Telling off other people’s children

Would you tell off someone else’s child if they were behaving in a way that was dangerous or that was scaring your kids? Awkward though it is I have been the mum who has done this. Not in an aggressive or shouty way but occasionally I really feel that I have to intervene.

Would you tell off someone else's child

Slide drama

I was recently in the park with my three year old twins who were playing on the slide. It is one of those massive old fashioned ones that would never be approved by health and safety these days (it is a good 7 foot off the ground). As there is an element of danger involved my boys love it.

Two much older boys started climbing up the slide while my boys were climbing up the steps. When Sam got to the top the slide was blocked by the bigger boys. I could see he was scared. They then tried to climb over my boys heads to slide down the hand rails of the steps. I had to tell them to stop climbing up the slide and to be careful of my kids. The older boys looked a bit shocked and were not impressed that I put the kibosh on their stunt climbing!

Look out for the little kids

I’ve told kids to stop throwing sand in the sandpit at our local park and stepped in at soft play when my twins were being pushed about by older children. I usually just say please be careful you are hurting the younger children. I can see that my kids need to learn how to fight their own battles but it needs to be a fair fight – if someone is older than them and going to hurt them I will say something.

Helping out other kids

I think it is a bit similar to stepping in if you see someone else’s child hurt them self. My instinct is to pick up a kid who falls over near me and comfort them until their parent comes over. I’m always grateful if someone helps my child in this way. I don’t have a problem with someone telling off my child as long as they did it in an appropriate way – I wouldn’t be happy if they were shouting and screaming but a firm word is okay. I think I’d be more embarrassed that one of my kids had behaved in a way that wasn’t okay and that it wasn’t me that dealt with it.

Being aware

I do some times get a bit annoyed if a parent is totally absorbed in texting or chatting while their kid is hurting or upsetting other children. It’s my job to make sure my kids are not running riot and causing problems and I think you should be keeping at least half an eye on what your kids are doing. Sure I’ll have a chat but I’ll watch out for my kids at the same time to make sure they are okay (they seek out danger) and to check that they are not terrorising anyone.

Reluctance to interfere?  

Maybe it’s a trait of modern life that we are generally wary of getting involved in other people’s business in any way? Were adults from previous generations more likely to dish out a telling off? Or are we wary of getting a hostile reaction from a another parent?

What do you do?

I’d love to know your experiences. Have you felt the need to tell off someone else’s child? Has telling off a child every worked out badly for you? Has someone else told off your child in a way you were not happy about? Let me know in the comments section below.

18 thoughts on “Telling off other people’s children

  1. Really interesting post, Sarah. I have told off other parents’ children before mainly because I would want someone to do the same if my little boy was misbehaving. I do think people are more reluctant to do it now than when we were growing up though. I think you’re right and we are more wary of a hostile reaction fron the child’s parents now.

    I was literally just saying the other day that I want my son to stand up for himself but while he’s so little, and quite a shy and sensitive boy, (and not very verbal yet) I think it’s my job to stand up for him.

    It does annoy me when other parents seem to be oblivious to what their child is doing, but maybe I’ll feel differently when I have more than one child!
    Helen | Wonderfully Average recently posted…Little T at 21 monthsMy Profile

    1. Thanks Helen, I think it is a bit of a collectively watching out for all the kids thing. With my 3 running around I’ve given up the idea of chilling out on the side lines at the park!

  2. Oh I hate when the parents are talking or on their phone while their child is terrorizing the playground. I think they look the other way on purpose!! With climbing up the slide, I always tell the kids we go up the stairs & down the slide, that’s the slide rules. I’d say that to any child, not just my own. Same goes for if someone is being rough, I say be careful of the little ones. I think you have to say something. And I’d go over to a hurt child as well if I was near them. x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…Organic Solaris TeaMy Profile

    1. Thank you Becky – I always say to my kids when we go into the sandpit remember the rule of the sandpit is no throwing sand – for their benefit but also loud enough so any other kids hear too!

  3. Honestly sometimes we do need to stand up and say something. I do! When some kids on the street hit my child I spoke to them and I also spoke to some girls who were being racist to Sylvia and I told them it’s not okay and I am not just a parent but also a (qualified) teacher and they listened and behaved!

    Angela x

    1. How horrible that kids were treating Sylvia that way. I’m getting the feeling that it is second nature for teachers to automatically step in. My mum is a retired primary school teacher and I can remember times when she told off rowdy teenagers on the bus. Not even I’m that brave!

  4. Me and my best friend always tell off each others children and we’ve always been ok with that. Sometimes I find it better when she tells of my daughter because my daughter is shocked enough to listen. But I’ve been in a few incidents before where the parents were too busy on their phones to pay attention to their kids so I’ve had to tell them off for hurting others or my daughter or for doing something dangerous. It’s such a grey area though isn’t it. xx

    1. It’s funny my kids sometimes take more notice of other people sometimes. My mum is a retired primary school teacher and she has them behaving like angel children!

  5. I’m not a mum yet but I must admit I am one of ‘those’ people that speak to other people’s children if they are behaving badly – especially if it is something dangerous to themselves or others! Sometimes I get a funny look from the parent and feel a bit like I shouldn’t have done, but I’m afraid as a teacher I’m used to disciplining children that aren’t mine on a daily basis, so it’s almost second nature and often out of my mouth before I realise that I’m not actually in a classroom!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting – my mum was a teacher maybe that’s where I get it from!

  6. What a great post. I would certainly speak to a child that was upsetting or putting my child in danger. I would do it in a way like you mention though, calmly and with a soft approach. I would never want to offend anyone else, but I am putting my own child’s safety first. And as parents surely we all do that? Although I get the feeling we don’t have to worry about Ellis. He was in a playground, when a he got (accidently) tripped up by a ten(ish) year old (Ellis is 3). He marched over pointing and shouting in his face that he was naughty. I was horrified and proud all at the same time! xx
    Clare recently posted…How do you do it series. Coming soon!My Profile

    1. Thanks Clare – it’s funny my boys really do stick up for each other sometimes a bit too feistily. I have a feeling that no one will be messing with them in the playground!

  7. I would also say something to a child that is upsetting my girls. I guess it is in my personality to always say something. I also don’t mind others telling off my girls if they do it in the correct way as I notice they listen more than to me. I would definitely help a child that is hurt of upset in front of me until the parent show up. I know what you mean about parents being in their phones instead of watching their kids. They should be more aware if whar their kids are doing. Great post! 🙂 x
    A Moment With Franca recently posted…Bella’s Top Xmas PresentsMy Profile

    1. Thank you Franca – I think I got it from my mum who was a primary school teacher. Telling off other people’s kids was second nature to her.

    1. There is something about soft play that can bring out the crazy isn’t there?! I’ve had a few funny looks from parents but I think it’s about looking out for everyone’s kids.

  8. I am sure I must have done this, in fact I’m positive lol but nothing is jumping out at me! Some children are just left to get on with their own devices at parks etc that sometimes an adult needs to tell them to be careful / stop etc. If my children were being a pain in the bum, then I wouldn’t see a problem with someone telling them to stop but only if it was done in a nice way 🙂

    Gemma xx

    1. Thank you Gemma – we’ve had a few moments in the park mainly with older kids who are getting a bit adventurous on the play equipment and forgetting about the little ones.

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