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Playground Patrol: When Is a Child Too Old For the Park?

Parents want to keep their tweens off the streets, but is there a time when they should stop taking them to the playground? Yesterday, we went to a neighborhood park. The structures at the location are intended for young children. At 5 and 2-years-old, my daughter and son can tackle any obstacle offered from climbing the curved bars to walking up its steepest slide.

The place was empty until a dad arrived with his sons, ages 10 and 12. The younger one started plowing through the sand where my son was playing and had my lil guy laughing and introducing himself. A minute later, the tween shouted at my son. When I asked what the problem was, he said, "Is this your kid? I don't want him talking — it bothers me." I encouraged my child to head toward the bridge where he encountered the 12-year-old boy and said, "Hi, friend." before my tot bounced across it. The kid hollered after him, "Did you call me friend, I'm NOT your friend!" While throwing sand or running in front of moving swings is one thing, a friendly soon-to-be preschooler is another. I wasn't about to tell my son that he can't be kind to children on the playground so we left. But, the situation got me thinking — is there a point when kids outgrow the park?

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domino2728 domino2728 8 years
Many non-public parks actually have age or height limits (mall play grounds, amusement parks, etc.). At public parks I think the older kids should play on the structures more suitable for their age/size. It is pretty obvious and the parents should take an active role, especially if small children are playing in the park. I agree with most everyone that stated that those boys were just plain rude. I probably would have asked them to share and to be polite and loud enough so their father could here me (but in the nicest way possible as to set a good example for my own children).
cheersdarlin916 cheersdarlin916 8 years
My son is 12 and will be 13 in a few short months and he still enjoys the playground. We don't go as often but we still go and when we are there the rule is to be careful of the little kids. I make it my son's responsibility to watch out for the little ones and as long as you teach your older kids to do that then all can play together nicely. If I feel my son and his friends are getting a little too rowdy then I ask them to move away from the little kids and play in the grass or another area. I think the dad just doesn't place any responsibilities on those boys and they can just do what they want and that is not OK.
Sarana Sarana 8 years
It was not their age that was the problem it was their upbringing. Those children were not taught manners.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
the 12 year old is probably having a hard time with something (making friends perhaps). my kids love going to the park (11, 10 and 8), but would never be mean to another child, especially a 2 year old. someties when we go to a park we see a couple of tween age kids using the equipment for a club house rather than for playing. when that happens we leave, because my oldest is severely disabled and i'm not up for rude comments, etc. to bad that happened to your family. hope your son wasn't to bothered by it.
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
i bet those kids were really obnoxious four-year-olds too. it's not about age, it's about attitude.
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
I dont think there should be an age limit. When the kids grow tired of the structures and features of a park and dont want to go is when i think its fine to stop, I was athletic and liked playing on the big park equpiment until i was pretty old. I think these kids were just rude, and a limit is kind of silly. Theyve been allowed to act poorly and i doubt its osmething they adopted once they turned 10 and 12. Theyve been doing it as long as theyve been allowed. Im kind of curious about how you knew the ages? Is that a guestimate? If you asked their ages, that would have been an opening to discuss their behavior with the adult.
dani17731 dani17731 8 years
In my neighborhood, we have the "baby park" (so dubbed by the older kids) and the "park park". I agree with others that kids should be able to play at the park until they want to stop, but I also think that the big kids and little kids should be separated. But then that begs the question, at what age do you send your kids to the "big kid park"? It's a grey area.
Akpril Akpril 8 years
A kid usually turns 10 in the fourth grade! I played at the park long after that. It's unfortunate that the kids were rude, but younger children say the same things, too. The parks are for the public, not just for little children.
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
i agree that these children sounded rude and the father should have intervened, but i also think there is an age limit for playing on the equipment in the park. going to the park is one thing but by age 10 the kidos really shouldn't be playing on structures anymore, specifically structures for your children. there are fields for older kids to play sports in or trees for them to climb and what have you...structures are for the smaller kids.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
If the dad was there why didn't you tell him what was up. I know you yelling at the boys wouldn't have helped the situation.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I am 35 and I still play at the park, and I have no children. There are going to be bad people no matter where you go , park, mall, work, school, grocery store. you just have to teach your child to deal. Ignore the brat next time.
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