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Disciplining other people's children

Friday, December 30, 2011 Leave a Comment

Christmas break has stretched on a bit too long. My house looks like a bomb went off. My boys are fighting and bickering. My patience has gone out the window. We needed to burn off some major energy. So we went to Monkey Business. where we found holiday stress, magnified x100.

Sweaty kids, yelling and running and yes, fighting. You know how nervous energy can infect everybody around? Yeah, it was frenetic. Then this scene unfolds in the cafe area:

Two sobbing children, ages 3 and 5, run to their alarmed mother, escorted by two staff people.

A young mother, holding an infant, yells across the room: "Your children are horrible! They are hitting everyone while you just sit here and drink your coffee! They're disrespectful to adults! I told your son to go into time out and he refused!"

"I hope so," his mother responded (quite calmly, under the circumstances), "You're not his mother."

Another enraged mother joined in to scold the children, succeeding in sending them into hysterics. The young staff stood helplessly by until things calmed down. Every parent rushed to get their own child under control, lest the mommy police turn their disciplinarian eye on them. The whole thing was rather disturbing.

No one was kicked out or fined or anything. Curiously, all parties stayed to resume play. Me, I think I would have called it a day.

Have you ever called out another parent for their child's behavior? Have you ever disciplined a stranger's child? Would you ever presume to do it? Has it ever happened to you? How did you respond?


  • Anonymous said:  

    In the grocery store, my kids were atrocious. An older lady said, does Mom need a little help? "Obviously," I snapped. What I meant was, thank God someone is going to help me. What she heard was me being rude. Yes, sometimes an exasperated mom needs a smile, or a reassurance they've been there too, or just acknowledgement that it's tough.

  • Elizabeth said:  

    I agree with the other poster that when my kids are being horrible, I typically get reassuring looks and the "it gets better/easier" comments, which I SO need and appreciate. In my home, I will step in and ask another child to please stop hitting or whatever or try to intervene by offering snacks or diversions but if another child does something really awful/dangerous and doesn't stop immediately when asked, I would call up their parents or send them home. I would hope that another parent would attempt to gently redirect my child if he/she was being terrible but time-outs (or yelling God forbid) are another thing entirely. Sounds like an awkward situation. YIKES!