stressful time at the playground–and you may make some friends for yourself.


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