Q. What Should I Do When My Child Gets Hit at the Playground?
A. First of all, seeing anyone act aggressively toward your child is awful, so lots of us have the instinct to GO NUTS right up front, but it’s worth pausing to consider what really happened.
- If you’re with a young child, say a toddler or preschool-age child, and a peer (someone the same age) hits your kid but doesn’t truly do any damage, start by consoling your child. You can certainly say to both children that hitting isn’t allowed, but for the most part, you should leave scolding and punishment to the other parent. Never touch another child in anger! Make a point of moving away to avoid another confrontation.
- If your toddler or preschool-age child is hurt, speak to the other parent to make sure they’re aware of what happened: “I want you to know your son just hit my daughter and now her lip is bleeding. I’d appreciate it if you would speak with him.” Leave it at that and head in another direction.
- If we’re talking about older kids, things change a bit because intent is clearer and the odds of someone getting hurt rise. If you see the incident and you’re the only parent around (as in, the offending child’s parents aren’t there), go ahead and remind him or her that hitting isn’t acceptable. Just try to think of how you’d want another adult (maybe a teacher) to speak with your child if the shoe were on the other foot: don’t yell or make threats, but speak with authority.
- If the big kid’s parents are at the playground with you, confirm that they saw what happened (if you can offer details yourself), and again here, ask them to speak with their child. No need to act holier than thou. All kids make mistakes, even “good” ones. And who knows, maybe your sweet angel was egging the other kid on? There’s never an excuse for hitting, but sometimes things are more complicated than they seem.
- If we’re talking about an altercation between big kids, and no adult was there to see it, you really have no recourse other than to tell your child to stay the hell away from that kid. If the incident happened at school, you can speak with your child’s teacher and/or principal about it, so there’s some documentation just in case it becomes a recurring issue.
- Lastly, if it’s a big kid who’s hitting your little one, you might want to consider another playground all together. Mixing toddlers with school-age kids can be a recipe for disaster and frustration for all parties. Try to stick to age-appropriate playgrounds based on the equipment and the crowds they draw.
Hope that helps!