I sometimes get into this annoying problem while I'm hooping outside and I'm curious if anyone else has any experience with it.  I notice that while I'm hooping in a public area, I suddenly turn into a kid magnet.  While I don't mind teaching them a few things and letting them play, I often have kids literally grab my hoops without asking and proceed to throw them, roll them, and generally abuse them.  I've asked them to be careful, and they have a hard time listening.  On top of that, parents often walk away and ignore their children, leaving me to pretty much babysit.  

How does anyone else handle this?  I obviously want to spread the hoop love and be kid-friendly, but I don't want to turn into a babysitter, and I want the hoops and (and me!) to be respected.  

(I also apologize if this has been discussed before.  I looked and couldn't find anything!)

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I deal with this kind of stuff a lot. You honestly have to have the balls to go talk to the parents and just let them know that your hoops are expensive.
Just be sweet about it (not that you wouldn't).

"Hey guys, I really don't mind your kids being interested in my hoops but they are pretty expensive so maybe you could talk to them about being gentler."
Smile, smile, smile.
I don't like being negative, but really, people who just leave their kids like that without talking to you in some way or saying something to the kids like 'oh don't annoy the nice hoop lady" tend to be the kind of people that don't react well to any sort of intelligent, polite 'nudge' like that. In my experience they tend to get narky. :(
LOL oh my god this is so annoying. I have a 2 year old and while I love kids, I rarely get an hour to myself to go hoop outside...

Kids always run up to play and ill let them for a minute or two (if im in the mood ill teach them a few things too..) , and then I just say, ok, im gonna hoop now can i have my hoop back please? As nicely, yet bluntly as possible. Kids are blunt little beings and you dont have to worry about hurting their feelings as long as your smiling. Thats how they talk so thats how i talk to them.

I dont even bother with the parents, i just get my hoops back. Oh but I also dont take 20 different hoops when im hooping in public... so its not like the "well shes not using them so i will thing". I only bring one or two that i will definatly be using, and ALWAYS wear headphones. that lessens the problem alot. "oh shes not being rude shes just wearing headphones.."

i use bungie balls! those tarp bungies with the ball on the end... i loop it around the hoops i dont want anyone else but me using and then i usually hook it onto my backpack. ill usually only bring out one or two "demo" hoops for people to try out. if a kid comes up and asks to try i offer a demo hoop to them after finding out if they asked their parents first (i work with kids everyday and im sick of watching kids do whatever they want without asking anyone especially their own parents.) when i let people use my hoops i do explain how much these hoops cost so please be careful, no rolling, throwing, or hitting anyone or anything with them...even the ground...and stay close by. i usually add that if they like the hoop i have some for sale and ill also plug our indoor/outdoor hoopjams that i host.
I don't know about you... but as a kid, even when I was being good and listening... I had trouble following orders. It has nothing to do with parents or how great the kids are... it's curiousity. And fortunately/unfortunately, hoops draw attention.

My suggestion is to either only take the hoops you are going to be using... and that may mean just bringing one hula hoop or perhaps bring some beater hoops that you do not care about. That way, if they are rough, then it's not such a hardship.

I know it's not fair and I know it's not right, but from my experience, this helps solve most of the problems.

Good luck!

Btw, there are great tips in the thread that Goldfish posted. =) I think one is that the kids can only use a hoop if they can see their parent.
Jodie, you pretty much sum up the problem with "It has nothing to do with parents or how great the kids are... it's curiousity. And fortunately/unfortunately, hoops draw attention." I'm the mother of two and a total kid magnet even without hoops. It can be frustrating some times, but try to be patient. Try to see through a child's eyes. They have very little sense of ownership or personal space. So stand your ground: don't let them hoop with your prized hoops and don't let them dominate your time. At the same time, try to be patient and kind.
I posted the thread about this in the performance discussions and I have to say, Caroleena's suggestions were right on! I updated after implementing them and told everyone how much of a difference it made, here's a link to her advice- http://www.hoopcity.ca/forum/topics/i-am-not-a-babysitter?id=273736...
one problem I found out the hard way with the cheap kids' hoops- they're super cheap, lol. I bought one and after a night of hooping with a group of kids it was already trashed. I'm going to use some spare tubing and cheap tape to make some small hoops next time, that way I won't end up actually spending more on replacing the cheap hoops.
yes hoops draw attention...but so do puppy dogs and candy!!! parents need to keep teaching there children about strangers. i wasnt a perfect kid...but i was pretty good for the most part. if i was out in public with one of my parents and i did something without asking or walked away from them to check out a hoop we would have left and gone home right then and there. sorry if you dont like it but i do blame the parents 100 percent. that is their child and #1 job!!!
the question i keep asking myself is "what kind of parent lets their child run off and doesnt worry about them?" the kids ive had come up to me are rather young...and as im answering their hoop questions usually a mom will pop up saying "ohhh there you went...why didnt you tell me you were going walking around?" and it always sends me into shock...parents tell kids what to do and what not to do... thats part of parenting...not kids doing what they want cause moms afraid her kid wont think shes cool.
for the past 20 or so years ive worked with kids everyday and its something i see more and more...kids either telling their parents what they are going to do or the kids just doing what they want and the parent letting them cause "its easier then dealing with them." ...just straight up lazy parents.
I've started to find this, I go mostly everyday to the park next to me and a few of the local kids come say hello and I have let them have a go, shown them tricks and generally been friendly but now it's to the point it kinda gets in the way of getting in the flow of it.
I realized either I have to get used to politely saying I need my hoop back and I'm going to listen to my music or I'd be doing hoop tutorials every time I just wanna practice, I've found the same as Takoda, as long as I say it with a smile they seem alright. If they're rough with my hoops I just tell them to be careful 'cos they can get scrapped easily they seem to respond to that OK.
Everything you've said is totally fair enough, if the kids and parents aren't respecting that, you might just have to make your point and hope it's received as it is meant,reasonably. And yeah headphones are a good first line of defense :) Good Luck!
Thanks so much everybody! The other thread was incredibly helpful as well. I don't know how I missed it.

I guess part of the problem I'm running into (and I find shocking) is that there are girls who are 6 and 7 years old at the park alone. They live pretty close, so I guess their parents think it's OK to send them by themselves. I find it unreal. I'm definitely going to try to stand my ground and hopefully they get the hint. I also think that I'm NOT going to bring extras. It would be one thing if the parents were actually with them, but I'm not going to give a hoop to a 6 or 7 year old who's alone. For one thing, they might come to expect it. For another, and my bigger fear, is if they should happen to hurt themselves (come on, we've all had bruises. We know how easily it happens!) that the parents would somehow find a way to blame me, and I don't want to be held even slightly reliable.

The headphones are definitely a good idea too!!


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