Blogs,  Discipline & Boundaries,  Parenting

Other People’s Children

We all know how difficult it is as parents to toddlers, who are prone to act and behave in ways we’d sometimes prefer they didn’t, but we accept and understand they are growing, learning and at an innocent age that needs nurturing and guiding.

As a father to two year-old twin boys, not a day goes by where I don’t see them getting a bit heavy handed, snatching, not sharing and all the rest… but also, not a day goes by where I don’t challenge this behaviour and use these moments to teach them about acceptable behaviour. I’m pretty sure I’m talking to a brick wall most of the time, but repetition is the word when managing toddlers!

Now dealing with my kids negative behaviour towards each other is one thing but when they act in the ways described above towards other people’s children it throws up a whole new set of feelings for me as the parent… mortified is a good way to describe it I think. If one of my boys hit or snatched from another child in front of me I would not hesitate in intervening and correcting that behaviour and ensuring the other child is ok and whether its needed or not I think I would also offer an apology to the child’s parent to reassure them that I am dealing with it the best I can.

Is that too much to expect from other parents? What I really want to know is; When is it acceptable to intervene and challenge other peoples’ children when they are hitting, snatching etc towards your child?
Let me share with you why I ask this question…

I was in our local playground with the boys this week and Haribo, in his excitement squealed and ran straight over to the ladder for the slide. A little girl, bigger than the boys so I’m guessing about 4 years old, was on the ladder and immediately gave Haribo the death stare and shouted ‘no’ at him. Her mother (I’m making that assumption that she was) was stood talking, but clearly watching just a little way from me.

I took Haribo’s hand and talked to him about just waiting a minute to let the little girl take her turn, although to be fair to him he hadn’t actually even started to climb the ladder. I stepped back and he was quite happy waiting at the bottom and was excitedly shouting ‘daddy, I do it’. The little girl, who I’ve now named ‘Regina’ (#meangirlsreference), then climbed down the steps and proper shoved him shouting ‘no’ again. I looked at her mum, who had 100% seen it, and she chose not to act so I went back over and said calmly and in a non-aggressive manner, ‘please don’t push that’s not very nice’.

The girl started balling, like I’d just shot the Easter Bunny or something equally evil… I’m guessing she wasn’t used to being challenged? Her mum came over to comfort her (in dramatic fashion) and just eyeballed me. Obviously this really ‘boiled my blood’ but I just continued to look after Haribo and ignore it.

A few minutes later and mum has returned to her conversation and her and the friend both shooting me evils across the playground. I can’t tell you how many deep breathes I had to take… shows how much being a parent has chilled me out, as a younger, more hot-headed Phil would undoubtedly have been unable to resist the urge to say something to her.

I came away from this incident feeling really crap… had I acted inappropriately? I didn’t think so? I hadn’t shouted or been mean, I hadn’t even considered giving her a sharp back-hand (LIES… I totally had). I also felt really p’d off actually that her mum had left me in that situation and then felt the need to glare at me rather than address her issue with me if she disagreed with my actions.

So, coming back to my question… When (if at all) is it acceptable/appropriate to challenge another child’s behaviour and to what level?

I totally understand that we don’t always know what is going on in that family, i.e. learning disabilities, trauma etc. Parents do have to adapt their disciplinary styles to suit their family and we might not all agree with how we all do it, but my problem in this situation was a total failure by this parent/responsible adult to even acknowledge the aggressive behaviour their child displayed to another.

I’m going to stand by my actions this week and say that I would totally do it again and should it be your child that I have to do it to, well then, shame on you! 🤣

If it were the other way around and I had not dealt with my kid’s negative behaviour towards your own, then I hear by give you permission to challenge away… but shout, scream or smack them and be ready to face the wrath of an angry scouser!

It’s such a sensitive subject so I’d really love to hear other people’s thoughts on this, so get commenting… you have to have an opinion on this one for sure!

I do I do I do!!!! You should of told the woman what happened! She was obviously distracted talking to her friend and wouldn’t of seen everything, surely? You should have spoke to her there and then explaining what her daughter did and what you said. She may have been more sympathetic, rather than shooting you a dirty look… and you wouldn’t have come away feeling pretty p*ssed off.

But hey-ho, it-s easy for me to say that now. In the heat of the moment, sometimes your mind / emotions accelerate past your gob and you lose the momentum.

Yeah, I guess the explaining what happened to the other parent would probs be best in order to know that they definitely understand… then if they chose to ignore it, then it’s justified to get mad, right?🤣 Although I stand by it in this case… that mum definitely saw and chose not to challenge her little princess!

As for the argument of correcting other people’s children… well it’s like that ‘unspoken rule’ in parenting that no one actually talks about… instead, it’s managed with a dirty look or a flippant comment which tells the other parent to BACK OFF! And I’m guessing the reason being is, it’s simply not your responsibility to correct their child. For me I have a rule… if you’re in my house then it’s my rules, so if any kids act up, disrespect my house/people/rules etc then I will correct them, and quite happily stare down that dirty ‘back off b*tch’ look from their parent, because it’s my house. 

Firstly… I didn’t realise there were rules in your house? So does that mean the kids can do as they please? 😜

Err, Nope! 

Secondly… I’m not sure I agree that it’s simply not your responsibility to correct their child if they are behaving aggressively towards your own. I would say there is a limit to what you can/should do, but we’re the adults! 

If a child was behaving aggressively towards my child I would take my child out of that situation – like you did. And I’d make a big enough deal of it for the other parent to hear and raise their game – like you are with this blog post ha! 🙄

Phil ‘The Disciplinarian’ – you run a tight ship in your house 🤪

I do love a ‘time out‘ haha

It is a difficult one, which is why I wanted to write this and see how everyone else feels about it… I’m sure it’s one of those topics that will really divide opinion!

Whether it’s other people’s children or your own, managing behaviour is tough. Check out how fellow blogger Rachel from Kids Cuddles and Muddy Puddles got on.

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  • Jen

    Phil I had to do just the same kind of thing this weekend when an unsupervised child decided he was going to take a chunk out of the minions cake!! I told him it wasn’t for now and to go and play, he actually waved whatever he had in his hand at me…I responded that wasn’t kind and after a grimace he walked away! 😳

  • Tanya

    Great post! I think so long as a parent is not yelling, bullying or abusive in any way – they need to do what they need to do to stand up for their child and protect them. If other parents are offended by this – so be it! I had a father drive around my neighbourhood looking for me after I told his twin sons (aged 11) to leave my daughter (also 11 at the time) alone – they had called her a “dyke” and “faggot” – right in front of me! When I presented this info to the father, he told me it’s his job to discipline them – NOT MINE. But when another parent isn’t there to witness the bad behaviour and correct it (or if they are and do nothing) – it then does become my job – because it’s my kid on the receiving end. It’s difficult, it’s touchy – but then again – parenting isn’t for the faint of heart!!!

    • Phil @ ParentingPhils

      Thanks for your comment Tanya. That’s an awful incident that you and your daughter have suffered. There is absolutely no way I wouldn’t have been saying something to those boys! We’ve been running a poll over on Facebook about this blog and there has been some great comments! It sounds like in your case you ‘challenged’ the boys rather than ‘disciplined’ them… and I think the census is that most people feel that is acceptable to do if a parent isn’t there to do the job… or just plain ignoring the behaviour. Phil

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