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Telling off someone else's child

Wednesday, 14 November 2018  |  Admin

Telling off someone else’s child



I will set the scene, you are absent mildly in soft play enjoying the first sit down of the morning and a hot coffee.

You hear a scream and someone getting told off, you look up to find someone else that you don’t know telling of your child, what do you do?

What per se is the etiquette for telling someone else’s child off is, or is it completely unfathomable, it is down to the child’s parent and them alone?

Would you go in all guns blazing, I mean how dare someone tell your child off or does it depend on the situation?

What if it comes to light happens if your child was hurting another, or putting themselves and others in danger?

We all know in that kind of environment when your child has run off and is in the bowels of soft play it can be hard to keep track unless you are right there with them going through the giant mangle and risking putting your back out.


I’ve been in a couple of situations where I have witnessed something along these lines and I must admit it has made me question how I would react.

The idea of someone I don’t know telling of my child does make me feel uncomfortable.

I believe really we are responsible for our small humans, and it is down to the parents of a child to address a problem or correct an issue should it arrive.

But, if for example Elijah had hit out at someone and was carrying on doing so and that person was stopping them, then I feel as though perhaps this is justified.

Anything other than stopping the action is however, I believe then my issue to deal with.

If you were at the park and there was a child hitting yours, would you go over and say stop?


Chances are you would, but then what is the etiquette of what happens next?

Would you look for their parent to explain the situation and leave them to deal with it? That’s what I would hope someone would do if my child was the perpetrator!

I do not believe it is anyone’s else’s place to correct the behaviour of my child other than mine if I am present.

If someone was hurting my child, I would stop them, at the end of the day I will not allow my child to be hurt because I am scared that the child’s parent may react badly to be saying ‘stop’ to their child.

Generational difference

Because of the culture we now live in and in a lot of respects it is justified that when we are in a public setting with a children, if a child is hurt we would have in previous generations such as my nan’s gone over to pick them up, to comfort them we no longer do so.

A child is crying, you want to help, but you also feel as though there is also some un spoken restriction to do so and instead you will find each parent nearby frantically searching for the child’s parent to come and get them.

We have all heard an off the cuff comment from a grandparent in how they would deal with a child’s outburst and the likelihood is that they would have had no qualms telling another child off.

Recently, I attended a party where one child hit another and made them cry, the parent of the child who was crying went over and said to he child ‘NO, we do not hit others’, nearby I glanced over to see the father of the child who hit, witness the other parent tell his off.

The father seemed upset that someone told his child off but rather perplexingly neither parent moved to speak to one another, to resolve the situation.

It struck me as odd, and it left me thinking about this all afternoon.


I did what I always do when I am conflicted and I went to my most trusted sources; Greg and a fellow mum.

It seems the consensus is, that generally you would feel comfortable if the person telling your child off was known to you, and that they came to you to explain the situation, but when it was a stranger the lines were murkier.

I have close friends, and I have had to at times looked after their children and there may have been a  time I have had to say no to stop them from doing something, or normally it is to break apart the boys who are wrestling again but it never goes ant further than stopping the act, and then telling my friend exactly what happened and what I said.

I don’t believe it is my place to reprimand another person’s child and we also may have completely differing parenting views.

I am very strongly against rough play and fighting and would stop this and remind my boys to be kind etc, whereas others believe it is normal behaviour.


We put our trust in many people, grandparents, nursery caregivers and friends when they are looking after our children to do what we would believe the right thing to be when it comes to correcting the behaviour of our children should they require it.

But, we know them, they know us, and the bond of trust is there, we don’t have this with a stranger so is this why we feel uncomfortable because we don’t know them?

We all parent differently, but when we are in a public setting is it that unthinkable to think that a fellow parent has the best interests of the children at heart?

Sometimes I think it can be what follows an ‘incident’ that can also be a topic of controversy.

Witch Hunt

I was in soft play (once again, I swear these things only happen when I am there) and a child was hurt by another. The child’s father there almost started a witch hunt of who the child’s parents was as if he was expecting some sort of resolution from the way they discipline their child.

He got very agitated in front of many children and waited to basically see what would happy to the child as if it was some kind of judicial outcome when really for me, explaining to the fellow parent what happened, and seeing them talk to their child is enough, the rest is completely down to them.

We have all been in the situation where we have had to reprimand our children and get them to say sorry (well we have for them) and spoken to them about their behaviour and it can lead to feelings of frustration and embarrassment for all and in the moment it can be hard to forget they are learning and finding their way in the world and there many come a time that someone has to tell them to not do something.

But the question remains, how would you feel if someone else told your child off?

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog, founded and runs The NICU Parent Partnership Organisation and co-hosts @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club.You can contact her via her blog or social media;

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