Meet Helen. Helen has 4 children, 3 boys and a girl aged between 3 and 8 years of age. She is not here looking for positive affirmation of her actions she is here to vent. She is that mum who will discipline someone else’s kids.
It all started when I had my second child. With my first I thought I did a pretty good job. He was courteous, considerate of others, was good at sharing and generally did what he was told. We went to the shops, the playground, on holiday and it seemed parents were just letting their kids go feral. Most of the time it was because they were not watching. They were sipping coffee, chatting to friends or talking on their phones while their children were running wild and terrorising other kids.
The first occasion was at the playground. There were about 6 kids playing nicely and then one child came in and started chasing them. This was not a game of chasey, the kids did not find it fun, they were being terrorised and the parent had walked to the edge of the park, was on a call and not even watching. He was in their face, pushing, roaring and running after the smaller children. I tolerated no more than 5minutes of this behaviour and then I went up to the child and said, “you are scaring the other children by chasing them, please stop it. Why don’t you have a ride on the swings instead?”. The child was indignant, they had clearly had never had anyone tell them off before. He just kept chasing them. He was about 4 years old, so old enough to know better. He was enjoying throwing his weight around. I took the child by the hand and led him to the dad, there was no way I was leaving those kids in the playground with that child. The Dad literally just nodded and kept going with his phone call. He did leave with his son but it was like he expected everyone else in the part to look after his child, knowing he had some serious challenging behaviour.
That was the first of many. I do not let ‘loose’ parents away with just letting their kids go without supervision if they are under 5. Some may say I’m a helicopter parent, but I keep an eye on what is going on. From that first day in the park until now I have never hesitated to pull other people’s kids up on their behaviour. I only step in when my child or other children are threatened, pushed or there is other nasty behaviour and I even have my older kids on patrol these days, looking out for their younger siblings.
I think there is nothing wrong with kids understanding their actions affect other people. And to be honest having behavioural issues is not an excuse to hit my child and not have to say sorry or not expect I will step in the next time. I never shout, or loose it with them. I have been close to with parents though. I always suggest that the child could do other things other than throw sand or hit. Even if they are small they just need to be told.
I have had parents thank me. They said they were not really sure what to do. Should they step in or should they stay out of it. I say, if you are feeling uncomfortable say something. I am all for letting kids figure it out for themselves but I don’t expect my children to have to put up to certain types of behaviour. I often correct another child if the parent is standing right there and might not yet have noticed their child’s behaviour. But I have always been like this. I don’t suffer fools gladly and I am always honest with my colleagues and friends. There are no social graces when a child pushes a smaller child down the slide when they are not ready. So many parents step back and don’t act and then feel guilty when their child gets upset or worse, hurt.
It’s water off a ducks back when a mum or dad moans I am attacking their parenting style. Well if your child is going to behave like a playground bully then yes, I will be pulling up your child and you every time.
So readers, do you agree with Helen? Do you intervene? Do you talk to the parent or child?