Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Would YOU chastise someone elses child?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Would YOU chastise someone elses child?

This week for my Thursdays Thought post, I wanted to talk about something that actually happened to a friend of my sister.

This happened very local to where I now live, about a year ago, and I have to admit that for once in my life - I am torn about which side of the fence I stand on with this issue.

So What Happened?

A friend of my sisters was at a local soft play centre with her young son, who was then aged 3.

She was with a few of her Mummy friends, and was sitting having a coffee with them while her son played in the soft play area.

A few times she saw her son attacking other children - hitting out at them, and biting them. She knew he was having issues with biting and lashing out at other children, but she was enjoying chatting to her friends and decided to just occasionally tell him off from where she was sitting.

After a while, she suddenly heard her son cry out loudly and when she got to him he was crying hysterically.
There was a man in front of him, who had hold of his shoulders and was shouting at him.

My sisters friend was very upset, and grabbed her son away.

Staff came over to intervene and ask what had happened.

My sisters friend informed them that this man had attacked her son.

The man responded that her son had repeatedly hit and bitten his child, that his guardian was nowhere to be seen, and that he had asked him nicely to stop and leave his child alone on a few occasions.

He said that, when her child bit his child after numerous warnings from him, seeing no care giver in sight to resolve the issue with - he decided to discipline the child himself by grabbing him away from his own child and shouting at him.

My sister's friend was distraught and involved the police in the matter, stating that the man had launched an unprovoked attack on her child.

The man argued that she was not adequately monitoring her child and so he should not be allowed to get away with attacking other children and somebody needed to step in. He was merely protecting his own child.
Afterwards there was a lot of discussion of this incident - everybody was up in arms about the nerve of the man, everybody was disgusted that this had happened to my sisters friends poor child.

And I found myself, for once, completely unable to determine which side I was on.

From my sisters friends point of view - Yes I would be mortified if somebody took it upon themselves to discipline MY child. If anybody dared to lay a finger on him I would absolutely involve the police.
Disciplining my child is MY job to do.

But on the other hand - shouldn't I have been paying closer attention to what my child was doing? Shouldn't I have been the first to see him attack another child and be there to step in?

From the mans point of view - if another kid was repeatedly attacking my child, and I had calmly looked around but been unable to locate their parent. I had calmly asked the child to stop, and they continued to hurt my child - wouldn't my temper flare? Wouldn't I just want to STOP my own child from being hurt?

Wouldn't I possibly see red and possibly make the snap decision to give that child a good ticking off and yank him off of my own child?!

But on the other hand - shouldn't I have had the presence of mind to approach a member of staff about the situation instead? Should I just have removed my own child from the setting, even though it sort of meant punishing them for another childs behaviour?

I find it a tough one to call.

And so I wonder, where do YOU stand on this issue?

If you put yourself in the mothers shoes, AND the shoes of the father in this incident - what do you think you would do?

Is there a clear cut right or wrong here? Or are both parents equally to blame? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I find it a hard call, much as you seem too. I think if there is no other option, instead of chastising I tend more toward saying something that may led the child to seeing the infraction on their own. This works well with younger children - though I have also found at certain age they are no longer interested in finding the 'way'.

  2. Will the turn of event change if its a Mum instead of a Dad who took matters into his own hand?

    I agree with you that I should be the one disciplining my son but I do let my siblings and a few closed friends do that because I trusted them and their judgement. If it happened to me, I will remove my child and will never allow the incident to happen. Biting and hitting is No-No to us and if my son does that then he do not get to play any more.

    1. very interesting point! I wonder, had it been a woman instead of a man, would the mother still have involved the police?! x

  3. She should have been mire responsible for her son's bad behaviour. I'd have been upset and furious if a parent ignored their child hurting mine, and if need be, I would have told her son off. I think grabbing him was a step too far, but I teach young children so am good at doing the 'shocked and appalled' look and tone of voice, so wouldn't lose my temper like that.

    I don't know how she thinks it's possibly ok tosit and socialize while her son bites other children - awful!

    1. Thanks for your point of view Lisa! It's really interesting seeing everybodys thoughts :)

  4. I'm afraid I agree with the man. If you know your child is likely to bite another child and you don't keep an eye on the situation, tough luck. Why should that man have to try his child away when they are the ones behaving. If a child kept biting my son I would tell him off. Too many kids these days get away with things they shouldn't and then the parents are surprised when they are naughty.

    1. That is certainly true Susan - there does seem to be an element of kids getting away with a lot today. Years ago it was no big deal to be told off by a non-related adult and it could be argued that kids in general had more respect for their elders then? x

  5. Oh I'm so annoyed, I typed out a big reply to this and lost it. But anyway, if it was my child I'd be pretty cross if someone told my child off. But I'd feel embarrassed to. That said. If a child was hurting my child in softplay, which has happened, and I couldn't see an adult dealing with it, I'd probably go postal. I think once is bad enough, more than one is just negligent on the part of the parent. I'm with the father, I think he did well, I'd have totally lost it I'm sure. I actually think its terrible parenting on the part of the mother. If you KNOW your child is prone to this sort of thing then it is your absolute responsibility to oversee your child and ensure they are not hurting other children. And I speak from experience. My youngest went through a period of biting, and to be honest we avoided soft play because it was so stressful and I couldn't manage her behaviour well enough when she was in there. Once the phase passed we were back to it. I honestly don't think this is a debate at all, the mother who sat drinking with her friends was irresponsible and the father quite correct to protect his own child once he realised that there was no responsible adult manageing this child.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Charlotte! What's interesting is that there have actually been charges taken further against the father in the situation - so it seems the law is on the side of the mother! x

    2. My god, that poor poor man, I'm actually disgusted!

  6. I'm sorry but I have to say that your sister's friend was in the wrong. I would have been furious if another child had been permanently biting Ava with the so called responsible adult no where to be found. It makes my blood boil just thinking about it. Surely if she knew it was a problem she should have been supervising him. If she wanted to have a coffee with her friends a soft play area isn't the place to do so, it isn't a creche.

    I would have been mortified if someone else was to tell Ava off instead of me but I think calling the police is a bit far fetched as far as I can tell he didn't "attack" her child, merely told him off, something she should have done herself. Her child is her responsibility I'm afraid.x

    1. Thanks for your point of view Harriet! I tend to lean toward agreeing (though I'm trying to keep my opinion out of it to get a clear idea of what others think) but what interested me is that their have been charges taken further against the man, so it seems in the eyes of the law he was in the wrong!? x

    2. Oh my! That's awful! Poor man. I think the law in this country is seriously twisted at times!x

  7. This is really tricky. But to me, at these types of places you should have your eye on your child. Especially if they're going through a 'biting' phase. My son pushed a child at mother & toddler group the other week and I was mortified. Instantly rushed over and told him off and urged him to apologise to the child whilst I frantically aplogised to the child's mum.
    I think it's awful when parents completely brush over their child being a little shit (sorry).
    But on the other hand, grabbing the child was a step too far. You have to control your temper when it comes to kids, no matter how naughty they're being. The man, however, was well within his rights to intervene as seing your child getting hurt is just horrible! It's just a shame he took it that one step too far. Getting the police involved seems quite far fetched. I feel really sorry for him x

  8. I'd be the same as both people are kind of in the right

  9. This is awful! If someone did this to Sienna I would kill them! I would maybe say something to the child if they were hurting Sienna but I wouldn't touch them

    Kerry @ Lived With Love! | Mummy, Beauty & Lifestyle blog

  10. I don't agree with the man touching her child. If a child was biting his child he should have done what he did with asking him not to do that, or saying "Come on no biting!" if this child carried on then he should have removed HIS OWN child from the situation instead of touching the other child. I can respect why your friend got so upset about that.
    A complete stranger touching her child. BIG NO!

    He should have removed his child from the situation, then notified staff about the biting child if he couldn't find the person who was responsible for him. He definitely shouldn't have touched the other child.

    BUT I do think that the mother should have kept an eye on her child more ESPECIALLY if she knew he was going through a biting phase. Whilst I respect mothers sometimes need time out to catch up with friends, if you know you're child is going through a vampire stage, and she'd already had to tell him off a few times during that time there, then she should have removed him from the group OR been watching him constantly as that's just unfair on the other kids in there - and of course other parents aren't going to just stand there and let their children be bit.

    My friends little'n was at a play group with my friend, he had never bitten anyone in his life. Whilst she was talking to one of the other mums she heard this cry, looked over and saw that her son had just bitten another child. She was mortified. He's not done it since (he's just coming up to 2) but whenever they go play groups she watches him closely because she said she felt so bad and like I said mortified.
    I'd do the same, it's unfair to deprive your child of social situations, but if they're little vampires - keep an eye on them, don't do the half hearted telling off whilst catching up with friends.

    So whilst I think the kids dad went about it the wrong way by touching the child, I do think your friend definitely needs to keep an eye on baby vampire until it grows out of that - because in the same situation reversed - she wouldn't like her little'n being bitten.

  11. The man shouldn't have taken it upon himself to discipline someone else's kid. But the mum should have paid more attention to her kid! x

  12. You're absolutely right, this really is a very difficult situation. I do think that the child's Mother was being incredibly lazy by sitting down and chatting to her friends if she knew that her son was hurting other children. Aside from all the other issues, this will hardly teach him that what he's doing is wrong.

    But then I don't think the father of the other chid has the right to physically shake anyone. That is definitely over stepping the mark. Tell him off: yes. Raise your voice: fine. But touch? Shake? No.

    I have been known to stand in a play area and very loudly ask who is responsible for an unsupervised child that repeatedly bullied my daughter. Even when I moved her to a different area he followed, so I took it upon myself to seek out the adult with him (turned out to be a childminder) and ask her to keep him away from my Daughter or I'd have them removed. Yes she have me an earful in return, I'd probably do the same, but NO ONE hurts my child. No one.

    It still makes me angry to this day!!

    Kate x
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

  13. If Ethan was being hurt and the child wouldn't stop, I'd pull Ethan away and then inform a member of staff. I think that calling the police was way over the top. She should have been monitoring her child imo. xx

  14. I agree with Alex.

    Yes, it's nice to relax and have a coffee with friends but I honestly believe that it's up to you to watch your child and make sure they're playing nicely.

    I had issues at school with Stacey last year where she came home and admitted to being nasty to a friend of hers. Next day I marched her over to the girls mum in front of the whole class and she apologized. Unfortunately the mum started a vendetta against us anyway but at least I knew we'd done the right thing.

    Stacey was then bullied for a while over the whole incident and school did nothing about it but hey, I knew they wouldn't!

    It's so difficult to be a great parent these days and yes, we all make mistakes. But I still think your sisters friend shouldn't have phoned the police and instead took responsibility for her sons actions.

    Louise xxx

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

  15. I think maybe he handled it wrong, he shouldn't have shouted at the child but if someone if hurt my child I would remove them but she really should be watching her child. I hate when I go to baby groups and the mums are to interested in chatting then parenting.

  16. I personally would have informed a member of staff of the situation. I don't think I have it in me to chastise another persons child because it can actually be quite traumatising for a child to be shouted at, let alone grabbed, by a stranger.

    That said if my son hit or bit another child I would be MORTIFIED! My son is 3 and I would have removed him for 5 minutes and made him sit with me and my friends, then I would have allowed him to go play - if he did it again I would leave with him.

    When my son has accidently knocked into another child or accidently hurt them slightly I always make a point of walking him over to the child and apologising.


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