I witnessed a mom purposely slam into her child with a shopping cart. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not that this is an excuse, but the child was being extremely annoying. Normally, that's when I would suggest leaving the store... not bashing her with a shopping cart.

Mom was kinda young-ish, and clearly seemed to be losing her grip this morning. Perhaps she just doesn't have the right tools to deal with her daughter. But, still.... with absolutely NO clue how to handle a child, I cannot believe she would even think of purposely doing that.

The girl was about six. Very cute. Dressed perfectly. But, she was whiny and mouthy to the mom. At one point, mom yanked her arm a little, and when the daughter yelled a dramatic "Ow you pulled my arm".. mom looked around, then loudly said "I'm trying to teach you a lesson, how do you think it feels?"

Then a moment later, she climbed into a dryer. (Lowes in the appliance area) and mom said *but, didn't sound serious to me either* "Come out... get out... do we need to go home? Do, I need to call grandma to come get you? Get out, come out...." She never came out. So, the sales lady opened the dryer and told her firmly to get out. She came out, but broke the door of the dryer on the way out. (yes, even I was mad at this child by this point) But, when the sales lady went back to the desk area, the mom took her cart and slammed it into her daughter. It hit the backs of her feet, knocking her forward and her head snapped backwards. The screaming was horrendous. I didn't notice any obvious injuries, but the mom tossed the child into the cart and got her cell phone out, made a call, and she pushed the cart outside.

I was still looking at washers when the woman came back a few minutes later without the child. (i'd have gone home and never returned.. there's no way anybody could need a washer and dryer that bad)

But, I had NO idea what to do. What should I have done? On one hand, I understood why mom was so angry, but to me, that was such an overreaction to a bad situation. The sales lady must have called security, because there was a security guy and a manager loitering around for a while after that, but they never approached the lady. I do wonder though, was security going to make the child leave the store? Or were they there to check out possible abuse?
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#2 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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Thats so sad. I feel for that little girl. My son is....like the little girl...its hard to get him to listen and follow directions and public places are no different for him. We really limit our outings with him to parks and tend to not do any sort of shopping with him unless its alone without our other kids. That said....I would never. ever. ever. purposely do that to my child. Or anyone. Even if I had to take a break outside and cry with the child, thats better than hurting them.
I would have gone to the customer service desk and asked for the police to be called. I may be over dramatic, but Id rather be over dramatic and an innocent child be spared the hurt.
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#3 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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How sad. OP,I'm not sure there was anything you could have done or if the police could have done anything. The mom likely would have said it was an accident.

I think it's important for parents to acknowledge when they need a break and also have consistent discipline with their children. I don't know the moms full story but it sounds like maybe her daughter gets away with a lot and when the mom decides she's serious about wanting her to listen, the little girl doesn't. I understand being annoyed but not pushing a cart into a kid on purpose

Sorry you had to witness that.
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#4 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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Oh wow. I would have alerted someone in the store- especially after the mom left and returned without the child. I'm not sure where you live, but we are in a heat wave right now and I would have been worried she left the girl in a hot car.

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#5 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 06:08 PM
 
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Oh wow. I would have alerted someone in the store- especially after the mom left and returned without the child. I'm not sure where you live, but we are in a heat wave right now and I would have been worried she left the girl in a hot car.
As she called someone before she left, I'd be more likely to assume she got someone to come and take the little girl.

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#6 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh wow. I would have alerted someone in the store- especially after the mom left and returned without the child. I'm not sure where you live, but we are in a heat wave right now and I would have been worried she left the girl in a hot car.
No, she wouldn't do that. It's 114 degrees here today. We live in the desert, you never purposely leave anything in your car. I'm thinking she finally did call Grandma.
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#7 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 06:48 PM
 
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Not that this is an excuse, but the child was being extremely annoying. Normally, that's when I would suggest leaving the store... not bashing her with a shopping cart.

Mom was kinda young-ish, and clearly seemed to be losing her grip this morning. Perhaps she just doesn't have the right tools to deal with her daughter. But, still.... with absolutely NO clue how to handle a child, I cannot believe she would even think of purposely doing that.

The girl was about six. Very cute. Dressed perfectly. But, she was whiny and mouthy to the mom. At one point, mom yanked her arm a little, and when the daughter yelled a dramatic "Ow you pulled my arm".. mom looked around, then loudly said "I'm trying to teach you a lesson, how do you think it feels?"

Then a moment later, she climbed into a dryer. (Lowes in the appliance area) and mom said *but, didn't sound serious to me either* "Come out... get out... do we need to go home? Do, I need to call grandma to come get you? Get out, come out...." She never came out. So, the sales lady opened the dryer and told her firmly to get out. She came out, but broke the door of the dryer on the way out. (yes, even I was mad at this child by this point) But, when the sales lady went back to the desk area, the mom took her cart and slammed it into her daughter. It hit the backs of her feet, knocking her forward and her head snapped backwards. The screaming was horrendous. I didn't notice any obvious injuries, but the mom tossed the child into the cart and got her cell phone out, made a call, and she pushed the cart outside.

I was still looking at washers when the woman came back a few minutes later without the child. (i'd have gone home and never returned.. there's no way anybody could need a washer and dryer that bad)

But, I had NO idea what to do. What should I have done? On one hand, I understood why mom was so angry, but to me, that was such an overreaction to a bad situation. The sales lady must have called security, because there was a security guy and a manager loitering around for a while after that, but they never approached the lady. I do wonder though, was security going to make the child leave the store? Or were they there to check out possible abuse?
I am sorry. I do not understand why even you were mad at the child. I do not understand why the mom was so mad at the child. I would have intervened wisely, without shaming the mom persay, and in a helpful manner.
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#8 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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I am sorry. I do not understand why even you were mad at the child. I do not understand why the mom was so mad at the child. I would have intervened wisely, without shaming the mom persay, and in a helpful manner.
I didn't get the impression that the OP is mad at the child. I got that she's saying the child was being extremely disruptive and defiant. I can guess the mother was upset for the same reason, and for breaking the dryer door.

But, that is horrendous that she would knock the child over with a cart. OMG. When you get to that point as a parent, it's clearly time to take a step back and regroup.

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#9 of 65 Old 08-14-2010, 10:35 PM
 
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I didn't get the impression that the OP is mad at the child. I got that she's saying the child was being extremely disruptive and defiant. I can guess the mother was upset for the same reason, and for breaking the dryer door.

But, that is horrendous that she would knock the child over with a cart. OMG. When you get to that point as a parent, it's clearly time to take a step back and regroup.
I think the mom did take a step back, but a moment too late. She should have made the call before she hit her daughter with the cart.

I have been on the brink a few times like that myself, and I always decide there's nothing I need in the world badly enough to endure a shopping trip like the one that mom was having with her daughter. I feel as sorry for the mom as I do for her daughter.

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#10 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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I'll tell you what I would have done - and it would have taken a LOT for me to stay calm and talk to mom in a respective tone, but I know how key that is to being heard so I woulda summoned it up:

I woulda first helped the child up (if I was close enough to get to her before she got up on her own) and woulda said "Oh honey, are you ok? That looked like it hurt!"

Then I woulda gone to mom and said as nicely as I could (but I believe this so the message woulda been sincere no matter how horrified I was): "Trust me, I know how it feels to have a child who won't listen. But I know a bit about child development and I really want to tell you that what you just did, even though I understand why you thought it was necessary... it's going to have the opposite effect. If you're trying to make her listen more, it's going to make her listen less. And it's going to make her behave worse overall in the future."

I have gone up to MANY young moms and basically said this (although I also lied and said I was a Pediatrician a couple times when I was intervening between a mom and a baby/toddler) but the message was the same, and I swear even though a few of them first looked at me like they were ready to punch me, they ALL listened and a few even asked me more questions. Sometimes it turned into a conversation about the challenges of parenting... other times it ended with me just saying again "I really do understand how frustrating it is... but I see the other end of this and parents don't realize that when they hit their kids in a situation like this, it does more to make life rotten for the parent than it does teach the kid any lesson."

I know this is much more about the child than the parent, but of course this child is with this parent so if you want to help the child, you've gotta somehow reach the parent. Even in a small way.

The other side of this though is that it's also important for children to hear someone from "outside" talk to their parent about something that was inappropriate. Even though I don't name it as such, I know that it can be lifechanging for a child (especially when that child suffers much worse abuse at home in private) to have someone address the parent and NOT the child abotu what is going on. Iv'e had a few adults tell me how lifechanging it was to finally realize that maybe... just maybe... all the chaos and pain was NOT their fault.

ETA: If mom seemed like she was willing to listen to more after I said the 1st part, I woulda also suggested if she can that next time she starts to feel that way, she call Grandma to come get her daughter BEFORE things get to the point where she wants to hit her with the shopping cart. She doesn't have to explain it again to DD, just get on the phone and say "Please come get her, she's acting up." That will teach DD much more of a productive lesson than hitting her.
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#11 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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I'll tell you what I would have done - and it would have taken a LOT for me to stay calm and talk to mom in a respective tone, but I know how key that is to being heard so I woulda summoned it up:

I woulda first helped the child up (if I was close enough to get to her before she got up on her own) and woulda said "Oh honey, are you ok? That looked like it hurt!"

Then I woulda gone to mom and said as nicely as I could (but I believe this so the message woulda been sincere no matter how horrified I was): "Trust me, I know how it feels to have a child who won't listen. But I know a bit about child development and I really want to tell you that what you just did, even though I understand why you thought it was necessary... it's going to have the opposite effect. If you're trying to make her listen more, it's going to make her listen less. And it's going to make her behave worse overall in the future."

I have gone up to MANY young moms and basically said this (although I also lied and said I was a Pediatrician a couple times when I was intervening between a mom and a baby/toddler) but the message was the same, and I swear even though a few of them first looked at me like they were ready to punch me, they ALL listened and a few even asked me more questions. Sometimes it turned into a conversation about the challenges of parenting... other times it ended with me just saying again "I really do understand how frustrating it is... but I see the other end of this and parents don't realize that when they hit their kids in a situation like this, it does more to make life rotten for the parent than it does teach the kid any lesson."

I know this is much more about the child than the parent, but of course this child is with this parent so if you want to help the child, you've gotta somehow reach the parent. Even in a small way.

The other side of this though is that it's also important for children to hear someone from "outside" talk to their parent about something that was inappropriate. Even though I don't name it as such, I know that it can be lifechanging for a child (especially when that child suffers much worse abuse at home in private) to have someone address the parent and NOT the child abotu what is going on. Iv'e had a few adults tell me how lifechanging it was to finally realize that maybe... just maybe... all the chaos and pain was NOT their fault.

ETA: If mom seemed like she was willing to listen to more after I said the 1st part, I woulda also suggested if she can that next time she starts to feel that way, she call Grandma to come get her daughter BEFORE things get to the point where she wants to hit her with the shopping cart. She doesn't have to explain it again to DD, just get on the phone and say "Please come get her, she's acting up." That will teach DD much more of a productive lesson than hitting her.
I would have approached the mom in as nonthreatening manner as possible and empathized with her but also remind her that when she gets to the point of wanting to hurt her child then she needs a break. I would tell her that when my son has days like that we leave the store and come back another day.

LROM - Lying to someone and telling them you are a doctor is not only irresponsible and dangerous, I find it incredibly pretentious that you pretend to be as qualified as a medical doctor who has spent many many years studying and training to become qualified and licensed as a doctor.
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#12 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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I feel bad for the mom. I can remember shopping trips when I was pretty close that point. It's hard to be on edge, and it's doubly hard in public.

It sounds to me like the shopping cart thing made her realize that she was snapping, so she called her child's grandma to come help out. It's too bad she didn't realize it a little sooner.

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#13 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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What makes you think that the mom needs someone to tell her she did something wrong? i would have left the situation alone.
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#14 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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What makes you think that the mom needs someone to tell her she did something wrong? i would have left the situation alone.
I agree. It sounds like she screwed up (and I'm sure we all do, though probably not so publicly, and hopefully less violently!) but it also sounds like she recognized it & immediately did what she needed to do to get herself back on track.

If someone, God forbid, witnessed me do something that bad to my child, I'd already feel terrible, and I'd already be humiliated, and especially angry with myself. At least that's how I imagine I'd feel! I would be so upset if someone came up to me to 'lecture' me on how badly I reacted.

Perhaps if the situation escalated, as a witness I would have done something (call the cops or whatever) but if it immediately diffused and no one was seriously injured -- it's not really my place, no more than it's my place to berate a parent for spanking their child. In fact, I'd venture to guess that mom felt horrible about her actions (whereas many parents spank and don't have a single qualm about it).

But that poor kid

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#15 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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Am I the only one who feels bad for the mom? The childs behavior was horrendous--if there was a time to step in it would have been while the kid was still in the dryer just to offer some moral support. That, yes, you are standing right there but you are not judging her (or the child) and that parenting is tough some times and maybe xyz would work...

I feel bad for the little girl, too, and I don't think running into your kid with a shopping cart is ever The Right Thing To Do, but reading the rundown of events that led up to it, I actually feel more compassion for the mom.
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#16 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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If someone, God forbid, witnessed me do something that bad to my child, I'd already feel terrible, and I'd already be humiliated, and especially angry with myself. At least that's how I imagine I'd feel! I would be so upset if someone came up to me to 'lecture' me on how badly I reacted.
This has happened with me. It was when ds1 was about 5 or 6 (he's now 17). I still remember it, and it still makes me cringe inside when I think about it. I've worked through the guilt over some of my worst parenting moments with ds1, although it took a long time. The shame of that confrontation never went away.

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#17 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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What makes you think that the mom needs someone to tell her she did something wrong? i would have left the situation alone.

I agree.

And I also feel a bit bad for the mom. Not excusing her behavior, but who knows what all is going on in her life.

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#18 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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even I was mad at this child by this point
I'd be livid at the mom. Get your kid OUT of the dryer!

I can imagine needing a washer that bad that you stay with your kid whose pushing buttons, but at some point you have to leave anyway. Ugh.

FWIW, my daughter loves to walk in front of the stroller. I don't know why. It literally makes my heart skip because I know how bad it hurts to skin the back of your heel. I repeat, repeat, hold her hand, but she inevitably runs right up there... to her place... right in front of the stroller / cart. And yes, one day, she did (as she usually does) stop suddenly, and my stroller slammed into her heels. She was freaking out, and everyone was glaring at me. Like I did it on purpose. I had been asking her to please, come to my side. (And yes, she still walks there... right where her heels will get skinned... I hold my breath, not good for stress management, but what can I do? Ask again? Go home... again? Ugh.)

Maybe it was a true accident?

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#19 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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LROM - Lying to someone and telling them you are a doctor is not only irresponsible and dangerous, I find it incredibly pretentious that you pretend to be as qualified as a medical doctor who has spent many many years studying and training to become qualified and licensed as a doctor.
You know, I totally understand you feeling that way. And honestly, if I was giving medical advice I would feel the same way about what I did.

But the truth is the 2 times I said that I was faced with young parents who were literally physically hurting their young toddlers (like I think each time they were under 2) and I made a quick judgement call that the only way they'd see my intervening and saying *anything* as worth listening to and not something to get defensive about and curse me out was for me to say that. I certainly don't advocate lying, but I had one and only one goal in approaching these 2 moms: have them listen to me, if only for a moment.

If that hadn't worked I was a moment away from explaining that I was a mandated reporter (which I was) and physically intervening myself, but fortunately each time the mom stopped and listened to me, mainly I think because the doctor lie made them feel less threatened than if I told them I worked for a family violence organization (which was true).

And again, while I don't advocate lying, I do want to also be clear that every single bit of information I gave those moms about what they were doing and the likely effects on both their kids, their other kids, and them as parents, was absolutely accurate and within my professional range of knowledge. I threw the pediatrician part in as a way to hopefully have them calm down from a very angry moment long enough to listen to me, which seemed to work.

Totally understand why you feel the way you do about what I did, but to be totally honest if I didn't now actually work for child welfare I'd probably do it again in those situations. The only reason I won't do it now is if I did need to intervene and get the police involved, I obviously can't misrepresent who I am and who I work for. But if I didn't work for CPS, as a private citizen trying to stop a serious situation from getting even worse... yup, I'd say it again if I couldn't think of another way to get the parent to stop and listen. In my private life (i.e. not as part of my regular workday) I've probably intervened in 25+ sticky stranger situations over the years between adults and kids in public, and each time I only have two main goals: stop a kid from getting hurt, and help a parent/adult caretaker to maybe maybe see another way of handling the situation. Those were the only 2 times I lied, and given all said above, I'm glad I did it given the response from each of those parents.
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#20 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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Am I the only one who feels bad for the mom? The childs behavior was horrendous--
This can be hard to accept when you've just seen it "explode". Usually in these situations I feel bad for the child because many times the kid isn't disciplined at home and then the parent gets embarrassed at the store when they don't behave and they the parent does something extreme to show he/she is in charge.

I am NOT saying that any child that mis-behaves in public isn't disciplined at home! My kids act like many others do!

But I have know soooo many people who didn't discipline and teach at home and then blamed the child and threw their hands up and said "See, what can I do?"

I can empathize with the mother about getting to the breaking point but as adults we need to be more mature and stop ourselves. But why didn't mom reach in that dryer and get that kid out, plop them in the cart and leave?

I don't think I would have said anything.

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#21 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I wouldn't have said anything because store employees were already involved- and I'd trust that Security would have called CPS if that was warrented in this situation.

What else can the mom do at that point? She got somebody else to care for the child to give herself a break. She completed her shopping (which might have been absolutely necessary- maybe her washer just broke and she's got mountains of laundry piling up at home.)

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#22 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 05:58 PM
 
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I feel for the Mother. It sounds like she was at the end of her rope. To top it all off everyone's standing around staring at the whole mess.

Now, I'm not saying she was right in running her kid down with the shopping cart at all. It's just unfortunate that it escalated to that point.

My kids have tested me in public lots of times, more often than not I haul them out of there before the urge to knock their heads together becomes more than an urge. (I wouldn't actually) End result, we go home, kids get plunked in front of the tv and I go chill out.

But sometimes there's a fantastic stranger, whether they be a salesclerk or just another shopper who pull my kids (and me) out of their funk. There was the Home Depot saleslady who brought over a handful of paint samples and some pens and asked the kids to draw some pictures for the store, and the old guy in the Winn Dixie line who opened his box of donuts and told my kids if they sit nicely on the floor they could have one. They did. (of course)
And many more....and they never fail to say "oh I remember those days...I had X kids...your a busy mom, etc..." It ALWAYS diffuses the situation.
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#23 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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But sometimes there's a fantastic stranger, whether they be a salesclerk or just another shopper who pull my kids (and me) out of their funk. There was the Home Depot saleslady who brought over a handful of paint samples and some pens and asked the kids to draw some pictures for the store, and the old guy in the Winn Dixie line who opened his box of donuts and told my kids if they sit nicely on the floor they could have one. They did. (of course)
And many more....and they never fail to say "oh I remember those days...I had X kids...your a busy mom, etc..." It ALWAYS diffuses the situation.
this.

if the mom had been repeatedly ramming the kid, or it seemed obvious that she intended to do it again, I would consider stepping in, because that would be actual prevention. after the fact, it's not really prevention.
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#24 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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I don't think you should have done anything. It sounds like mother got herself together and did what she needed to do to make sure the situation didn't escalate. Not a great parenting moment, but not worth calling the police over, and I don't think they couldn't have done anything about it anyway. I bet the manager and security guy were there either by coincidence or to make sure the little girl didn't come back to mom and start climbing into more expensive appliances and breaking them. I'm sure working in a large retail store like that, they've seen a lot worse than an intentional cart bump and wouldn't waste their time on it.

I also don't think stepping in post cart bump would have been wise either. They were already having a hard time, and the mom was trying to get out of a bad situation. Stepping in at that point would have likely only made the mom more upset and kept her from doing what she needed to do. I think it was best just to let it lie.
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#25 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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This has happened with me. It was when ds1 was about 5 or 6 (he's now 17). I still remember it, and it still makes me cringe inside when I think about it. I've worked through the guilt over some of my worst parenting moments with ds1, although it took a long time. The shame of that confrontation never went away.
Yes. I didn't ram my kid with a shopping cart, but I can remember one of my worst moments with one of my kids, and I think, if anyone was there and saw me, and came to me and started in on me...I think it would have really damaged my ability to learn fom the situation. I mean, after the exchange between me and my kid that I will forever regret, I felt AWFUL. I felt sooooo guilty, and like such a bad mother. I knew I was not parenting the way I should have. But I was so deep in a hole, and I was just trying to figure out how to get out. If I got lost in that guilt, I never would have come out. I would have become paralyzed.

I am glad this mom called for help eventually, even if it was later than would have been best.

The mom sounds like she lacked some skill from the get-go. The situation escalated because she was struggling to deal with it effectively in the first place, and it probably got even worse than it would have at home because all these eyes were on her and she was feeling judged and vulnerable. People act differently in those types of situations because they have the "fight or flight" chemistry happening in their brains.

She is trying to run a long-distance marathon on one leg. You think laying the law down with her when she has fallen is going to help her get up?

The situation deserved a compassionate response much earlier...compassionate toward both the child and the mother. Some folks have offered some good examples of such responses. I especially liked the one that came much earlier in the situation and started with telling the mom you weren't judging her.

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#26 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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You know, while I understand what you're saying those of you saying "stepping in after the fact would have only made matters worse", I guess it all depends on why you thought intervening was the thing to do in the first place?

Defintely preventing further imminent harm, if the parent seems to be about to do more actual damage, is a reason to intervene.

But my experience in talking to parents in situations like this is that almost across the board, once they calm down, they say how NICE it is to have someone talk to them with compassion. (They don't necessarily say "compassion" but so many have said to me "No one ever seems to understand.... maybe you do...")

For me, even though my ultimate goal is to help a child, I feel like most parents act like this because they don't know any better. I'm not saying this "role" is for everyone, but I reach out because my experience so far is that parents APPRECIATE someone saying "Hey, this is really hard. But you know, there are other ways... have you tried this?" Or "Do you realize this is going to backfire, but here's something else that might work for you instead?"

That's the spirit in which I approach, and yes to some (I've been told this before on MDC, not just in this thread ) saying anything at all is being a high and mighty busy-body. But my experience tells me otherwise (heck, actual MOMS have told me otherwise), and that's what I go on.

And even though my own is still young, I've already experienced what it feels like to have someone WELL MEANING offer support (which I always always appreciate in a hard moment) as well as having someone comment disapprovingly (usually because I had DD at a concert, even though she's wearing ear protectors) and really, the spirit in which the comment is made/intervention happens seems to make ALL the difference in how helpful/hurtful it is in the end.

Shaming a parent is never a solution. But going up and saying "This is hard... I totally understand. Have you ever tried this?" Some of you might balk at that as an intervention, but I notice all of you have also said you would never actually slam your child with a shopping cart. (Feel like it maybe, but not do it). And you guys felt bad about it right away. The parents I've intervened with, it seemed pretty clear they saw *nothing* wrong with how they'd handled it. They might have been embarrassed by their kid's behavior, but not by their own.

To me that's exactly what separates a parent like this from one who's just having a regular crappy parenting day. This parent actually slammed her child.

And that's why for me, I always try to find some way to intervene when it's gotten to the point of being badly physical, even after the fact. Because I may be (and have been, according to some moms) the only person who's ever given them any other useful info about how it's going to bite them later and what else they could try to do instead.
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#27 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 07:21 PM
 
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nak

had a terrible parenting moment with dd1 a few weeks ago. no cart but grabbed her arm and really screamed angrily at her. felt like total wreck over it then and now. had extended heart to heart with dd about it later, apologised to her and was forgiven. if anyone had said a single word to me about it i think i would have never gotten over it. it was bad enough, you know? i didn't need interference, i needed to be out of the rain with the baby, and i needed dd to understand why shredding her jacket sleeve was a bad idea. i knew shouting wasn't the best way to accomplish either. i knew i wasn't doing the right thing by her or by me. i really didn't need to be told anything, there was nothing to be said or done that would help.

So i don't think anything needed to be said or done. a parenting lesson in that moment, however well-meant, is like a road safety lesson after a bus has hit you - you're not in a place to listen well, and have wounds which need attention first.
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#28 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 09:45 PM
 
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But my experience in talking to parents in situations like this is that almost across the board, once they calm down, they say how NICE it is to have someone talk to them with compassion. (They don't necessarily say "compassion" but so many have said to me "No one ever seems to understand.... maybe you do...")
But what else are they supposed to say? "Thank you for making me feel even more ashamed & butting into my life?" No, they have to somehow 'save face' so to speak... So they play along... I'm not saying you're not being helpful, I don't doubt that some (maybe even most/all) of the parents you've intervened with have been incredibly grateful. Maybe you have a natural ability to communicate these kinds of lessons without being judgmental or condescending, especially due to your career/life experience. It's just really hard for me to picture this in my head -- how you can say it without offending the mom, and how you can offer advice without sounding high & mighty -- I do think the average person wouldn't come off as being 'compassionate.' I cannot imagine myself being anything but annoyed and embarrassed and upset if someone approached me like this. No, most of us wouldn't push a cart into our child -- but many might grab the kid a little too roughly, or push them aside a little too aggressively, it's just degrees of difference. I also don't think you (general you) can judge whether a person feels remorse just by their outward actions. People tend to get defensive when caught red-handed, and I know many who would deflect the blame to the misbehaving child rather than admit they reacted badly.

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#29 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 10:12 PM
 
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Defintely preventing further imminent harm, if the parent seems to be about to do more actual damage, is a reason to intervene.

But my experience in talking to parents in situations like this is that almost across the board, once they calm down, they say how NICE it is to have someone talk to them with compassion. (They don't necessarily say "compassion" but so many have said to me "No one ever seems to understand.... maybe you do...")

For me, even though my ultimate goal is to help a child, I feel like most parents act like this because they don't know any better. I'm not saying this "role" is for everyone, but I reach out because my experience so far is that parents APPRECIATE someone saying "Hey, this is really hard. But you know, there are other ways... have you tried this?" Or "Do you realize this is going to backfire, but here's something else that might work for you instead?"

That's the spirit in which I approach, and yes to some (I've been told this before on MDC, not just in this thread ) saying anything at all is being a high and mighty busy-body. But my experience tells me otherwise (heck, actual MOMS have told me otherwise), and that's what I go on.
Yeah - um, that would piss me off. So, I had a less-than-wonderful parenting moment in public, so I must "not know any better"? Seriously? The underlying arrogance of that is absolutely appalling. I also wouldn't feel that someone was being even remotely compassionate when they came up to explain to me how my parenting sucked and would bite me later, and how I "should" be doing xyz, instead.

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And even though my own is still young, I've already experienced what it feels like to have someone WELL MEANING offer support (which I always always appreciate in a hard moment) as well as having someone comment disapprovingly (usually because I had DD at a concert, even though she's wearing ear protectors) and really, the spirit in which the comment is made/intervention happens seems to make ALL the difference in how helpful/hurtful it is in the end.
Yes - and when the spirit is "I'd better tell this mom another way, because she obviously doesn't know what she's doing", it's not going to go over well with some people. It's also not "intervening" when the situation has already blown over. The woman in the OP left, and called someone.

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Shaming a parent is never a solution. But going up and saying "This is hard... I totally understand. Have you ever tried this?" Some of you might balk at that as an intervention, but I notice all of you have also said you would never actually slam your child with a shopping cart. (Feel like it maybe, but not do it). And you guys felt bad about it right away. The parents I've intervened with, it seemed pretty clear they saw *nothing* wrong with how they'd handled it. They might have been embarrassed by their kid's behavior, but not by their own.

To me that's exactly what separates a parent like this from one who's just having a regular crappy parenting day. This parent actually slammed her child.
I've never slammed my child with a cart. I have manhandled ds1 in public. It was not a "regular crappy parenting day", but it certainly wasn't out of any belief that it was the right way to handle it. I was mortified by the whole situation, and somebody standing by thinking, "that woman has no clue what she's doing" would have no idea what I was embarrassed about...and I was more defensive and bitchy when I knew I was in the wrong, because it was humiliating to be handling things so badly in a public place, on top of whatever else was going on with me that contributed to going over the edge. Anyone basing their opinion of how I felt about my interaction with my son on how I reacted to their butting in would have been way off base.

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And that's why for me, I always try to find some way to intervene when it's gotten to the point of being badly physical, even after the fact. Because I may be (and have been, according to some moms) the only person who's ever given them any other useful info about how it's going to bite them later and what else they could try to do instead.
That's fine. We all draw the line in different places, and I wouldn't intervene after the fact. FWIW, I've known at least two women in the last 5-6 years who would smile nicely at you, thank you for the information, and then go home and punish their children for the humiliation they experienced at being talked down to in public. It might have been a success for you, but it wouldn't have been for their kids.

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#30 of 65 Old 08-16-2010, 10:12 PM
 
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a parenting lesson in that moment, however well-meant, is like a road safety lesson after a bus has hit you - you're not in a place to listen well, and have wounds which need attention first.
So well said. I agree completely.

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