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have you ever stepped in?

Posted by Phyllis_Philodendron (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 12, 02 at 11:20

Lately I have noticed, on two separate occasions, parents/grandparents who are extremely harsh and loud with their children in public. I.E. Last weekend my mother and I were in a shoe store and this woman was with her two girls picking out shoes. She was loud, irritated, and yelling at them, swearing (more under her breath, but intelligible). Yesterday (ironically, in another shoe store) I heard a woman say something with the word "bulls----" loud enough for many people to hear and that she was going to "knock (the girl) through the wall." When do you say something/give dirty looks/do something? I find this so disturbing and just wonder what the kids' life must be like. I wanted so badly to say to the kid when the woman turned the corner, "I'm so sorry you have to put up with that!" or something, but the woman was watching us like she expected something to happen. Have you ever said anything to someone in public?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: have you ever stepped in?

I've never said anything but I'm sure I've gotten some weird looks on my face or maybe said something loud enough to my fiance' or whoever was with me that the person heard it! LOL I also am shocked at how some people talk to their kids. I'm with my DS all day, every day and yes sometimes he drives me insane and I do get mad but it's usually at home and I just tell him I'm mad at him and why on earth would he do such a thing or treat me that way? I honestly have to yell at my fiance' for stuff he says to DS. He gets nasty and swears over stupid stuff (like he thinks' DS's little fits are big ones because he rarely sees him the way I do! LOL) but I know his mother wasn't the most pleasant person with him and his brothers and still isn't. So I try to remind him and he's getting better.

Actually, I just spent yesterday with one of my old friends and her SIL and two nephews (4 1/2 and almost 2). My friend drove me insane the way she yelled at the kids and went on about how bad they were being, when they really weren't. To her they're nagging or being a pain just when they ask a question. A few times she said she was going to smack the oldest one and other stuff over dumb things and it bothered me. He's going through a difficult stage and does get moody but the way she handles it doesn't help really. I'm hoping she either doesn't have kids or changes darastically!

Don't you feel like asking the people who carry on like that in the store why they had kids? LOL Someday I think I'll get the courage to do that.

~Leslie~


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RE: have you ever stepped in?

I've asked people if they were ok-- asking the adult, quietly but sincerely and with their attention. That gives people a chance to re-direct, and it's been effective. No matter what, if they say anything, listen quietly and do not react immediately/angrily (they really need another kind of adult role model for frustration tolerance and how to handle anger and other 'difficult' emotions). Treat them with some respect for basic human dignity.

That primarily allows the parent to redirect in a way which keeps the situation focused on the adult and their experience and behavior rather than involving the child at all. It usually has the happy side effect of changing the dynamic so that the child is able to naturally just redirect themselves as well-- on the off chance they were pushing parental buttons.

My bias is that I think it's better to figure out some way to step in (if that is desirable, or called for) that keeps the focus on the person who seems to have dangerous or out of control behavior on display-- in that moment.


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RE: have you ever stepped in?

You mean it embarrasses them, because they suddenly realize that they're in public. I can't imagine yelling at anyone, kids or adults, like that in public. Swearing loudly so everyone can hear is bad enough. Talking like that to a kid is worse.

I see it so often now and am amazed at how prevalent it is. Nobody says "when we get to the car you're ______" whatever punishment, they just duke it out right there in the store. At what point does that situation escalate into something like the mother who beat her child in the parking lot? If I saw that happening, I wouldn't hesitate to smack that woman myself - see how she likes it. If you don't step in when you see something like that happening, you could be charged with child endangerment, like the woman's sister - because you know it's happening and have done nothing to try and stop it.


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RE: have you ever stepped in?

I actually try at home never to say things that I would not dare say with someone else around. Sometimes, in the comfort of home, feelings get taken for granted. I'm sure guilty of it on really bad days, but I do try to think, is this something I would want someone to pick up on a videotape if one was in the room, and play back to me?

You're right, if they act like that *with* people around, how the heck do they act in the privacy of their own home?

No I've never said anything, but I am tempted every time I see children unbuckled in cars in Atlanta traffic, where it's only a matter of time when you will have a wreck. But I don't say anything because in this day and age, who knows how people will react? At the least, they will be defensive. At the worst, I don't want to think about it.


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RE: have you ever stepped in?

TreKaren, that reminds me of years ago when I was driving our old car with my mother. A woman just bumped my bumper and as I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw her child fly forward, unbuckled. I was more upset by that than her hitting my car. How awful.


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RE: have you ever stepped in?

People often feel there are only two possible options when feeling strongly-- fight or flight-- as if there were no other possibility. That is a very limiting and limited position and ignores other possible responses which are probably safer and more effective for everyone involved.

The point is, when feeling angry or otherwise 'wronged' or like some situation calls for some form of intervention; there are other options than ones which 'require' belitting, or otherwise causing harm to another human being. This is especially the case if there are children around who will see that kind of role modelling action between the adults.

stepping in, only to enact strategies that would be employed by a 'bigger, badder, more abusive, abusive adult' is probably not a good idea for a lot of reasons not the least of which is that it's illegal and can have grave unintended and unanticipated consequences

P.S. The problem of whether to step in and how to step in is fluid. Different situations are different by definition. Personally, I don't get to see many situations that appear out of hand-- physically, or verbally for that matter. When I have, a simple look or on occasion if the adult seems poised for untoward action (and also very stressed) addressing them personally and listening tends to work as a great defuser for them and they act and seem much less tense after even a little such basic human kindness. The perpetual unknown, as always is whether and/or how the adult in question may be armed, or unbalanced (mentally, emotionally, always, just now when under some extreme personal stress?).


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