Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Sanity Lost on January 10, 2013, 05:00:54 PM

Title: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Sanity Lost on January 10, 2013, 05:00:54 PM
My DS's are 10 and 8, are pretty big for their age and still love the playground. I needed to pick up DH from work and got there a little too early, however, there was a park about 2 blocks away. So I took them over there and told them to have fun until it was time to get Daddy. When we arrived there were several kids already there having a grand time. I parked myself in line of sight and played with the baby; keeping one eye on the boys.

My younger son Fin ran to the swings and waited patiently for one to get free. As soon as one did, he got on and started swinging. No sooner had he started then this little girl, probably about 5-6 years old, came storming up. She started cursing my son with language I would never use and would wash my boys mouths out with soap if they even used 1 of them. Fin tried to ignore her, but then she stood in front of the swing. Fin didn't want to hit her, so he got off and told her she had an ugly heart and an uglier mind. Then he stalked off to go play with his brother. The little girl stood there for a moment with her mouth open and then burst into tears. I saw her go running off toward another group of kids and decided that discretion was the better part of valor, called the boys and we left the park.

We talked a little bit about it; but I don't like bullies and at the same time have no intention of raising my boys to be doormats. I'm not sure that what Fin did was wrong; but thought I would put it out to you wise ehellions and see what you think. Is there a further lesson I can teach my boys for the next time this situation comes up?
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Moray on January 10, 2013, 05:08:00 PM
How about "I know she was using bad words and interrupting your swinging, but what you said to her was insulting, too. If someone hurts your feelings, or is being mean, it's okay...no, it's good to tell them to stop, or tell them they're wrong. It's not okay to call them ugly, inside or out."?

This seems a prime opportunity for the "Two wrongs don't make a right" talk.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: gorplady on January 10, 2013, 05:11:09 PM
I have to agree with Moray.

Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Amara on January 10, 2013, 05:24:01 PM
I don't have children so take this with all that is worth. I think what your son said was fine. I do not see any rudeness at all.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Wulfie on January 10, 2013, 05:30:22 PM
POD Amara.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Zilla on January 10, 2013, 05:35:19 PM
I don't have children so take this with all that is worth. I think what your son said was fine. I do not see any rudeness at all.


I have two girls and love what your son said to the girl.  I think it was an apt description.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Roe on January 10, 2013, 05:42:56 PM
I have children but still, I'm still no expert.  However, I do not see anything wrong with what your son said.  I think he handled it perfectly.  He wasn't a doormat and he responded to her ugliness in a more mature way than I've seen adults handle it.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: yokozbornak on January 10, 2013, 05:43:45 PM
The truth hurts.  He didn't call her ugly, he called her actions ugly...and they were.  Sometimes I think kids like that need a dose of reality.  Often telling a bully to stop just makes them more aggressive.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: weeblewobble on January 10, 2013, 05:46:10 PM
I don't know if it's retaliatory rudeness or child's way of stating "You've behaved badly and here's the impression it gives me."  I hate to see a little girl cry, but maybe she'll think twice before displaying that side of her personality.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: turtleIScream on January 10, 2013, 05:49:42 PM
"Please don't talk to me like that"
"that wasn't a nice thing to say"
"please stop"

Those are all perfectly acceptable ways of responding to a bully.  I think your son crossed a line when he called the girl (not her behavior/speech) ugly.

In other words, I agree with Moray.

ETA:
The truth hurts.  He didn't call her ugly, he called her actions ugly...and they were.  Sometimes I think kids like that need a dose of reality.  Often telling a bully to stop just makes them more aggressive.

He didn't call her actions ugly; he called her heart and mind ugly. If he had said, "what an ugly thing to say", I would have said he was fine. But he called her an ugly person, and that was not okay.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Jones on January 10, 2013, 05:50:33 PM
I have a 7 year old daughter. Can we set up a date with your son in about 10 years? I have a feeling he'll treat her like a gentleman and speak plainly to her if she needs it.  8)

That being said, were I you I'd probably have stepped in a little sooner, suggesting to the girl that she wait her turn and use appropriate language. Unfortunately, with my tactic, she'd probably drag a parent over who'd yell at me for parenting their child. So, your actions were probably the best they could be, under the circumstances. Maybe emphasize to your sons that next time, Fin should emphasize her actions/words are ugly, rather than immediately jumping to her heart?
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Moray on January 10, 2013, 05:52:35 PM
I don't think I'd go so far as to call it retaliatory rudeness. I don't even think it's something that requires discipline; I just think that at 10 or 8, there's a good opportunity to teach that just because someone insults us, we don't have to lash back with hurtful words ourselves, and we definitely don't have to resort to ad hominem attacks.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: rose red on January 10, 2013, 05:56:21 PM
I can't help but wonder about the girl's home life.  While I applaud your son for standing up for himself, it may be a bit harsh.  Maybe you can teach him to say "Stop!  That's rude!  Those are ugly words!"
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Roe on January 10, 2013, 05:59:48 PM
I just told my own boys about this post.  Their response?

"That mom should tell her son "Good job because I can almost bet that little girl won't be so quick to bully next time.  He probably altered her future behavior.  She won't soon forget the experience"."

Of course, they aren't parents so again, we aren't experts. 
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: MommyPenguin on January 10, 2013, 06:03:37 PM
What about, "Wow, those are some pretty ugly words (or "Wow, that's an ugly way to act," for future incidents that are actions not words)!  Are you sure that's how you want people to think about you?"  Something along those lines?  It gives him something pretty strong to say that sounds reasonably natural, and yet at the same time is clearly pointing out that her words/actions are ugly and they make her look bad, without resorting to personal insults that may hurt her and make her defensive ("He said I have an ugly heart!") instead of ashamed ("He said I said something ugly and that people will think of me that way.  That's... hmm.").  Just a thought.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Moray on January 10, 2013, 06:07:27 PM
What about, "Wow, those are some pretty ugly words (or "Wow, that's an ugly way to act," for future incidents that are actions not words)!  Are you sure that's how you want people to think about you?"  Something along those lines?  It gives him something pretty strong to say that sounds reasonably natural, and yet at the same time is clearly pointing out that her words/actions are ugly and they make her look bad, without resorting to personal insults that may hurt her and make her defensive ("He said I have an ugly heart!") instead of ashamed ("He said I said something ugly and that people will think of me that way.  That's... hmm.").  Just a thought.

I think the bolded is pretty perfect.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: sweetonsno on January 10, 2013, 06:23:15 PM
I don't think it's nice to insult someone's character, even if they've behaved badly. The little girl was wrong to curse him out, yes, but I think Moray has a very good point. . . two wrongs don't make a right, and the fact that someone says or does something disrespectful does not mean that your default position should be disrespect. There are plenty of polite ways to handle this without telling someone that they are inherently flawed (which is exactly what you say when you tell them that their heart and mind are ugly). I suspect that if she internalized the message, the take-away is not "You shouldn't swear at people" but "You're a bad person."

Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: TootsNYC on January 10, 2013, 07:08:18 PM
I'm sorry--that was a really rude thing Fin said to her. I'm w/ Moray--I think Fin have EVERY right to be mad, but he needs a little coaching about what he says to express that anger.

He may have used words that don't trigger automatic censure from grownups quite the way swear words do, but they were really on a par with hers.

My kids would NOT let me use the words "stupid" and "ugly." Not for anything, actually--but especially not a person. They thought they were incredibly mean.

I think that's a good standard to have.

(I also know that I would have been on my way over to Fin to intervene when the girl started bothering him. I actually turn into Playground Monitor Mom pretty easily. Not Momma Bear, though--just "He was waiting for the swing. If you'd like to use the swing, and you ask him nicely, he might be willing to take turns pretty soon" sort of thing.)
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 10, 2013, 07:20:21 PM
Interesting. I see good arguments on both sides. I'm terribly impressed with the boy's choice of words, honestly--I think at his age my retort might have been more along the lines of, "Yeah, well, you're a stinky poo-face!"  ::) It is a retort, though, and although it may have achieved the desired result (the girl went away and stopped bothering him), there are probably other phrases that would be more polite.

Personally, I see a distinction between saying, "You're bad/ugly," and "Your actions are bad/ugly," and I think it's very important to never use the former with children. I sometimes wonder if the children actually see the distinction though, or if they just pick up on the keywords of "you" and "ugly." Maybe something that gets the point across without using inflammatory words at all would be best--focus more on what he wants her to do, like wait her turn, move out of his way, stop talking to him, etc.. Ignore the vitriol as best he can, show her he's not intimidated by it.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Sharnita on January 10, 2013, 08:02:01 PM
You know, sometimes I think that girls  get away with saying or physically doing things things to boys that society would find far less tolerable if the boys were doing it to girls.I think that we sometimes unintentionally send boys the message that they need to tolerate abuse from girls in order to be nice guys and that is really unfair.

He might have phrased his objections slightly better but I think that is something to that can be worked on.  I don't think she can be abusive toward people and then weep when those people let her know it is unacceptable to them.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: artk2002 on January 10, 2013, 08:06:31 PM
Being polite doesn't mean that we have to take abuse from others without responding. I think your son was fine. He spoke the truth. From her response, it sounded like that was something that she needed to hear.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Yvaine on January 10, 2013, 08:07:29 PM
You know, sometimes I think that girls  get away with saying or physically doing things things to boys that society would find far less tolerable if the boys were doing it to girls.I think that we sometimes unintentionally send boys the message that they need to tolerate abuse from girls in order to be nice guys and that is really unfair.

He might have phrased his objections slightly better but I think that is something to that can be worked on.  I don't think she can be abusive toward people and then weep when those people let her know it is unacceptable to them.

I don't think this particular case is really about gender at all. We're discussing the boy's choice of words, not because he's a boy, but because he's the OP's kid and therefore the one whose behavior could theoretically be affected by the outcome of the discussion. The girl was rude, absolutely, but nothing we say here can influence her--her mom isn't reading here.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Sanity Lost on January 10, 2013, 08:09:59 PM
I should have stated that the whole interaction took about 3 minutes and I was getting up to intervene when Fin retorted back to her and stalked off. I did speak to him about his choice of words and how he could have phrased it better. I also did speak to him about hurting her feelings as she probably didn't hear "You're acting ugly" only "You're ugly". IE I pod Moray as well :D

Part of this is my fault in that I have always told him that swear words are ugly and we do not speak to others in an ugly manner. His school has also been doing a series of classes on abuse and bullying. He had asked me why people seem to like hurting others and I told him that sometimes people act ugly to each other because they think they can get away with it. Fin also has ADHD and the simpler and more concise an explanation I give him, the more likely he is to remember it. I also have to admit to being proud of him as well. In the past, he would have shoved her and retorted "You're just a poopy-head" so HEY progress :/

But the entire situation did bring to the forefront the question "How do I teach my children to respond politely but firmly to the crass, the bully and the SS, without sinking to their level"?
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: buvezdevin on January 10, 2013, 08:14:16 PM
Being polite doesn't mean that we have to take abuse from others without responding. I think your son was fine. He spoke the truth. From her response, it sounded like that was something that she needed to hear.

POD, and Disclaimer, I am not a parent.

The reason I agree so whole heartedly with artk2002 is that this may have been the first occassion on which the girl had any inkling that what she says reflects *on her* and how she is perceived.  As I have seen children say and do things they pick up, without fully understanding meanings or potential inferences, it may have been an overdue realization on the girl's part.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: hyzenthlay on January 10, 2013, 08:58:43 PM
I think your son was fine.  Yes he was blunt. At that age blunt is appropriate and being nicey nicey about your feedback tends to mean your feedback is ignored.

So what if she cried? She initiated a harsh interaction with a stranger, those rarely turn out well.

Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Amava on January 10, 2013, 09:15:47 PM
Well yes, for grown-ups (parents, teachers,...) it is understood that they know the technique of "criticize the behaviour, not the person". In other words, that they would say "wow those are some ugly things to say" rather than "you have an ugly heart".

However I would not expect a young boy for not knowing or using this technique, and I think his bluntness was to be preferred over just taking whatever she was  dishing out to him. I don't feel sorry for the girl (well, I feel sorry for her that she feels the need to that behaviour, and I do hope her life/attitude/whatever gets better, but I don't feel sorry for the backlash she got from your son).  In short, if she can't take it, she shouldn't dish it.

Since you /asked/, I think it's ok to mention to him that "address the behaviour" technique, for possible use in the future, but again, I definitely don't blame him for being as harsh as he was.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Snooks on January 11, 2013, 02:56:12 AM
Obviously I don't know your son but that seems like an odd choice of words for an 8 year old.  I wonder if it's something that he's heard at school during a class/assembly on bullying and behaviour.  I think he handled it well to be honest but I am curious as to where he got the expression from.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Addy on January 11, 2013, 03:54:57 AM
Obviously I don't know your son but that seems like an odd choice of words for an 8 year old.  I wonder if it's something that he's heard at school during a class/assembly on bullying and behaviour.  I think he handled it well to be honest but I am curious as to where he got the expression from.

The OP did say in post 22 that she has used the word ugly to describe swear words and disrespectful, bullying behaviour.

OP, I think your son did a pretty good job, but we can all improve with practice. I think you did well to speak to him about his phrasing, but hey, like you said, it's progress!
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Snooks on January 11, 2013, 04:13:15 AM
Obviously I don't know your son but that seems like an odd choice of words for an 8 year old.  I wonder if it's something that he's heard at school during a class/assembly on bullying and behaviour.  I think he handled it well to be honest but I am curious as to where he got the expression from.

The OP did say in post 22 that she has used the word ugly to describe swear words and disrespectful, bullying behaviour.

Somehow I managed to miss the whole second page of this topic, apologies.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: perpetua on January 11, 2013, 04:48:33 AM
The OP's son was fine. Sometimes, people need to hear these things.

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.

He did good.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: YummyMummy66 on January 11, 2013, 05:34:16 AM
The OP's son was fine. Sometimes, people need to hear these things.

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.

He did good.

I agree.  I think your son handled the situation fine for his age and was much nicer than most other adults would be. I am tired of bullies and maybe this young girl will think twice before she does so again. 
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: RubyCat on January 11, 2013, 07:11:13 AM
I think your son did really well and I think his words were perfect. 

It seems obvious that the girl is either receiving little to no parenting or is being taught and encouraged to be a bully. I just wish I could believe that she would think about the meaning of your son's words and decide to not behave that way anymore. But as long as we do have bullies, we need to teach our children to effectively deal with them. Kudos to Fin.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Girlie on January 11, 2013, 09:02:32 AM
The OP's son was fine. Sometimes, people need to hear these things.

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.

He did good.

I agree.  I think your son handled the situation fine for his age and was much nicer than most other adults would be. I am tired of bullies and maybe this young girl will think twice before she does so again.

Parking my POD right here.
I think Fin did just fine.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Eden on January 11, 2013, 09:14:41 AM
The OP's son was fine. Sometimes, people need to hear these things.

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.

He did good.

I agree.  I think your son handled the situation fine for his age and was much nicer than most other adults would be. I am tired of bullies and maybe this young girl will think twice before she does so again.

Agreed, I think it's the difference between calling someone's actions vs their hearts as ugly is a little too nuanced for that age. And it's not like he called names or anything. I don't see what he said as much different than, "You're mean!" I think he did well.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: postalslave on January 11, 2013, 09:47:59 AM
The OP's son was fine. Sometimes, people need to hear these things.

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.

He did good.

yup, POD
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: TootsNYC on January 11, 2013, 09:49:49 AM

As for the suggested responses, they're all well and good, but he's eight. Expecting him to come up with calm adult responses to an insult is unrealistic.


Exactly! And that why the OP (and a couple of the rest of us) have suggested that this is a great time to discuss why that particular phrasing was not so good, and provide coaching in advance of something similar.

He IS eight. That's not particularly unsophisticated, actually. Give eight-year-olds some credit! I think he can get the nuances. He may have even MEANT the nuances. And give Fin some credit. He obviously thought a bit about how to react, and he controlled himself admirably. He just needs some other options in his "tool belt."

Those of us who didn't quite like his phrasing (including his own mother, actually) haven't *condemned* him or anything. We just think that next time it would be nice if his choice of words didn't strike so directly at someone's core identity (heart and mind).

His mom will probably help him with that.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Moray on January 11, 2013, 10:46:17 AM
I should have stated that the whole interaction took about 3 minutes and I was getting up to intervene when Fin retorted back to her and stalked off. I did speak to him about his choice of words and how he could have phrased it better. I also did speak to him about hurting her feelings as she probably didn't hear "You're acting ugly" only "You're ugly". IE I pod Moray as well :D

Part of this is my fault in that I have always told him that swear words are ugly and we do not speak to others in an ugly manner. His school has also been doing a series of classes on abuse and bullying. He had asked me why people seem to like hurting others and I told him that sometimes people act ugly to each other because they think they can get away with it. Fin also has ADHD and the simpler and more concise an explanation I give him, the more likely he is to remember it. I also have to admit to being proud of him as well. In the past, he would have shoved her and retorted "You're just a poopy-head" so HEY progress :/

But the entire situation did bring to the forefront the question "How do I teach my children to respond politely but firmly to the crass, the bully and the SS, without sinking to their level"?

I think that if you've got an open dialog going and are talking about the distinction between calling out someone's actions vs. insulting someone's character then you're on the right track and further action really isn't required.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: cicero on January 11, 2013, 11:41:24 AM
I think that Fin *acted* OK and in control, but he shouldn't have used those words.

I also think that he shouldn't have commented on her *words* at all, but if anything, the girl should have been reprimanded for her *actions*, ie., forcing him to give up his turn for her.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 11, 2013, 12:14:39 PM
I agree, I'm impressed with his choice of words, considering he's eight.  As others said he may need a bit of help to make his intentions a bit more clear but still, it's better than the name calling I'd expect from a lot of 8 year olds I've known.

I remember being in sixth grade myself and in one of my classes a boy said something hurtful to a girl, leading our teacher to say "That was ugly."  Cue the other kids saying "Ooooh she called you UGLY!" Mrs. C clarified that she was not calling her student ugly, but his choice of words.  So I wouldn't be surprised if a younger child like the girl might have heard the words and thought the boy was calling HER ugly. 

Come to think of it, I don't often hear people using "ugly" to describe a person's behavior anymore. I used to hear it from  my grandmother, but not many others, really.

And well I don't know if it's that the girl hears that at home though it's probably the most likely case.  My boys are friends with another kid nearby whose parents swear at each other so much, and not just swear, but scream, that they no longer like to go over to their house. 

And I wish I could say I don't swear but that would be a lie. Thankfully my older two don't follow my example.  It's kind of ironic really, DH served in the Marines and I have the dirtier mouth?  ???  He never swears at all unless he is really, really upset or repeating a joke where no other word makes sense in context.
Title: Re: Playground etiquette for kids...I think he handled this right
Post by: bonyk on January 11, 2013, 07:52:35 PM
But the entire situation did bring to the forefront the question "How do I teach my children to respond politely but firmly to the crass, the bully and the SS, without sinking to their level"?

What your son did is pretty much what I suggest for my students, although I try to get them to focus on criticizing the behavior instead of the person.  For example, I recently had an eye-rolling epidemic in my class.  So I told the 'victim' girls to say in a very plain tone of voice, "When you roll your eyes at me, it makes me feel angry," and walk away.  Second offenses got a, "I'm feeling angry.  I don't want to talk to you for a while."  We never needed to go farther than that.  That worked with tween girls, because they count on the victim to be embarrassed by the eye-rolling. 

I think for a younger child, whose end-goal was to make your son angry, he needed to be as blunt as he was.

Because your aggressor