I Yelled at Your Kid On The Playground. And I’m Not Sorry.

image Okay, I should start by telling you I didn’t actually YELL at the kid, but I did scold, and I did stop him from pushing Bugaboo.  And the mom was Furious (with a capital F). And I don’t care because I would do it again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There was a bully on the playground.  Every time Bug (or any other kid) sat down on the slide, he would run up behind and push as hard as he could.  Sometimes Bug wasn’t sitting all the way down.  Once she almost fell off the side.

She told him to stop, nicely.  Then not so nicely.  Then really meanly.  But he didn’t stop.

I looked around to try to spot his parent.  I couldn’t.

It got so bad another mom finally took her kids and left.  But I didn’t want to leave;  I wanted my kids to play, and I didn’t want them to be afraid.

I told him to stop pushing.  I told him it wasn’t safe.

He laughed at me and ran away.

At last I climbed the stairs to the slides; surely, I thought, he would leave her alone if I was there.  As I helped Bug sit down the kid ran past and tried to duck between us to push her.

That was the final straw.

I caught his wrist just before he shoved her.  I told him he wasn’t playing safe, and if he wouldn’t stop he couldn’t play up there anymore.

Suddenly, finally, his mom appeared.  She jammed her phone into her pocket and ran at me, screaming  to never touch her son again.  I calmly explained the situation.  She, not so calmly, explained she wasn’t some “damn helicopter parent” and she wanted him to “fight his own battles” without her.  She then told me exactly what she’d do to me if I ever so much as looked at her or her son again.

I didn’t want to get in to a screaming match, or worse,  so we left.

But I don’t regret what I did.

I’m not a helicopter parent; I consider myself more of an armed spy drone:  always watching and ready to fire if the situation gets to be more than my kids can handle themselves.

I gave the kids a chance to work it out.  I gave the other mom time to get involved.  When they didn’t, when she didn’t, I stepped in.  I decided (I will always decide) the safety of my kids, of her kid, was more important than the politically correct “rule” to not discipline other people’s children.

But not everyone agrees.

I’ve told this story a number of times, and I’ve gotten a range of responses.  Some parents applaud me, “Way to go,” they say, “You have to protect your own kids!”

But some, more than I would have guessed, listen to the story, shift uneasily, and awkwardly say, “Well, what did you expect; you DID put your hands on her kid…”

“Yes, but only to stop him.  I didn’t hold him or hurt him.  What was I supposed to do?” I defend.  And they don’t seem to know, but they do agree they would have reacted to me the same because, “No one has the right to correct my kid but me.”

And I have to disagree.

I’m imperfect.  I get distracted.  I’m not always paying attention.  I can’t see everything.  I want to believe, as parents, we are bonded, we are a village, even if we don’t know each other.

If my kid is acting the fool, if she’s being unsafe, if he’s being mean, if they are breaking rules, and I, for whatever reason, am not aware enough to stop them– I want someone too.  I don’t want them to be treated harshly, but I do want them to be corrected.

But maybe I’m wrong?

What do you think?  I’d really love to know, so weigh-in in the comments section below– just remember to use your manners 😉

Cheers, Natalie

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Some People’s Kids


Talking Children = Liability

18 thoughts on “I Yelled at Your Kid On The Playground. And I’m Not Sorry.

  1. Sonja says:

    Laying your hands on someone else child is asking for trouble. If you have an issue go to the parent of the child or go the staff if your at some place. You have to remember your an adult and stranger to this child. Not the child’s parent who should be disciplining. I’ve been there and sometimes as parents we have to take the higher road when it involves another persons child. You wouldn’t like your child being grab by a stranger and neither would your child.

    • momupsidedown5 says:

      I actually disagree. I don’t want my child grabbed by a stranger, but if I’m not around (like this child’s parents), and my child is hurting another child (like this one was), I would not mind if another parent stopped my child. I did not harm this child. I did not grab this child. But I did stop him from hurting my child. I tried several times to speak to the child, it happened I a split second, and the results, had I not stopped him, could have resulted in one or both children being injured (we were at the top of a play structure.

  2. TH says:

    I just had an incident tonight that is a little different. Thoughts? My 5 year old was playing with the bigger kids on a glider contraption where you hold the handle and zip across to another platform. The other kids were 6 through 9 or so. They were all having fun. many of them were helping others by giving them a push to help them go faster or go across when they got stuck, or do a couple laps back and forth with a push. My 5 year old thought this was a lot of fun.

    She started helping others too. Then a 6 yr old boy was on the thing, and she tried to help him too. He asked her to stop… apparently 4x or so. Now they were about 2 feet off the ground and the expectation if you can’t hold on is to drop to the ground… no real risk at all. I didn’t notice the interaction at first.

    My expectation of another parent would be to break up an interaction, and remove their kid from the “risk/danger” as all the other kids playing were being a bit on the rough side and their kid basically was not ready for the rough play with the others on this apparatus, and there were plenty other options in the park including another glider with a more calm participation.

    She did apparently separate them. Then she continued after they were separated to lord over my 5 year old and yell at her and put her down until she left the park crying.

    I understand getting between kids when danger is at hand. I understand if a well known bully is picking on others. However, after the kids are separated, and all is SAFE, I feel you are now hands off the other kid. Yours is safe. Sticking around to tear into the little girl you don’t know (complete stranger) to scare the shit out of her with yelling and intimidation is completely out of line. Especially since I was actually about 15 feet away. The incident happened in all of 10 seconds and the yelling lasted for 30 with me standing right behind the woman listening to her the entire time. I was a bit stunned. She never even attempted to figure out if there was a parent around and tore into my girl right away.

    Protect your own kid. Make sure they are safe. Intimidation of another kid, that you have never seen before, you as a complete stranger, is completely out of line. I don’t want any stranger talking with my kid, kindly or otherwise, without my consent thanks. That’s my job. Call me to task if you want. But after your kid is considered safe, back away.

    I am steaming right now and will feel a little calmer in a bit, but I kind of feel she is lucky to have all her teeth at the moment.


    • momupsidedown5 says:

      I totally agree. If my kid is acting like a jerk I have NO issue with someone else telling them to quit, but I would NEVER be okay with them berating my child (nor did I berate the child in this story). I’m sorry that happened to you kiddo! And bravo on your restraint! 😉

  3. andthreetogo says:

    Kids are kids and are going to mess up occasionally… heck so are adults. What matters is that the bad behavior is dealt with in a timely manner. If I cannot get to my daughter quick enough to stop her from hurting another child, I hope that another adult could do so in a kind and productive way. Same goes for if a kid is doing something harmful to my daughter, I will say something if necessary.
    I appreciate the help from other parents, if it is done in a kind and loving way. 🙂

  4. mrumpz says:

    Been there, done that. Will probably do it again. Way to go! Sometimes you just have to intervene. As a parent, I would appreciate it if another parent stepped in if my child was behaving like a little monster. No child is perfect and it serves as a learning experience.

  5. Jenn says:

    way to go! I would have done exactly the same thing. Parents are responsible for their kids’ actions, period. When they are not paying attention it’s up to the other parents.

  6. Marilyn says:

    I think it’s amazing that parenting, or rather discipline, has fallen apart. What I mean is that discipline seems optional and a lack of discipline seems to be the norm. When I was a kid, we were all expected to behave like ladies and gentlemen and we were reprimanded if we didn’t. Today, kids are rewarded for acting like they are supposed to with no consequences if they misbehave. This other mom, knows she’s a hands off, non-engaged mom and didn’t like the fact that your actions basically called her out. She wasn’t defending her child, she was defending herself. You cannot control other people’s actions but you can control your own. Keep being a good parent…you’ll have a fabulous teenager one day. This other lady, conversely, will have a ton of issues once her child grows older.

  7. Sensitive and Extraordinary Kids says:

    You didn’t do anything wrong. Like you said, it takes a village, and you are in this kid’s village. You didn’t yell at him or hit him, you were stopping him from deliberately hurting your child. It’s fine that the mom was distracted and didn’t notice, it happens to the best of us. What is not fine is the way she reacted.

  8. Megan says:

    My first reaction is extreme frustration that the other mother was there to step in when her son’s bad behaviour was stopped by someone else, but she wasn’t there to correct his bad behaviour before this point. It is just sad that some parents will not hold their children accountable. As a teacher I have seen the shift from parents making sure their children respect others, to defending their children’s actions at all costs.

    My second reaction is sadness. It isn’t right that instead of calling this parent to account, people were leaving the park. I think you did the best thing you could in this situation. Sometimes being politically correct allows others to keep being jerks.

  9. micah berendonk says:

    I’m gonna say the same thing my mom told me when I became a mom…. “If you don’t want someone else discipling your kid, then get there first.” Now at the time she was referring to herself correcting Chain, but I truly believe that this applies in all situations. No kid has thhe right to put their hands on any other kid and if someone doesn’t want you making sure they stop theoir kid then they should teach them some decency and manners. No, she certainly wasn’t a helicopter mom, she was a self absorbed woman who is lazy and relies on someoone elses decency not to say something to her brat, let alone make them stop. I see all sorts of lazy parents today that don’t feel like taking the steps and measures because disicpline is hard, but its worth it. So, no, don’t you ever dare be sorry for showing your daughter or son that after they have tried to make someone else stop putting their hands on them that their mother will always be there to stand up for them.

  10. Beth says:

    I think you did the right thing Natalie. The safety of the other kids is important, though I also think the bullying child was looking for boundaries (and attention) as well. That the aggressive behavior continued to the extent that the aggressor tried to get between you and your child suggests to me a significant and probably entrenched behavioral problem. I’m guessing the other mom is either often distracted/unengaged-hence the attention seeking behavior, or is exhausted and at wits end about what to do with the problem behavior and so took him to the park for space and a break and was shocked and embarrassed by being “checked” herself by another parent.

    This situation reflects a common assumption that children are the possession of their parents (similar to wives being chattel). In fact, kids don’t belong to us. We create them, love them, teach them and release them to the world and hold our breath as we wait to see how the grand plan plays out. We are responsible for them but that is quite different from “owning” them.

    We are all on this fragile ship together. That means we correct each other’s children when necessary, admire and complement other families, ask about guns in the home, answer truthfully and calmly when asked about guns in our home, or give a break, a sandwich or a smile to someone who needs it. After all, isn’t that the way we want our children to behave?

    Thanks for caring about the other kid enough to set healthy limits for him. It was the right thing to do, all the way around.

  11. Bev Johnson says:

    As a preschool teacher for many years I would agree with your decision. I would bet that the mom might have been embarrassed and then over reacted but again times have changed and a lot of parents do not discipline.

  12. Megan says:

    I agree with your response and would have done the same. You tried methods that did not involve disciplining the child and they didn’t work. Others will intervene and discipline in life if needed, like at school. They will avoid contact, but if someone else’s safety is at risk they will hold the child back. They were touching your child in an unsafe way. You were just preventing it.

  13. val says:

    I’ve been at the playground finding myself lightly suggesting to kids that it’s not nice to shove or to take turns. I can agree with both sides though. I wouldn’t and don’t agree with putting your hands on a strangers child. The world we live in now doesn’t allow for any understanding on that. That being said, I would be protecting my child and if that meant pulling my child out of the way and the other child takes a tumble, well than that’s the consequence for continuing behavior that an adult told you was unsafe. I don’t agree with taking kids to the playground and checking out on your phone either though. I’m always aware of the location of my child and if my kid’s being a jerk then I step in. The park is for fun, not prison rules where parent’s don’t intervene unless there’s blood.

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