Saturday, 5 April 2014

Modelling behaviour

We went to a playground today that we haven't been to before. It's especially designed for children with additional needs, and we've been really looking forward to going for several weeks. Peter had a great time overall, but the behaviour of some of the other playground-users prompted me to write this post. It wasn't the children, but the parents!

During our two hours there, Peter was pushed off a tricycle, spat on, kicked, had his hair pulled, had a toy he was really enjoying snatched from him and was shouted at. All were unprompted attacks, and he didn't retaliate. None of the parents did anything, and they were all right next to their child at the time.

Now, I'm not judging your parenting for your child's behaviour. I appreciate that your child is not being "naughty", I understand that right now they may have a lack of impulse control, they live in the present and don't understand consequences, their underdeveloped communication skills mean that they are unable to listen to reason when they are focussed on something that they want, and they act from emotion without thinking. That's my child too. That is absolutely no excuse for not modelling appropriate responses. If an incident occurs, all it needs is:

Simon pushes Peter off the trike and then spits on him and kicks him.
Simon's mum "Simon that wasn't nice, that hurt the little boy. It's your turn on the trike next." (to us) "Is he ok? I'm sorry that happened."

As it was, we barely got eye contact and "Simon" wasn't spoken to at all except a half-hearted "stop it".

We ended up saying each time, out of earshot so it didn't sound like we were trying to correct someone else's child - "That boy didn't make a good choice - it's not nice to *insert action* and you were very kind not hitting him back." We mostly avoided the other children from then on by playing outside when they were inside and vice versa.

There's just no need for that to happen, I would have been absolutely mortified if it had been Peter attacking someone. If you know there's a risk of your child being violent to another child, surely you need to stay nearby to anticipate any trigger points and act first.

We go to "Special Needs" venues because they're generally quieter and safer, to avoid the risk of Peter being picked on for being different, and to meet and chat with other parents who understand and are going through the same things. We're quite disappointed that they didn't seem to be at this particular place.

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