Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dealing With Other People's Kids

Okay, so this is something I've been wondering about for a while now, and I thought I'd throw the question out to some more experienced moms....What should I do when other kids are "misbehaving" towards my son, and the other kid's parents don't notice?

Scenario 1: I give Sly a snack, which he's eating happily.  A bigger kid comes over and grabs it away.  Sly holds out his hands saying, "eh eh", asking for it back.  Older kid says, "no!  it's mine!" and walks away with it, leaving Sly looking sad and confused.

Scenario 2: Sly is at a playground, and blocking the path another kid wants to take.  The older kid shoves him down, yelling, "MOVE, baby!"

Both these things have actually happened, as well as various similar incidents.  And most of the time I just sorta stand off to the side, watching uncomfortably, unsure how to react.  Half the time, the offending child's parent will have noticed, and they come over to correct them.  But what happens when they don't?  What am I entitled to say or do to the other kid??

Sly playing with other kids at the pumpkin patch last October (no incidents occurred that day)

One thing - besides my natural shyness - that makes this a difficult situation for me is that I only feel equipped to deal with kids who are Sly's age or younger.  Sly is eighteen months old now, so through experience with him, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on where kids that age are developmentally.  I know what things they should understand and react to.  If there's an older kid involved, though, I just feel like I'm at a loss.  I don't know what "works" with them.

Would other parents be offended if I somehow corrected their child verbally?  If I physically took back some object the kid had grabbed from my son? I have a feeling they might....But can I just sit back and let it happen?

How much of a difference does it make if I know the other kid's parent?

Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't even intervene, as long as no one's getting hurt?  You know, let Sly develop a tougher skin and learn how to navigate the complex world of social interactions himself.

Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.


  1. I tend to watch my 3 year old daughter like a hawk because I know she can play rough sometimes. If she does anything like knocking another kid over, I tell her to apologize.

    If I don't know the kid, I'd be reluctant to say anything. Though if a kid took my daughter's snack or one of her toys, I'd probably say something. Or if they hurt my daughter in anyway, I'd go all mama bear *L*

    If I know the kid, I'd definitely say something. Of course, most of the time my daughter and I play with my best friend and her daughter. My best friend and I know each other well enough that we feel comfortable saying 'no no' to each other's kids.

  2. I am not very experienced as my oldest is a little over 18 months as well. However, I would say that if another child did either of those things to mine, I would probably say something. That would be unless the parent of the other child was standing right there and was already dealing with it. I do completely agree that it is hard to know what to do. It is really easy to say what I think while sitting in my living room at home.

    So sorry you have to deal with it!

  3. I think that when your child is too young to speak for themselves you should step in. Taking back a snack or toy using the words and tone you would like him to use when he is able is how I did it with my daughter. As for physical stuff, if I am right there I step in to correct the other kids behavior using my words but keeping it light. If the child is much older I would step over to the parents and let them know what their child had done in as non-judgemental way as possible."I just wanted to let you know your son pushed my baby down while he was playing"

    If I'm not near enough to step in right away I step in to explain to my child that the other kids doesn't understand about babies; since many kids don't have experience with infants and toddlers most likely they don't get that a baby or toddler doesn't know that they are "in the way"

    I've found that my super shy nature has to be pushed aside in favor of being an advocate for my children.

  4. I have an 8.5 year old and an almost 3 year old. My advice is to approach these situations the way you would want someone to deal with your child if you for some reason are unaware of what is going on.

    In scenario #1: You could tell the other child "You can have some too but we have to share okay?"

    Scenario #2: Gently remind the other child it is not polite to push especially not babies.

    Of course you cannot control everything and there is a good chance the other child will just run off but that is okay. I find more often than not the other child is willing to listen and play nice and usually the parents are more embarrassed than angry. So don't be afraid to speak up, nicely of course : )

  5. Some parents are very touchy about other people correcting their child and will have no problem freaking out on another parent for saying something to their child. That said, I have no qualms about speaking up to other people's children when they do something to one of mine, but I do try to make sure I exercise extreme patience and charity when dealing with them. I'm also not opposed to other parents saying something to my children if they do something they shouldn't, but I'm not afraid to unleash my inner mamma bear if someone crosses the line when speaking to my child.

    Scenario 1, I'd approach the child and tell him or her to give back my child's snack/toy and let them know that it's not nice to take things that don't belong to them.

    Scenario 2 I'd tell the child that it's not nice to push babies and that they need to be gentle around little ones.

  6. It depends on the situation and how old the other child is. If the other child is the same age or younger then my child and pushes or hits her I usually don't say anything but if it is an older child I do. Older child should know better. I try not to reprimand other people's children but if they physically hurt my child then I do. Same would go if they took something from her.

  7. I usually correct the other child gently and if that doesn't work, I enlist the help of the other mom. We have physical therapy with Daniel at a park and there are times when I've had to tell kids gently to wait until Daniel is done. If they do something that causes danger, I'll usually get their mother involved. So far, none of the moms have minded and they have disciplined their kids.

    I came by to check in and see how things are going. I think about you guys often.

  8. As a mom of 3 grown children, a daycare owner and currently a Nanny, I've dealt with this for years! When the child is young and cannot speak for themselves, you have to step in. I always watch "mine" and am very protective. Kids just acting like kids but if a mom doesn't see it then its up to you to gently reprimand the child. If Mom does see it and turns away, just take a deep breathe and do it anyway. If she says anything, stand your ground. Especially if the child is much older than your little guy. Kids will be kids, and you want your child to learn how to defend themselves but all in good time. An 18 month old is not old enough to "learn" this. This is what I call the "yucky part" of child rearing. Especially if you do tend to be shy. However when it comes to your child, go deep within yourself and embrace the "Mama Bear" that is in all of us. :-)

  9. I'm a newer blog follower, I hope you don't mind me responding. In scenario one I'd ask the child for the snack back and if they dint comply, I'd find the mommy and discuss it with her. In the second, I'd grab sly and bring him to a different area to play away from the mean kids. I'm sorry that happened to you. Alisa.

  10. I am the mother of 4 grown kids and a teaching assistant in the local public school. I used to be very reluctant to correct another person's child. When older children in the neighborhood took toys from my child, I would let him "work it out". Now I am older and, I think, wiser. Now, I would tell that child it is not nice to grab things from another child; you need to give it back. If you want to share, ask nicely. As for pushing, definitely speak up. I often waited for other parents to do something, but too often, they simply ignored the situation. You can correct a child nicely, but do not be afraid to be firm. You are responsible for protecting your child and you should not have to apologize for doing so. (I am told we get more assertive after menopause. I think that is true :-)

  11. You know who I am ;)

    If the child is the same age or younger, perhaps go the "sharing" route. Little people don't always "get it" and so there is an opportunity to teach Sly that dealing with others, especially younger, is not always fair. (Great prep for any siblings that might come along later).

    If the child is older, please say something (as nicely as possible). Whether or not the mom saw it/reacted, it is important that the kid has an idea that what he did was wrong. He may not hear it at home but if he hears it from you, perhaps he will think before repeating the behavior.

    That being said, be open to a mother going off about you reprimanding her child (which is why I said as nicely as possible). It sounds odd but that has happened as well. Thankfully, most of my experience has been the mom apologizing even if she doesn't make the kid follow suit.

    Finally, if this happens with my kids, reprimand them immediately(!) and then come find me. When I am chasing everyone, I don't always see what's going on but I am more than open to people pointing out situations such as you mention. Kids are kids and they do selfish things but that doesn't mean they should be excused.

  12. I have three boys (6, 5, 14months) and have been on both sides of the table. If there is an older child that is taking things, or pushing your child around I think that it is your right to speak up, if nothing else more than to protect your child. If something is taken from your child with out permission that needs to be addressed. And don't be afraid to be assertive if needed. IF there is a child that is younger or a similar age as your child I find it better to be a little more gentle and explain that you can't take with out asking, or maybe if you ask we can share kind of approach. Pushing can be tough. Sometimes kids just get so involved in their play that they don't really realize what they just did. I usually approach that by bringing to their attention what just happened. In most cases for me that has resolved itself and the child apologized with out me even having to say anything.

  13. Say something. Its ok,really. :) I have five kids, my oldest is 15, and I just don't see everything.I have no problem whatsoever with another parent correcting something they see my child doing. Most are probably embarassed by whaat their child did and that mkght come across as irritation with you. But I don't think most moms would really be annoyed with you. Those that are will get over it.. :) Keep it light and judgement free...since all kids bulldoze other kids from time to time...and I think most moms will be ok with it.

  14. That is flat out bullying and the other childs parents need to be made aware. I would definately say something. Im shy and not very outspoken either but the mama bear instinct kicks in when its my own kids. I dont have a problem with other people correcting my kid if they do something wrong as long as its not abusive. Sometimes I dont catch all that they do and they need to be aware that their actions hurt other people.

  15. I say (loudly) "Ohh, Lets give the little one back HIS food/toy/etc" or "Be careful not to knock over the LITTLE ones"

    I will almost ALWAYS say something. Some parents miss things, others need a public sanction to keep a reign on their kiddo.. I see it that i am his protector. (Now that he is three I do stand off a bit to allow him to work out interpersonal dynamics.)


  16. Like the commenter above me, I try to make sure the bigger kids doesnt feel like I am yelling at them, but I say something along the lines of 'watch out for the kids that arent as big as you'. I dont say it in a mean way, and I dont really think of it as disciplining another child, so much as looking out for the interests of my child, and really...when my children are the bigger ones, I will want them to 'watch out for the little guys'. As far as the snack taking goes, I would absolutely take it back. I mean, not walk up and snatch it away, but go over and ask the child to please give the snack back, and maybe even mention it to their parent. Heck, for all I know that kid has a nut allergy and the granola bar I just gave my own kid is bad news for him.

    1. Yea, I usually have a sing song voice but strong so they know I mean it.. (but yes, not mean) :)

  17. Situation #1 I would stop the older child saying something like "know what? It's not yours. You took it from the baby and that's not ok". Then I'd take it back from the child and hand it back to your son.

    Situation #2 I can see more issues with... Are you guys at a playground for 0-5 years, or 0-12 years? Trying to gauge the range of ages. Of course kids should watch out for baby, and pushing is never ok, but if you are at a playground dominated by kids 5-7-9 years old you may be asking a lot especially if baby is in the middle of a pathway. I'd correct the child saying "don't push him, he's a baby"... Firmly but not angrily, etc. if it happens again see if there's a parent around.

    I have 6 kids ages 11-1 and would hope another parent would jump in if my kid did something untoward and I didn't see it. Unfortunately I've found a lot of people just don't want to bother with discipline and appropriate behavior and they check out. We go to playgrounds early in the day and leave if one is too busy or rowdy.

  18. As a former preschool teacher and now parent of my own kindergartner,preschooler, and toddler, I treat the entire world like my classroom. If we're at a playground/playgroup and another child is misbehaving I do exactly as I would in my own classroom without missing a beat. I would not physically touch the child(unless I was taking away food he/she had snatched- you never know who has food allergies and a stolen snack could kill a child!) unless it was the child of a good friend whom I know would agree with how I handled the situation. My preschooler also has special needs and social anxiety so I need to be right there to be able to keep the playing field level, making sure that all rules apply everywhere: we don't hit/take things/use mean words at home so we don't hit/take things/use mean words at the park, etc.
    If a child snatches a toy/snack away, I would do exactly as I would my own child/class member: "Uh-oh! Sly was playing with/eating that. It's not your turn/yours. You need to give that back and wait your turn/ask your mama for your own snack!"
    If a child physically hits/pushes/kicks, etc, I would quickly address it as well: "Oh no! It's not okay to hurt our friends. That's hurts our bodies! Do you like to be hit/pushed/kicked? If you need to get through you can use kind words and say, 'Excuse me, please!'"

    99% of the time the other child will be so shocked that an adult other than their parent addressed them that they obey immediately, and a solid 80% of the time the parent pops in to commandeer their own child. I always keep my voice friendly but firm, but that's another thing learned from teaching: the art of being kid-friendly yet making sure they know I mean business. :-D

  19. I'd nicely tell the child that Sly was eating that snack but maybe if you sit nicely with him he will share it with them or help Sly up and remark that that wasn't very nice. I generally won't reprimand other people's kids except when their behavior is against my own. Then, I believe, it involves me. I try to keep it gentle but I do feel something has to be said. I used to run into similar problems on a playground. A group of kids were playing tag with my oldest (she was 5 then) and whenever she got near them, they declared they were on "base" but "base" moved to wherever they were. And when she did manage to tag them, they would literally spin around and tag her back making her "it" nonstop. I stepped in to ask the other kids just what was "base." They gave me the definition of the place where you are safe but they couldn't tell me or show me where that base was. One of their mom's noticed my conversation and corrected her kids that there was only 1 base or no base and they all had to know just what that 1 base was. I think as long as it is done in a gentle and kind manner, most parents don't mind another mom stepping in if they haven't noticed misbehavior.

    I am a Mama Bear - I may be shy by nature, but I can't not do anything when it comes to my kids. Incidentally, after repeated incidences with the kids, we found a different playgroup and have had much better experiences. :)

  20. Yea you need to say anything. I had an issue with my sister in law letter her daughter bully my son. He was under 2 and then just over 2 at the time. Well I didn't know what to do and pretty soon he decided he'd had enough and he would get mad at her. She would take something from him and he would snatch it back or he'd pick something up and throw it across the room, just his angry reaction to what was happening and not being handled by an adult. He is almost 5 now and we still have to tell him better ways to handle things. He's sooo much better now that he was but he still will get upset easily.

  21. Oh and I haven't had great reactions to other children listening to me at all. A lot of times they give a mean glare like who are you to tell me anything. So I don't know that you will have a great experience that way. I see it though as letting your child know that you are there for them. If you take back the snack from the child, give it to your son and then you gather him up and leave, it's still a good statement to him. Again Maybe because of the experience with my sister in law. I think its important for the kids to know we are there for them always. I wish I could go back and fix our problem. ;)

  22. Be kind but yes say something. Like others have said you have to stand up for Sly because he doesn't have that ability. Correcting and directing a situation can be done kindly. Just address it and if the kid starts giving you a hard time get the parent involved and if the parent gives you a hard time stand your ground politely but make it clear that the situation is not acceptable.

    I was a nanny for years. It is hard to reprimand other people's children. Good luck.

  23. I used to have the EXACT same issue! I was always afraid of "overstepping" my bounds with other kids. But after watching some of my friends handle my own kids firmly when they stepped out of line I realized 2 things. First, justice is justice. If I wouldn't let my kid do that to someone else, I'm not gonna let someone else do it to my kid (I know that sounds backward but that's how paralyzed I was by this dilemma.) Second, It can be really good for other kids to be reprimanded by another adult who is not their parent. When Sienna was little I would step in when she got out of line, totally cutting off the person who was trying to correct her in my effort to show that I was not okay with that behavior. But that was rude to the other people trying to help and only showed Sienna that my authority was the only authority she had to listen to, which is not a good message for a 2 year old. When I started letting other people handle it I was so proud and impressed by how well she responded to them. I began to see that my hard work with her was paying off. It was hard at first because I was afraid other people would think I didn't care about her bad behavior, but eventually I started adding a quiet "thank you" to the adult doing the correcting when they were finished, and they always smiled and said, "I've dealt with that exact same thing before, no worries." Last, other parents will get upset when you reprimand their kids. They just will. Not all of them, but I've had parents tell their children vocally and pointedly that they could no longer play with my kids after I reprimanded them or just flat-out tell me to keep to my own business. I always say the same thing: "I wouldn't let my kid to that to yours, so I'm not going to let your kid do that to mine." They usually get upset and walk away, but I've learned not to let it bother me. It is the job of adults to show children how to properly behave within a society, and if their parents aren't doing it and their behavior is negatively affecting your own children, or you yourself, I think you have every right and perhaps even an obligation to correct them gently but firmly.

    Also, you know, it stings seeing your own kid reprimanded by someone else, even if you know they deserve it, so I try to be extra nice to other parents when their kid does it. It isn't a personal thing, but it's hard not to take it personally.