When to Step in

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about disciplining other people’s kids.


I mean I’ve always had the no stance, I want nothing but secret chocolates and snuggles with my friends kids… Not only because (and I can admit) them liking me is important for my self-worth, but also because I know how important a relationship with me is to them.

You see Maggie Dent (the only parenting expert I ever turn to in times of need), has a beautiful theory called the Lighthouse Theory. Sometimes kids, teenagers in particular can’t be reached by their own parents. So in a crisis they tend to turn to a lighthouse, aunty or a friend of their parents that is easy to talk to.

I get that because I was the same, I would cringe at the idea of talking to my mum about some boyfriend or vagina problem. But I’d openly chat for hours to my aunties or friends parents. It’s just easier sometimes. So I want to be there for my friends’ kids in that way and I want my friends to be there for my kids, the older I get the more pride I swallow and the more I realise that it’s not just me who is raising these kids, it really does take a village.

So when it’s my friend’s kids turn to be a dick I step aside, sometimes even high five the little shit as my mates role their eyes at me, I can’t help it. I have a soft spot for the naughty ones.

However a few months ago I was at the park with Arlo and his mate and a little girl who couldn’t have been older than 4 was demolishing the playground. She was kicking kids off the slides and charging around the platforms like some sort of little lord.

It was actually hilarious- I have never seen such a tiny girl cause so much havoc.

Arlo is not a dobber, he is a law of the jungle kind of kid. He never hurts anyone, it’s kind of hard to hurt him (unless you stub his toe) so it’s really unusual for him to interrupt me to dob on a little girl, he came over to me to tell me that a little girl had kicked him. I did my usual energy-conserving mum-of-4 parenting and told him to just play somewhere else. 5 minutes later he came over to me in tears and told me that she had thrown sand in his eyes and as he said it his mate came running over crying his eyes out too, she had slapped him. Great… I obviously have to get off my arse and intervene.

I looked around for her mum, it was a very busy day, one of those sunny winter days where everyone capitalises and picnics the fuck out of every park. The kid’s mum was probably hiding somewhere with a bottle of Gin enjoying the peace.

I had no choice.

Little Miss Playground Queen was now reigning everything. Stomping, throwing things, I think she was even singing Christina Aguilera’s Fighter as she ruled the see-saw, loving herself sick.

I walked towards her, she had a short curly bob, it was perfect. She glared at me as moved in closer. I know what she was thinking, “hmmmm, who’s this bitch getting up in my grill… killing my vibe.. who dares..”

“Hi sweetie, do you think that you could chill on the kicking and sand throwing? My kids are all a bit sad coz they really wanted to play up here with you.”

Her eyes narrowed, She responded with a poised statement. “Fine… the boys can play there,” and she pointed to a tiny patch of mud.

The boys were happy with that and I felt like the negotiator of the year.

And that was kind of that. I was starting to think that stepping in is the new me.

However a couple of weeks ago my Billie-Violet was having a really hard time, she was struggling with some of her friends. She had been in trouble with Bill for not cleaning her room and answering back and I had walked in on her in her bedroom crying to a photo of my dad, her passed away poppy. It wasn’t the “look at me, I’m crying to get out of trouble” kind of cry either, and trust me I have seen that. But she was struggling.

So I grabbed her bike and took her to the park. She merrily rode around getting a bit of colour in her soul again when a little toddler walked in front of her bike- and she knocked him over.

She was mortified, the toddler was fine he ran off giggling, thankfully toddlers are made of rubber but his dad stormed over to her and yelled, “You’re a stupid little girl, you shouldn’t be riding around here!”

Maybe it was a little close to the play equipment, but fuck me he was such a bully.
My blood boiled. Fierce warrior mum kicked in. I gave him a mouthful about yelling at kids you don’t know. Billie-Violet buried her head into me crying, yet grateful that I had her back.

Still, no winners.

I realised that day my main gripe with disciplining kids who aren’t yours is that you don’t know their story. You don’t know if this is something they do all the time or something that was a pure accident. You don’t know if that little girl has spent the day crying for her dead Poppy, or if she purposely hits toddlers in parks on her bike every weekend.

You just don’t know.

Obviously, there isn’t a cut and dry answer. When someone is hurting your kid it doesn’t matter who, a child or a grown man, the first thing you need to do is stop that shit..

Now it isn’t a do or don’t type of conversation, everyone handles situations differently. But I do know that the words that come out of adults who aren’t your parents cut children a lot deeper than those of your own folks. So for me?

Going to extreme measures to sort it out with the kids parents before even thinking of approaching the kid is the only way.

I’ll stick to being a lighthouse for other children, someone that hopefully one day they can approach if they ever need anything and I’ll leave the hard arse shit to the mums and dads.

Love Con xxx

  1. Profile photo of Scattered Mama
    Scattered Mama 5 months ago

    This can be such a struggle! But I ditto what you said:
    “Going to extreme measures to sort it out with the kids parents before even thinking of approaching the kid is the only way.”

  2. Profile photo of Jo
    Jo 5 months ago

    What would you do if your “friends” try to discipline your child in front of you… (When you are already doing it or thinking of the way to do it…). It happens all the time…

  3. Profile photo of Julia
    Julia 5 months ago

    I struggle with my partner’s family who are very much ‘we are family so we can do what we like’. My family don’t unless I’m not right there and then they generally let us do it anyway. We don’t see a lot of them so I’d rather it be a nice time for my kids. And they would not handle it if I was to discipline their children-I think that is what gets me the most. I am very much just the partner and not really family. 5.5 years on! At the end of they day we all have our own way of disciplining our children and we should all respect each other’s way!

  4. Profile photo of Naomi Buffery
    Naomi Buffery 5 months ago

    This is something that I really struggled with. It used to send me into a frenzy of anxiety, the thought of taking my son somewhere, another kid upsetting him and that kids Mum not being around to sort it. But a very wise person taught me a great technique for dealing with this. She taught me about modelling behaviour. So, now when I’m in this situation, I will behave how I want my son to behave. If they are fighting over a toy, I will go and teach them how to take turns. If somebody won’t let him play, I will go and play with them and get everyone involved in a game. If somebody has hit him, I will give my son a cuddle and tell them that hands are only for cuddles and tickles and tickle everyone. It’s working for me at that moment and it helps curb my anger when somebody else has upset my child. At the end of the day, they are all still learning. And my son is no angel either, so I hope other parents treat him with the same respect I treat other peoples kids.

  5. Profile photo of Alex
    Alex 5 months ago

    I think it can be a positive thing when other parents discipline children. I want my children to know that I am not the only person they have to listen to. If they are messing up, it effects other people, and they are going to notice. I also want my kids to learn how to deal with situations on their own. They can’t run to me every time someone hassles them, expecting me to fix it. In life you answer to a lot of different people, for a lot of different things. The play ground is a great place to start teaching those connections.

  6. Profile photo of WimpyWoman
    WimpyWoman 5 months ago

    I agree, if another parent corrects my child it can be helpful to me as a parent, because it makes my children aware of other people and how their behaviour affects the people around me. Sometimes they listen more to other people

  7. Profile photo of Nanou
    Nanou 4 months ago

    I agree with Constance it’s not cut and dried but I am old and can look back on the dilemmas I had with other people’s children. I had a friend going through a terrible time with her man just taking off and leaving her and the kids suffering so. Her little girl was so miserable and angry and she bit my toddler on the cheek. Drew blood in each tooth mark. I remember so well holding a cold pack on my boys bleeding cheek and holding her as she struggled and screamed. I looked her in the eye and said I know you are angry but hurting someone else won’t help one bit. She was like a little fury so I did something that surprised me I put her in the bathroom and closed the door. I calmed the rest of the children and settled them then sat on the floor of the bathroom and held my arms out to her. She sobbed and sobbed and eventually fell asleep. I was a lighthouse to her as a teen and at her 21st she thanked me for being there for her. Sometimes children have to deal with stuff that is just torture to them. It might be big or seemingly tiny like missing out on a turn or losing something BUT they need adults to say enough us enough. Constance you are so on the right track with being a role model either standing up for your kids or negotiating a solution. Brilliant parenting in my book.

  8. Profile photo of Kayleigh Ho
    Kayleigh Ho 4 months ago

    As a teacher I cannot sit back if my son is hurt by another child. Twice I’ve gone into full teacher mode in the middle of a playgym telling some little shit to stop beating the crap out of my son. The other parents look at me like I’ve gone mad! I’m like what? It’s quite amusing really but as I regularly discipline 28 kids on a daily basis, 1 more isn’t really an issue. I don’t bully or shout at them…I just unleash mama bear crossed with full on teacher mode haha!

  9. Profile photo of Lorna Hendry
    Lorna Hendry 4 months ago

    Constance what’s your take on these spell doctors? me a bit skeptical…don’t know
    Hugz Lorna

  10. Profile photo of Abi wylie
    Abi wylie 3 months ago

    Enough with the spell casting bots already! 😡
    If I’m at a public place and another kid hurts or upsets my child I will speak to the child in questions parent/guardian. Some parents really get pissy if you speak to their child, even when you’re sickly sweet to the little shits!! Usually the parent is horrified and very apologetic, but you also get the type that sees their kid as nothing but an angel and can do no wrong. It’s tough to judge but a queen has to protect her little princess or princes!!

  11. Profile photo of Katrina ~ They All Call Me Mom .com

    You are so wise, and funny as all hell. So glad I found your blog 🙂

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