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How to Deal with Rude Kids on Playground

What do you do when other children are being mean to your child on the playground and their moms are just standing there not doing anything, not saying anything? Yesterday we were at the park and a group of boys a little bit older than my son was pushing him out of the way, saying rude things, and just being mean in general. Their moms were right there, and not once did any of them tell their kids to be polite or even get onto them for bullying. The same thing happened today at the mall playground. There were 2 girls that my son was trying to play with and they kept yelling at him to go away. He just stood there hurt, then after I kept telling him to just find other kids to play with b/c they weren't being very nice, he said he just wanted to go home. It breaks my heart to watch my very friendly son try so hard to make friends and see these other kids doing everything they can to exclude him. When I was a kid, if I had acted like these kids, my mother would've chewed me out and reminded me how important it was to be nice to people. I'm so frustrated and disappointed and don't know how to handle this at all. Perhaps b/c my son and I both have a disability that makes us a little different, and I was terribly bullied all throughout my childhood, I'm overly sensitive, but it just doesn't seem right to me to not do or say anything and watch my son get treated badly.
I should add that I do say something to the children who are being rude. It's usually something like, "That's not nice." I also tell my son that those kids aren't using their manners and that he should try to make friends with kids that are being nice. I usually say this rather loudly in the hopes that the moms will then say something. I'm actually a pretty confrontational person; I suppose I just wanted to know if it was still appropriate for me to be intervening, and at what age should I just let him handle it himself. Thanks for all the responses so far.

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Thanks for posting this. My 4 year old son is also at risk for getting bullied. He is way behind in motor skills and is just plain nice. He dosen't know how to stand up for himself. I feel really bad for him sometimes and I know how you feel. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this - I am interested in the responses myself. It can be a real mean world and its just sad that it starts so early!


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Hi T.!
I would like to say that I think it is horrible that people today do not teach children manners! Your child has every right to play on that playground and you should not just go somewhere else!
I think you were completely right in asking the other children to watch out for your son however, do not sink to their level by being snotty! Teach your child manners and respect for others and he will learn the right way to grow-up. He will quickly learn how to treat others and how he wants to be treated and his strength will come from within. Knowledge is power and in the end the mean/snotty kids loose because they don't get the privledge on knowing what a great friend your son is!

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Thanks for posting this. My 4 year old son is also at risk for getting bullied. He is way behind in motor skills and is just plain nice. He dosen't know how to stand up for himself. I feel really bad for him sometimes and I know how you feel. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this - I am interested in the responses myself. It can be a real mean world and its just sad that it starts so early!


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On multiple occasions I have intervened to tell an older larger child (whose caregiver is not paying attention) that he/she needs to be careful around my 2-year-old son. (Usually they're running too fast and not paying attention, roughhousing, climbing *over* him etc).

In my opinion, if a parent or nanny is not doing their job, they don't really have a right to be mad at me for looking out for my kid. (and really, even if they were annoyed at me I'm not sure how much I would care - this is not the type of parent or child we'd likely be friends with). Once my son gets a little older I will work with him so that he knows how to look out for himself. But when kids are younger they need their parents to look out for them.

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This kinda thing has happened a few times with my daughter. A couple of times at our playground and once at a mall play area. I have no problem approaching the parent and asking them to please intervene with their child and take care of the problem. If they don't and there is a repeat incident I don't have a problem intervening myself and telling the child that what they are doing isn't very nice and please don't do it again. I've also had a talk with my daughter and explained to her when someone is mean to her she has the right to stand up for herself and tell that child that he/she isn't being nice. Good luck!

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Hi T.,

I saw the same thing when my daughter was younger. Mean kids and oblivious parents. I once said something and a mother told me that the kids need to learn to work it out themselves. That's true, BUT I don't think that's true for kids so young.

Just try to redirect your son or take him to a different park or schedule playdates with kids you know he gets along with.

I think we can't change these parents or their kids, just teach ours to function around them.

Best of luck!


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I also have an extremely friendly & outgoing son, 3 years old, who is really good about asking other kids to play & voluntarily sharing his toys with them. It's amazing. When other kids behave badly at the playground... usually the parents/nannies will immediately correct the bad behavior/give a time out/remind the child to play nicely... A few times, however, I've noticed mothers or nannies who just let the kids do whatever and sit and talk on the phone the whole time and don't seem to care. We live in the city in a pretty nice area and most parents seem to be on the same level as we are about this sort of thing. I really noticed kids behaving badly and not being corrected by parents a few times while on play dates at parks in the suburbs. Those moms just didn't seem to care what the kids were doing and really weren't supervising the kids at all.
When my son encounters this kind of thing, I just redirect him to play somewhere else or otherwise try to distract him and begin another activity. But I do usually say, in a voice loud enough for the dilinquent parents/caregivers to hear, that the other kids aren't playing nicely, that we don't treat other kids that way... just to both reinforce my own child's good behavior and also to let these other people know that they are not being good role models for their kids. Beyond that, what else can you do? It's a shame that ALL parents don't care as much about these kinds of issues. The world would certainly be a kinder place for everyone.
On another note though, I also don't think it's such a bad thing for our kids to encounter this kind of bad behavior because they need to learn that everyone isn't nice/kind... and how to deal with that.

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Been at both ends. If a parent is not paying attention you need to put matters in your own hands. At the mall another boy just started hitting and kicking my son and his father was oblivious or didn't care. Same w/taking things from him at the library or where ever else. If its harmful you step in. I've read you need to let kids kinda work things out themselves around 2ish if it's not physically harmful, but i'm with you.... I say loudly "he is not playing nice. He is not a nice boy, we don't play with people who aren't being nice". THe comment on the suburbs in one of your postings made me laugh. I don't think it has anything to do with where you live, they are everywhere. Also, as a parent my son has pushed other kids recently (younger), and though its under control now, there's nothing more disappointing and hurtful as well as when your child does that.... i make him apoligize and apoligize to the parent and give a time out or leave. I explain to my son that he made the other child sad and boys and girls don't like to play with other boys and girls that push. I just hope that other parents do that and you may not see it (I talk to him in private vs humiliating him).

THis is frustrating. I have a child care and I teach the children who are being pushed around to speak up. You may start with practicing with your child with you by telling him to say no!! Children should know that they have the right to tell another child no--encourage your child to say no, if it continues to say no louder, then if still the other child does not stop then yell NO really loud and walk away. This may gain the other parents attention and they may talk with their child. Not all children will play nice, especially if thier parents do not teach them how to interact with others. The best thing to do is avoid those who are not nice and play with those who are. Bringing a playmate with your son to the park will also help. Your main goal is to teach your child to solve problems for himself and you are there to direct him with appropriate behavior. Take care!!!

Lately, I have noticed a few unkind things on the playground too. It disgusts me that parents do not correct their children. Some parents are just oblivious. At the time, I was afraid to intervene because I did not want to be rude in front of the girl's mom (a friend of a friend). But, now after reflecting. I am going to speak up more. That way, my daughter (4yrs old) can learn the words (from me) about how to stick up for herself and handle the situation. I'll do this until I see her doing it for herself. I don't think it is an age thing but about learning a skill. Someone needs to correct the "bad" kids whether it's me or my daughter.

I think we have to be careful about what we say though - no character assassins. For example, I would never say to my daughter that the child is mean or bad. That is the same as name calling. I feel it is better to describe the action (not the person) as mean or we risk teaching our children to name call.

In the example of a girl blocking the slide so my daughter could not go down, I would say in a big voice and with a big smile "the playground is for everyone, it's not nice to block the slide, can you move so she can have a turn?" Later, I would speak to my daughter again about what words she can use to stick up for herself.

It's a tricky thing, but as parents, I think it is our responsibility to teach these kids. And, I am not going to worry about another mom being mad at me about something they should be doing for their children.

I have run into similer problems on playgrounds and playplaces such as McDonalds and BK's, my som in 18mo but is large for his age and likes to play on all the equipment but can't always stand up for himself if the other cild is older. If the child is being rude or violent I will step in and tell them not to hit/push my child like that. In extreme cases I have asked the child which parent is theirs and in a polite manner asked them to tell there child to stay away from mine and stop bullying. Most of the time they are embarrased and correct the child if they are hostile towards me Either I will leave or see if any one else had had problems with the child and report them to authorities(If there are any).


I think the examples you gave are handled differently. I would never allow my son (he's almost 3) to push or be pushed. I would have no problem going up to the pushers and say something like, "Oh, guys, that's not nice. Did Jacob do something to make you angry?" And go from there. If they were just being bratty, I'd redirect Jacob to a different area and tell him (loudly, like others have said) "It isn't nice when other kids push, let's go find another place to play."

Now, with the girls that didn't want your son to play with them...I feel differently. It's fair that the two girls didn't want to play with your son. The way they went about it may be wrong. But at age 5 - aren't they into the whole boy vs. girl thing? I'd explain to my son that sometimes kids don't want others to play. I wouldn't want to "force" anyone to play with my son. If that makes sense.

Yea, and I agree with another poster. It's not the city vs. the suburbs. Rude kids and irresponsible parents are everywhere.



I too have encountered this on our school playground. I have a 3 1/2 year old boy who loves to play with the older kids at the playground. Unfortuntely, there is one kid a year or so older that is mean to him on a regular basis, pushing, shoving, saying unkind things.

I let it go for awhile because I didn't want to be "that mom" complaining about another kid's behavior and tried to let them work iot out. It finally got so bad that I spoke to the mom of the mean kid. She was very nice and said sorry but rarely corrects the mean boy. She doesn't seem very concerned and is usally talking to a group of other moms and not paying any attention to what her son is doing. What can you do???

Several other moms have noticed it as well. I have now begun to intervene on my son's behalf and tell the mean kid to STOP whatever he doing to be nice an aplologize. I also get on my kid well- to either play nice together or don't play with each other at all. Somtimes it works, sometimes not.

It is a slippery slope and I try and have commaradrie with the other moms but I am tired of this rotten kid! I try and teach my boy to be nice, share , etc and NOT to act that way and to take up for himself too.

I think you have to do the best you can and be watchful of the situation. I have scaled back our visits to the playground and if it gets worse I will speak to the mom again, although I don't think it will do any good.

Oh well--

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