You Need To Control Your Child!! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 07-01-2013, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Got told this the other day at the Social Security office....

Now, our local SS office is very small, and at 9:15 a.m. they were already at capacity and a security guard was politely asking people to line up outside. My daughter will be 3 in July. I had brought coloring books and musical board books while we waited, and waited, and waited. She's very active and while she can sit quietly, there needs to be opportunities for her to have movement. So at the SS office she was climbing in and out of her chair, looking out the window, chatting, singing etc. She wasn't running around the room screaming, I can tell you that. But the environment was uncomfortable because everyone was so crowded.

So this older couple shows up and sits directly opposite from my husband and I. I'm trying to entertain our daughter by handed her crayons to use in her coloring book, and she's dropping them accidentally-on-purpose and refusing to pick them up. Then she slides out of her chair and nudges the lady's feet sitting opposite her. The man she was with starts in with, "You need to control your child. She ran into my wife's feet and she's very ill!"

I apologized immediately for the woman feeling ill and my husband offered his apologies also saying that our daughter is not yet 3 years old but the guy continued with, "You need to control your child!" The security guard came over to see what was up and at that point I got up and took my daughter to the other side of the room. Thankfully our number was called shortly thereafter.

After talking about this occurrence, if we are ever in this situation again, my husband and I have decided to loudly and cheerfully say, "Wonderful!! A PhD in early childhood is here to tell us what we should do!! Go ahead! We're listening!!!!! orngbiggrin.gif "

But seriously, has anyone else been in this situation? What did you do?

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#2 of 28 Old 07-01-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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When that happened to me, I'd say something like, 'It's hard for 2-year-olds to wait" and then ignore people. It doesn't sound like she was being all that out of control.
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#3 of 28 Old 07-01-2013, 12:19 PM
 
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In my imaginary world, I would be all like, "You better check yo'self before you wreck yo'self!! Mind ya' BIZNASS!!!"

But in reality I probably would of just sat there and fumed. :-/
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#4 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 05:23 PM
 
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LOL dalia!! lol.gif That is a great response. I wouldnt know what to say, either. I'd probably respond a lot like the OP--apologize and then move somewhere else. It sounds like the elderly man is very stressed due to his wife's condition so even though the toddler wasn't acting badly, i would feel better about moving elsewhere if possible.
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#5 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 05:53 PM
 
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It sounds to me like he was just trying to protect his ill elderly wife from getting bonked accidentally by a little kid- and he probably just didn't have the right words for it! The words he used are rude as your daughter was being typical three and not rude-! But it sounds like he was nervous about being in a small space- close to a moving child who doesn't always have control of their body- perhaps his wife has weak bones and he was nervous she would get bumped into so he spoke rashly in fear but meant no harm?

 

I would just brush it off as his issue regarding that and not take offence about your parenting!

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#6 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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In that situation I would do as he asked and control my child. Before being asked.
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#7 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 09:26 PM
 
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In that situation I would do as he asked and control my child. Before being asked.

The girl was acting like a normal almost-three-year-old. She was playing around the little space she had. You make it sound like its easy to make a child that age sit still for an extended period of time.
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#8 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 09:28 PM
 
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I would also apologize and move away / take the child outside for a break. If you try to put yourself in that man's shoes, it's easier to empathize rather than be offended. I know, easier said than done. wink1.gif
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#9 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 09:48 PM
 
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The girl was acting like a normal almost-three-year-old. She was playing around the little space she had. You make it sound like its easy to make a child that age sit still for an extended period of time.

I would guess that everyone here knows that controlling a toddler in such a situation is rarely easy, at the same time allowing her to run around the social security office isn't the solution to the problem when others could potentially be affected or by her actions. I would assume that the man was concerned for his wife's safety and wasn't trying to just be an old meanie. The OP said herself that the office was uncomfortably cramped and her daughter was purposely dropping crayons and climbing on the chairs. At that point the best thing probably would have been to step outside for a moment to let her burn off some steam on the lawn or on the sidewalk. I would also rethink your future reaction - he certainly doesn't deserve a snotty response when he was simply looking out for the safety of his ill wife.
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#10 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 10:13 PM
 
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Hold up --- the child was purposely dropping crayons and climbing on chairs???!!! Call the toddler police!!!!

Okay, I'm being sarcastic. But, c'mon. This is normal three year old behavior. She was not "out of control". And I wonder, for the PP who said she would have gotten control of the toddler before hand, how exactly? Gentle parenting takes time and often doesn't work to quell behavior instantly. It is true that mom could have taken the child outside for a moment, but if I were her I wouldn't have even thought what the child was doing was that big of a deal. And I would be deeply offended if someone took my parenting to task after observing for a few minutes. Unless I am harming my child everyone just needs to chill.

All that being said, the guy may be afraid for his wife. Maybe she is really sick. You never know what someone is going through. It's true I would have been infuriated if someone was so rude to me. But then I would have thought about it later and forgiven him. That's just how life is sometimes.

But I would not for a second accept his evaluation of my parenting skills. Because his judgement would be about what he was going through and really nothing to do with me.

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#11 of 28 Old 07-02-2013, 10:24 PM
 
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I would have given a brief apology, and then gotten up and moved away, as you did. I wouldn't attempt to explain anything.  People, even adults, bump into each other. Usually they apologize, and it's fine, but sometimes people are more upset or take it more personally, and I find it best to ignore it.

Toddlers live in our world, senior citizens live in our world, so do teens, happy people, crabby people, smelly people, etc.  We have to put up with people interacting with us in the world, and it isn't always pleasant.  I've had some run-ins with older people and I haven't said anything.  And old man screamed at my children when they were being loud in a grocery store, but I figured it was quid pro quo, they were being loud, he was loud back.  I was fine with it until I posted about it online. :D  

People are welcome to tell me that I need to control my child, and I will take it up to a point, but if they keep talking I will tell them they need to control their temper.  I try not to take it personally even though my fight or flight response does get initiated in some of these interactions The last time I was at a park, dog got away from me, and this man followed me around and yelled at me, calling me names and generally exhibiting, in my opinion, his privilege at existing in a world where he can display almost irrational behavior at a mistake that another person makes because somehow, he shouldn't have to exist in a less than perfect world.  I actually gave a brief apology, and then set about doing what I had to do, and I shook off his insults and completely ignored him after my initial apology.  When it was all said and done, I didn't feel shaky at the experience of being followed and berated, I could actually feel sorry for him on a level. 

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#12 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 07:45 AM
 
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I think there's a middle ground.  Three-year-olds have a need to move, yes.  That man obviously had a need to protect his ill wife from the unpredictable movements of a toddler.  So, how to find a solution that works for everyone - that's the priority (certainly not "sit still now, you horrible child" but ALSO not "she's just being a three-year-old, suck it up, dude").  

 

I think you are entering combat mode (which blocks compassion) because you are taking his comment so personally.  I think maybe it upset you because you were stressed yourself, and not entirely confident in your management of the situation - so the appraisal of a random stranger hit an exposed nerve.

 

It does not sound like he was giving you an extended lecture or berating you.  He simply said, "you need to control your child!"  Personally, I wouldn't read that as a deeply meaningful, wounding parenting critique.  I think that means "I'm scared for my wife's safety - you are responsible for this little person, I need you to do something about it." Sure it would have been lovely if he had been calm enough to request this nicely, but he was obviously upset and fearful.

 

"Control" doesn't have to mean shaming/threatening/whatever old school method - it could easily be moving to the other side of the room, taking her outside to run around, engaging her in a silly song or game so she can sit still.

 

Honestly, I don't think he was appraising your parenting so much as communicating his own need.  It's extra sad when you consider that he probably feels hopelessly out of control about his wife's illness in general, and struggling to protect her in whatever tiny way he can.


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#13 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 07:50 AM
 
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Pickle, I agree with most of what you said, but he did give her an "extended lecture". He was going on about it until the security guard came over, after both she and her DH had apologized. It's hard to keep from reacting when someone is going on at you like that.

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#14 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 08:57 AM
 
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dalia - you may be right - it sounded to me like the guy told them once, they apologized, and said "we're sorry, she's 3" - but didn't really take action or do much else.  Which led the to the guy feeling the need to reiterate and get upset - cue security coming over, and them finally removing the child to the other side of the room...but I could totally be wrong.  I'm definitely not saying the man handled this well, though.

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#15 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 10:04 AM
 
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Yeah, the man probably feels yucky about it too. I know I've walked away from situations and felt totally entitled only to feel stupid later. :-/
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#16 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 11:16 AM
 
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I would have done what you did. Sick old people can be much more immature than 2-year-olds.  I can't stand the way SS and most DMV offices are run; that is what I'd be most frustrated about.

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#17 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 11:29 AM
 
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I think your reaction was more or less appropriate.  I've worked in an office and as a first-grade teacher... all in all, I've usually been more annoyed by old people.  That being said, those old people are usually tired, feeling poorly, not yet used to today's ways, etc.  And I've also seen gentle parenting techniques that are, I'm afraid to say, a little too gentle.  I think your daughter was acting her age and I think you were doing what you could under the circumstances, trying to keep her entertained and whatnot.  I'd let it go, chalk it up to stressful circumstances, and not think poorly of this old guy.
 


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#18 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well for everyone saying I should have gone outside.... Good heavens, where do I start here? The place was so packed the security guard had people lining up outside because the waiting room couldn't handle anymore, it was against fire code. If I went outside I wouldn't be able to hear our number called, would lose our place in line, and I had to be there to assist my husband with some business. So I just went to the opposite side of the waiting room; I felt that was sufficient.

Forgot to add these golden nuggets about this whole scenario: the reason this guy sat next to us in the first place is because he didn't want to sit by the black family on the other side of us, and gruffly told his wife to move down when she tried to sit there. That same family offered their seat to me after they heard the exchange.

This was the first time I had ever been in a situation like this, that's why I wanted other's opinions. Thanks everyone!

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#19 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, the man probably feels yucky about it too. I know I've walked away from situations and felt totally entitled only to feel stupid later. :-/

You are so wise in your comment!! It's better to vent here than say something one might regret later!! I'm non-confrontational anyways...

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#20 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 01:01 PM
 
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Yeah, the man probably feels yucky about it too. I know I've walked away from situations and felt totally entitled only to feel stupid later. :-/

 

I clicked the like button on the wrong post (oops!) but this is so true! smile.gif


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#21 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 03:48 PM
 
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If you noticed your daughter bump into the woman and didn't say sorry and talk to your daughter about it, then I can't blame the woman's husband for being upset. They were expecting an immediate apology from you and a verbal lesson/redirection from you to your daughter. They felt like you were telling them they were being unreasonable when you said "she's only 3". 

 

We used to split up too, mostly in restaurants. I would take the babies outside when they cried, but if they were too upset, my husband would get the food to go instead and we would leave. 

 

There is a metal bar between the grocery lines at our favorite grocery store. My daughter starts hanging on the bars the moment I start to unload the cart. Every time, I have to tell her to stop. I still have to let my daughter know not to treat the grocery store like a playground, even though it is too tempting for her to take my advice just yet.

 

I once saw a toddler teetering on her butt on the back ledge of a high chair at a restaurant with tile floors. I couldn't stand it any longer and I went up to the family and told one of them quietly that the child looked like she was going to fall. I could tell they felt judged... They sat her back down and whispered to each other...someone then glanced over at our table and didn't say a word. If a stranger called my attention to something like this, I would probably be a bit embarrassed, but I would also say "THANK YOU!"

 

I live in an area that is hot and humid almost all year round. I was in the grocery store once and my daughter didn't have her flip flops on (they always fell off when she was in the cart, so I would take them off once I sat her in there). An "older" woman said it was stupid of me to not have shoes on her feet. I've had older folks tell me my kids weren't dressed warm enough either!  I laugh now, but I know I was pretty ticked at the time! 

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#22 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 06:46 PM
 
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If you noticed your daughter bump into the woman and didn't say sorry and talk to your daughter about it, then I can't blame the woman's husband for being upset. They were expecting an immediate apology from you and a verbal lesson/redirection from you to your daughter. They felt like you were telling them they were being unreasonable when you said "she's only 3". 

 

 

I kind of disagree and I think the man overreacted. Three year olds are not always of an age where they can control their impulses for long periods and I feel public places and our culture in general needs to do more to be child AND elderly friendly.  If this happened in any number of other countries the other adults in the room would have merely placed their hands on the child's head and said something nice and the parents would never dream of having to apologize.  People are just more accustomed to being crowded and dealing with kids in public in other countries.  

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#23 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 09:44 PM
 
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I kind of disagree and I think the man overreacted. Three year olds are not always of an age where they can control their impulses for long periods and I feel public places and our culture in general needs to do more to be child AND elderly friendly.  If this happened in any number of other countries the other adults in the room would have merely placed their hands on the child's head and said something nice and the parents would never dream of having to apologize.  People are just more accustomed to being crowded and dealing with kids in public in other countries.  

I agree with the PP that it would have been appropriate to apologize immediately after the girl bumped into the woman. Not doing that shows a complete disregard for people's personal space, which I'm sure is something that helped fuel the fire for his reaction. Yeah, it was a tight space but we still need to be conscious of personal space. A toddler climbing and playing should at least be told to be aware of other people.

I hear ya about how people in a lot of other countries are more relaxed in public spaces. They dont take every bump and shove personally. However, sometimes the same cultures allow kids to get smacked in public by their parents. No one says anything because its not seen as a big deal.
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#24 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 10:18 PM
 
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Honestly, I don't think he was appraising your parenting so much as communicating his own need.  It's extra sad when you consider that he probably feels hopelessly out of control about his wife's illness in general, and struggling to protect her in whatever tiny way he can.

Good points.

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#25 of 28 Old 07-03-2013, 10:28 PM
 
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I think older folks forget just how energetic young kids can be. We were at dinner the other day with in-laws, SIL and her kids. While we were waiting for the check, DS was getting bored and fidgety and playing in the seat. MIL said we needed to control him better. I told DS that he needed to sit back down in his seat. MIL wasn't even sitting next to him. I brushed off the comment since I didn't want to get into an argument with her. Her child tolerance is not very high anyway.
I do remember when I was growing up, my grandpa would constantly yell at me and my cousins to sit still and be quiet. My dad would comment back and say we were just being kids and what do you expect. Grandpa was the type who could sit for hours in a chair and not move.

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#26 of 28 Old 07-05-2013, 07:29 PM
 
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It sounds like she was acting like a normal toddler, but some places just aren't toddler friendly.

I know I get grumpy/frustrated when I'm in a crowded room dealing with a potentially stressful situation (like a trip to the SS office might require), so I'd just chalk up his behavior to being ina bad mood and worrying about his wife. I think moving was the best thing to do in that situation.

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#27 of 28 Old 07-06-2013, 05:09 AM
 
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AH, I just remembered a time when I was grumpy in public because of a toddler.  I was moving across the country and had my two month old son and very sick elderly cat with me in the airport, waiting at the checkout counter.  A young boy no more than three came over and started poking at the cage and playing with my son's carseat.  After asking the boy gently not to do that and his mom made no motion, I think I said something like "You need to control your child!".  The mom sounded German or something, and obviously was just surprised and flustered by my response.

 

I was extremely uncomfortable having my son in an airport with all those germs at that age; I was just passing ut of the germophobe period I went through and he was probably a bit old for that.

 

I did not have the patience at that time to ask more politely, and it was sooo similar to the OP's story.  I feel that the mom was inattentive and should not have let her son poke around an animal cage she knew nothing about but that's beside the point.

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#28 of 28 Old 07-07-2013, 05:44 PM
 
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When DD (16 months) is crying or screaming in public, DH will say "Make her stop!" I usually respond with "I don't have a magic button that makes her stop!" And he'll say "yeah you do, its your boob!" 

He doesn't have a lot of kid familiar friends so he gets super nervous about loud and/or obnoxious kid in public. 

 

I also find that older people are not used to being around toddlers. DH's grandma was so annoyed that DD at 12 months ate with her hands. She HATED it! Well, she's too young for silverware but hates being spoon/fork feed, so her clean hands work perfectly. What do you want her to do, lick her tray? (Which she does if her food is especially delicious.) 

 

OP, I think you handled it fine. What should she have done, let her kid play in the parking lot? Geez.

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