October 19, 2004

Ethics of Play

On one of my favorite e-mail lists we are having a discussion on the proper ethics of playground behaviour Specifically it deals with one very sweet, very polite, child who tried to join a game on the playground, was rejected, possibly because he was so polite, and teased, though he was too young and innocent to realized he was the being made fun of.

One aspect of the conversation intrigued me; the person put forth her ideas that there should be no exclusivity on a playground. If a child wanted to join the game s/he should be allowed to join the game; not to allow someone in the game was rude behaviour.

My feeling is that the playground is the only place for some children to play and people have a right to exclusivity. it hurts, it shouldn't be done cruelly.

And that got me wondering; what do you feel are the rules, unstated, of a playground? I'm talking about beyond the no fighting rule.

Should anyone who asks be allowed to join a game? Should there be a time limit on how long one group of kids occupies a specific area? How do you as parents negotiate a turn on the slide or the tetter-totter? What age is too old for a child to be on the equipment in a playground? Do the older kids, teens and such, have a tendency to monopolize the park, marginalizing the younger set?

We didn't use the park that much when my kids were young and when we did not encounter any real problems. But I know this is a bone of contention among many and I wonder how you all handle the situation.

Posted by Rachel Ann at October 19, 2004 05:48 PM

I come down on the side with your friend who said no exclusivity. All the games should be open. Just like all the toys and rides are. At least for me, it is too hurtful to see my little ones pushed away.

Posted by: RP at October 19, 2004 09:43 PM

This is a problem I have faced too ! My boy is shy and 'very' polite, not one to push his way in any game..and it can get very lonesome for such children. I personally have never intervened, leaving the kids to negotiate for themselves and 'learn' so to say how to deal with problems. The only time I have intervened was when a child mine or otherwise gets physically pushed around. As parents I do feel that we should encourage children to let other children join and discourage any exclusivity and encourage the feeling of cooperation and friendliness in them.

Posted by: Pincushion at October 20, 2004 11:16 AM

I hear you, Pincushion. My son has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of mild autism. He has had to be taught every aspect of social interaction he has learned, he does not understand innuendo, much less child cruelty. Most children are too immature to understand how to reject someone without hurting their feelings.

We stopped going to parks and that sort of places because of the way other children would treat him when he'd go up to them. Why put him through that kind of rejection? The parents weren't any better.

Posted by: Moi ;) at October 20, 2004 01:05 PM
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