Do you say anything if a child is doing something that might hurt others but the parent is right there? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This has happened to me a few times recently. I usually don't say anything but just move my own child out of 'range'. The problem is that then, when a child inevitably gets hurt, I feel guilty for standing by and letting it happen. 

 

The latest incident was in our neighbourhood. All the mums were there and the kids were riding bikes. One boy (age 4) started doing this thing where he would ride really close to someone and stick out his leg (nearest them) but just miss them. He did it to me and my toddler and a few others but then he did it to a child and his foot made contact and they both fell off their bikes. Of course, I felt guilty for not trying to prevent what was obviously going to happen and my guilt made me say to the mum that I thought there was 'some intention' there. She said no, he just wasn't looking where he was going. Then he did it again and she saw so she said, oh he's just trying to show off his new balancing skill. I think it's great that she is sticking up for him and I probably shouldn't have said anything. She did tell him not to do it again though so maybe I prevented another mishap, who knows. 

 

Anyway, what's the best way to deal? Mind your own business? Passive aggressively say loudly to your own child 'lets move away before someone gets hurt'? Ask the parent to stop their child? Try to talk to the child? None of those options seem great to me. Any more ideas? 

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#2 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 03:52 PM
 
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This is what happened to me last night:

 

I had my DD at her gymnastics class, and there was some sort of meeting going on this week which meant there was a bunch of parents and kiddos I had never seen before. The kids were left unsupervised in the play area while the parents had their meeting. This play area is a tiny corner of the lobby, with a 5 inch tv, one child sized chair, 30 books, and a basket of wooden blocks. This probably 8-10 year old kid and a 5-6 year old kid proceeded to dump out the basket of wooden blocks, and start chunking them at each other. As if this weren't bad enough, they then started bobbing and weaving though the 30 seats about 3/4 full of adults there to watch our children at practice. Throwing them past people's heads at each other. At this point, a couple of parents came and told THEIR kids (not these two boys) to come sit down and stay in the back row, farthest from the play area and closest to the meeting. After a minute or so, only the two trouble makers were left, and they were still going at it.

 

Background: This place is usually VERY reserved. It is near silent while our children are practicing. The adults are either rapt with attention, or hiding in their electronics. DH and I have often commented that it's strange that NONE of the parents seem to form friendships, which is so unlike all of the other activities DD is involved in.

 

So, these two kids are being "ninjas" throughout the chairs, and yelling "FRISBEE!!!!!" as they chuck blocks at each others faces. And making up rules super loud that everyone can obviously hear like "If I hit you 3 times, then I'll let you hit me once." These two ladies that always sit next to each other get hit -- count them -- FOUR times by these kids.

 

If my DD was in the play area, and not out on the floor, I would have pulled her out of the situation as the parents of the other kids in the lobby did. As it was, I certainly didn't want to get injured though either. So I pulled the passive aggressive move and loudly commented to DH: "Are they REALLY going to let these kids run around and throw things at each other around all these people??" Yeah, it was a petty move on my part, but you know what? Two seconds later a lady in a sweater stood up (I'm assuming it was mom) and started wagging her finger in the older boys face talking very low but stern to him, and the two boys started picking up all the blocks and putting them away. About 10 minutes later the younger one said "Lets play like we were before!" And then started throwing the blocks again. So, I kept up with the same tactic and said to DH: "If my kids ever act like THAT..." And sweater lady came back over and took the block out of the younger kid's hand, and pulled the same finger wagging stern voice routine. Luckily a few minutes after that meeting was over and the boys left. Honestly, if the passive aggressiveness didn't accomplish what I was looking for (These kids to stop endangering themselves and others) then I was about to get up and take the box of blocks out of the play area and set them on the high counter top. I probably just should have done that in the first place, I don't know.


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#3 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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I step in and ask the other child, respectfully and in a cheery voice, to stop. I've never had another parent get mad at me, but I'm sure it will happen eventually.
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#4 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 05:59 PM
 
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If I have my wits about me, I might loudly say something like "You need to ride farther away from everyone if you are going to stick out your legs when you ride past them."

 

My own ds tended to see how close he could come to something while still missing, like throwing things near people, not at them. But he'd sometimes miss and actually hit them. So I was always needing to be mindful of him and he was always at risk of people thinking he was intentionally doing things that were accidents. I'm so glad he's older and more reasonable!


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#5 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 07:26 PM
 
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Heck yes, I say something. I figure it takes a village and sometimes for whatever reason, the parent might not be aware of the situation. I always say things kindly so as not to offend other parents but I'm sure there will be a parent that eventually gets mad at me. :) I would just shrug it off if that ever happened. I'm more concerned about the safety of all the children playing more than whether some parent likes me or not.  This is not to say that I'm a helicopter parent or anything and I would hope that if someone saw my son misbehaving, they would tell him in a nice way to cut it out. I can't always be aware of what he does so I'm grateful if someone sees something and does something about it before people get hurt.

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#6 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 08:10 PM
 
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I would say something to the child in a casual way, "Be careful there, Joey!  We don't want anyone to get hurt!"   If you say it in a cheerful voice it won't intimidate the child and saying his name might grab his mom's attention to alert her "gently" to the fact that he's up to something.  If it is someone you play with regularly, I wouldn't hesitate.  If it's a stranger at a park, I think I'd still throw it out there without using their name, of course.


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#7 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 10:08 PM
 
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I usually say something like "Are you going to to stop *whatever it is that they shouldn't be doing* now, or am I going talk to your mom/daycare about it?" but I'm usually dealing with school-aged kids. Sometimes I'll ask a kid if their mom lets them throw rocks or whatever it is they're doing that they shouldn't be and that is usually enough to make them decide to play something else.


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#8 of 18 Old 02-03-2012, 11:07 PM
 
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I usually say something like "hey, be careful" or "watch your foot there, you might hit somebody".

 

In the block throwing incident I would have walked over, looked them both in the eye and told them it wasn't safe to do that. If they kept at it, I'd take the basket, pick up the blocks and take them with me. Then I'd ask them where their parents were, and possibly march them over to their parents and explain what they were doing.

 

I have no trouble telling other people what to do. It's one of my more endearing qualities. winky.gif (And it really embarrasses my kids!)

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#9 of 18 Old 02-04-2012, 10:25 AM
 
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As long as it isn't my child doing, or getting hurt, I usually mind my own business.  I'll move my own child, and if it was a child I felt responsible for, I'd move him or her too.

 

I have NO problem telling someone else's child to "knock it off" if it involves me in some way.  It doesn't bother me at all if the child's parents are offended.  One time we were at an Olive Garden, and a boy about age three was opening and closing the sliding door next to our table.  His own table was several tables away, so I assumed his parents couldn't hear me, and I said "Knock it off and go back to your own table".  He did.  But, on their way out, his mom stopped and said "You have no right to discipline my child".... "Yes, but i didn't discipline him, I told him to stop and go away..I would say that to an adult."

 

So, my theory is, if you would tell an adult to stop something because it's going to cause trouble for someone else, then it's OK to tell the kid to stop.   If there's an adult driving his shopping cart recklessly, and you'd tell him to stop, then you can say the same thing to a child.  BUT, if you would just move away from him, if he were an adult, then just move away from the child.

 

Kids do dangerous things.  They learn from getting hurt.  They learn from making bad choices, and they learn from other's bad choices.  So, unless it's serious, I let them learn.

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#10 of 18 Old 02-04-2012, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. I'm surprised so many would say something. That's my impulse (teacher!) but I usually fight it. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post

My own ds tended to see how close he could come to something while still missing, like throwing things near people, not at them. But he'd sometimes miss and actually hit them. 

Actually, on reflection, I think this is what was going on with the little boy on the bike. 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

Kids do dangerous things.  They learn from getting hurt.  They learn from making bad choices, and they learn from other's bad choices.  So, unless it's serious, I let them learn.

I know what you mean but as a parent I wouldn't really want another child to learn the lesson 'sometimes you get knocked off your bike from behind with no warning and for no reason' from my kid. 

 

In the example I gave I should have said something but in the real life situation it was difficult. I was dealing with my toddler, the other mum was on the phone I think, the kid in question is the kind that you have to physically 'catch', get down to his level and get eye contact in order to speak to, and even then he doesn't usually listen. The other day I had to carry him home because he wouldn't stop throwing ice near (not at) the other kids. I was the adult in charge at that time so I was fine with doing that. In another situation, we were at a play area and a kid was racing round with a baby walker and almost sending all the littler kids flying. I had no idea who his parents were and there was no way he would have even heard me if I'd said anything. Luckily there was a play supervisor there so I was able to give her the heads up. 

 

In the block throwing incident I think I would have loudly asked the boys 'where are your parents'. If that didn't do the trick I would have spoken to them about their behaviour directly. That sounded wild! 
 

 

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#11 of 18 Old 02-04-2012, 02:27 PM
 
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We have a mom's group where we usually hang around with all our kids, so all the kids know all the adults, and the adults kinda take turns talking with the other mom's and kid chasing.  So I have no issue with telling other people's kids to knock it off, and within this mom's group, I don't mind if people tell my ds to stop if need be.   But we all parent in a similar fashion.   

 

 

I've had parents yell at my ds for climbing on certian things at the playground - my kid is a climber, he knows his limits though and will only climb things he can climb down from, so its anoying when people intervine for things like that - my ds isn't going to hurt anyone else but himself and both he and I are paying attention to weather that is going to happen.   I also had one lady say to ds "if you were my kid I'd smack you for that" (I can't even remember what he had done, but it was something minor and non-dangerous).  now THAT is not ok with me.  But telling him not to throw something at another kid or to go ride his bike away from where little kids are crawling on the floor -  yep, go ahead and tell him, because I would have if I had got there first/seen what happened. 

 

 

I've had to tell kids to cut it out many times, kids that were shoving smaller kids off the play equipment, kids wacking sticks on the slide as other kids came down, and kdis just being mean!  Almost every time they listen to me, the only time they didn't I asked where the kids mom was and he pointed and stopped right away.  

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#12 of 18 Old 02-04-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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Yes, I'm definitely the type to pipe up. Like rocketgirl, I go with the whole "it takes a village" thing.

There are certainly situations where it just boils down to parenting styles and what different parents are comfortable with. For instance, in leighi123's example, I wouldn't tell another child not to use playground equipment in an unconventional way (unless my child were there first, using it conventionally, and impeded by the unconventional/dangerous behavior) because I figure that comes down to parenting styles and comfort levels. But in the situation you describe in the OP or in the block-throwing situation another poster described, it's less about parenting style and more about endangerment, and in those circumstances, I would feel justified in saying, "That's dangerous, and somebody's going to get hurt. Please don't do that again."
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#13 of 18 Old 02-05-2012, 02:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace and Granola View Post

I would say something to the child in a casual way, "Be careful there, Joey!  We don't want anyone to get hurt!"   If you say it in a cheerful voice it won't intimidate the child and saying his name might grab his mom's attention to alert her "gently" to the fact that he's up to something.  If it is someone you play with regularly, I wouldn't hesitate.  If it's a stranger at a park, I think I'd still throw it out there without using their name, of course.

I like this approach with acquaintances & strangers, followed by moving my kid elsewhere if my caution is ignored.

With people who are close friends or that I'm often 'in charge' of, I have no problem stepping in, getting to the kid's eye level, etc., even if I'm not officially 'in charge' at the moment. Among my friends, we all look out for each other & each others' kids. If it's a major issue and/or continues, I might say something to the kid's parent like, "Timmy is having trouble with hitting right now," so the parent can step in but it rarely comes to that.

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#14 of 18 Old 02-05-2012, 11:19 PM
 
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I hate this issue!  And it always seems like the kids who're being crazy enough that they need "a talking to" are the ones who's parents never happen to see what's going on.  It drives me crazy.  We used to know this really insanely violent two year old who's mom was wonderful in every single way except that her back was turned to him every single time he hit another kid in the head with a baseball bat (well, okay, that only happened once, but it was so typical).  

 

Anyhow...  I would say talking directly to the child or to the parent is much preferable to the passive aggressive talking to child loudly enough for parent to hear, at least in a situation where you have any sort of relationship with the other family.  I used to have a friend that did the passive aggressive thing all the time, usually to kids/moms that were part of our social group and it was unpleasant.  Then, it happened to me once at a playground not too long ago with someone I didn't know.  My kid was being a little rude.  He was probably 2 1/2 or a little older at the time and all the sudden got this little wave of assertiveness.  He went running over to this kid that was on a two-seater fire engine thing and I thought he was going to cheerfully jump on the second seat, but instead, he said, in a really gruff voice "Get off my fire engine!"  shy.gif  So I said something to the kid and something to my kid, like "Oh I'm sorry, that wasn't very nice!  Augie, he was here first, it's not your fire truck, ya know!"  But I actually wasn't PO'd, just surprised because I hadn't seen him do anything like that before.  And the other mom clearly did not think I was harsh enough on him for it.  And wow, did she ever have a LOUD conversation with her kid about it in my earshot.  It was so obnoxious!  And come to think of it, Augie hasn't acted like that since.  I think he was kind of trying it out, iykwim, and it didn't have the desired effect, I guess.  I think I was just the right amount harsh about it.  I think talking directly to either child or parent can be taken badly, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  


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#15 of 18 Old 02-06-2012, 03:37 PM
 
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I always say something.  I start by assuming the child doing the scary behavior does not intend to hurt someone, even though it looks highly likely they will.  And I deal with them, not as a child who's trying to hurt, but as a child who doesn't see the likely consequence of what they're doing.

 

I usually start by directly addressing the child doing whatever "Honey, please don't do that.  You're coming close to hitting/landing/hurting other kids.  If you want to throw blocks, please throw them where there are no other kids around, like over there....".  I figure, if what the kid is doing is obviously going to hurt someone, even if their parent has an issue with me addressing the kid direclty, I will explain what they were doing and that I was just letting them know how they could still do it more safely.  To date, and I talk to a lot of kids, no parent has ever had an issue with me saying this.


There have been a couple occaisions where what the other child was doing was so dangerous, I went up to them and asked them who they were there with.  I saw one girl push 2 kids off a slide ladder (like, not down the slide, but off the ladder!), and another time I saw a kid pushing younger kids to the concrete ground really roughly).  There have been a few other times like these.  Each time  I went over to whoever they were with, and told the adult what the child was doing.  Most times the adult talked to the kid and removed them from that situation.  A couple of times they just half-heartedly said "So and so, stop it!" and then ignored them again.  If the kid keeps doing it, honestly, I just walk right over and look right at them, especially if it's near my kid, adn they always go somewhere else.

 

While it is NOT my job to teach or discipline other kids for bad behavior, they are still kids and I CAN look out for my kid and other kids who might get hurt by that behavior.  I don't intervene when they're doing crazy stuff on their own, but when it's in proximity to other kids, yeah, I always say something.  If ever my kid was near a kid doing bad things and I didn't notice andanother parent did, I'd want them to say something.  And if my kid was the one badly behaving and putting other kids in danger, of course I'd want someone to say something.  Just this weekend I was telling her and her friend to watch where they threw the wood chips that are on the floor of the playground.  There was a 1 yr old watching them, and they were having a ballbut I told them they had to move to where there were no kids to do that.  I would not have been mad if another parent had seen them and said it first.

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#16 of 18 Old 02-07-2012, 01:42 PM
 
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I would definitely say something to the kid, and if he didn't listen, I'd seek out his parents and talk to them.

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#17 of 18 Old 02-08-2012, 05:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

I step in and ask the other child, respectfully and in a cheery voice, to stop. I've never had another parent get mad at me, but I'm sure it will happen eventually.


This exactly.  If something is dangerous, they don't automatically get to follow through.  No one deserves to get hurt.


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#18 of 18 Old 02-08-2012, 09:18 AM
 
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Usually I go directly to the kid and tell him the behavior is concerning me because I need everyone to be safe(or whatever other reason) and then see if he is willing to be more careful, or may'be redirect his play to a different area so no one gets hurt. If the behavior is still ongoing after that I quietly redirect my kiddo and have a short talk with them that sometimes other kids don't always play nicely and that's fine but when they do that we should just give them their space. If the child were doing something dangerous I would approach the parents, usually I just say something along the lines of "do you realize your child is doing xyz right near the other kids, it was concerning me a bit so thought I'd give you a heads up".


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