Correcting Other People’s Kids

In the last few weeks I’ve been at public locations and witnessed other kids behaving really, really badly. (In the past few weeks, I’ve seen my kids behave badly too but I usually know how to do deal with that).

  • At a coffee-house/play-scape place a few weeks ago, a little boy around the age of 4 or 5 was taking the bouncy balls from the “basketball court” and throwing them at the faces of other children (including my two). I asked him to stop and he did initially but then picked up again with the same behavior. This time I went “Supernanny” on him, got down to his eye-level and firmly told him to stop throwing balls. He stopped but called me some names (you know, “poopy-head” or something of that vein). When he started up again, I simply walked over and took the ball from him. He was shocked but his parent was nowhere to be seen so I was not sure what else to do. Eventually, I told DIB & AIB to go play somewhere else because it did not seem like this kid was going to stop.
  • Today we were at the library and two little boys (probably around 4) were having the time of their life trashing the puppet stage area. They were taking some cards intended for a matching game and throwing them up in the air and then, eventually, in people’s faces (other adults). Their moms were in another little section of the library chatting away. The woman they threw cards at was sort of timid but then they started throwing books at her and her daughter. I walked up to the little boy who threw the book and told him to stop. The woman asked him where his mother was and both little boys replied, “We don’t have mommies.” The woman walked away while another woman kept observing the yelling and general chaos. Their moms were not far enough away not to hear them but they simply were engrossed in conversation. They eventually came over and saw the mess and cleaned it up. DIB & AIB were observing this and had these shocked looks on their faces. I know it is not because they are above this kind of behavior (they are not); I just think they could not believe the kids were getting away with it.
What I wanted to do at the library today was walk over to the two moms and tell them, “You kids are being a little rowdy.” But I have no idea how people would take that. I want to believe that if I was them that I would not react defensively and would go deal with my kid. I hope I would. I hope that my friends and family know that if they see my kids acting crazy they should definitely say something to me or them. I totally get that kids have bad days (my four-year old had one this Wednesday which meant I ended my night with a Mini-Heath Blizzard from DQ). I hope other parents would understand that if I mention something that your kid was doing that it does not mean I think he/she is a bad kid altogether; just misbehaving in that moment. But these circumstances are really awkward and I wonder how others deal with them. Do you just find the parent right away or try to correct the kid on your own?

7 thoughts on “Correcting Other People’s Kids

  1. I’ve had those situations. Once two older boys were playing in a McD’s play area. There was a small basketball area and they were throwing the balls as hard as they could against the wall and it was bouncing back and hitting kids in the face. In that case it was about the safety of all the kids around. I simply said to them “Let’s be careful of the little one’s in here. When they leave, feel free to play again. But this area is for smaller children.” They were respectful and had no problems with it and the grandparents were close by so they stepped in, too. In the other circumstance, I’ve taken toys away from children that are using them in destructive ways with the explanation “Oh, my. That’s not how we play with these! We want to take the best care of this facility, these toys, etc so everyone gets a chance to play with them.” Give them a second chance. If they continue, I take the toys away and give them to the librarians or whatever worker or even set them where they can’t reach them with the explanation “If you want to play with them, you’ll have to ask your mom to come over and help you.” But you have to be VERY careful because parents will get very defensive…just remember grace, grace, and more grace!

  2. I have not been a parent long enough to know the answer to your questions. However, I always have a strong desire to give Kleenex to other people’s kids when they have runny noses. Is there really any reason to let it run like a faucet all day? Maybe it is because I have not had a kid with a leaky nose, but it seems like an easy fix to me to wipe it. Is it rude to wipe somebody else’s kid’s nose?

    • Haha…don’t wipe another kids nose! But you can totally hand them a Kleenex. It is probably an easy fix but after you’ve done it 20 times in a day then it is probably just another thing to do. Eventually, it would probably get done. Where are you seeing all these snotty kids? 🙂

  3. I do correct. I’m always amazed that even if a parent is right there, they don’t do it. I think some people think that if they are in a larger group, they can kind of relax and not have to be the parent for a while. I get that sense of comfort (in familiar groups), but I think it’s plain lazy! Especially when the parent doesn’t even get that you just corrected THEIR kid. I’ve had to physically intervene in playgrounds when kids are dangerous. They do not like it (after all, they are used to getting away with bad behavior). I’ve even become their “best” friend sticking by them until they go home and leave the destructive behavior behind. They did not like that, let me tell you! I’ve never actually had a parent go off on me about correcting kids, so I wouldn’t worry about it. I think people are sometimes just oblivious to bad behavior. Keep correcting! You’re a good mom!

  4. recently i was in the grocery store and witnessed a little girl crawling over and doing scary gymnastics while in the basket… her momma was looking in the other direction and after 45 seconds – i just gently said “ma’am – your daughter is freaking me out – i’m afraid she will get hurt”….

    as too the mommas not paying attention or too involved – i would have politely just said, i’m sorry to interupt you but i’m afraid your kids will get hurt/hurt others, etc.

    i usually avoid the destruction of property comment b/c some people don’t care – but if they think someone will get hurt – they may… if they get pissy – oh well…

    of course – public correction is not an issue for me (i’m a teacher and it comes 2nd nature)

    love natalies advice as well!

  5. I know this is such a cop out answer, but it probably just depends on the situation. Many times it’s probably best just to ignore it if you can. Then again, I’m a pansy when it comes to confrontation sometimes so maybe that’s just my default. 🙂

    • I’m totally fine with ignoring it unless someone is at risk of being injured. I’m definitely not one to jump at the opportunity for confrontation either.

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