#WWYD Would you tell someone else’s child off?

#WWYD Would you tell someone else’s child off?

So a few weeks back I caught myself amongst an interesting predicament. I was at my daughters swimming lesson and there was a particularly disruptive child that day. He wouldn’t listen, he kept endargering himself  and he was distracting and splashing others. My girl who normally sits quiet as a mouse started to follow suit even.

I felt for the swimming teacher that day as it was a hard situation to handle.

Five 3-4 year olds all pissing about in water unable to swim.

The child in question then started to repeatedly splash one of the girls. It wasn’t malicious and I am sure he wasn’t trying to be spiteful he was just being a three year old enjoying himself. That said being splashed in the face is annoying. Disrupting a swimming lesson is irritating for everyone and it was hard for the teacher to keep a handle on things whilst she was taking another three year old round the pool.

The child’s mum wasn’t sat poolside, unfortunately. She was within watching distance, just not speaking distance.

So the parent of the child being splashed took it upon herself to ‘tell off’ the disruptive child. Quite sternly, in my humble opinion.

At the end of the lesson the parent of the ‘told off’ child was quite upset and the swimming instructor found herself caught between two parents each with their own point of view.

Valid points perhaps.

See the parent who’s little girl was being splashed sat and watched it for quite some time before interjecting. The ‘disruptive’ child had been so for all of the lesson and had made the lesson difficult for all the children. His mum wasn’t there to tell him otherwise.

But, the parent of the child who was ‘told off’ was unhappy with the way in which someone else spoke to her child. I can understand that too.

It’s not an uncommon situation. I mean we’ve all been at soft play or a playgroup when someone else’s child has been a little heavy handed with our own.

I have been sat with my son at soft play before when an older (but still young) boy started hitting my child repeatedly on the head. Forcefully. His mum wasn’t there and in all honesty I felt I had no choice but to tell him stop. I didn’t shout or rant and rave but I did tell him ‘not to do that’ anymore. I mean is that crossing the line?

Where is the line?

If a child is misbehaving or worse, putting themselves or other children at risk what do you do? What is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to discipling other peoples’ children?

I know I wouldn’t like a stranger to discipline my child, especially not in a way that I wouldn’t myself. Yet equally I wouldn’t expect my child to ‘get away’ with something that is inherently ‘naughty’ or dangerous. I am not sure where the line is. Perhaps it is situation dependant? Or child dependent? I don’t know.

On the same note it would make me really uncomfortable to discipline someone else’s child. It is not my place. We all have different ‘standards’ for want of a better word, different methods, different motives, our children are all different and what works for one might not for another. It’s a minefield and complicated at best.

What would you do? Would you tell off someone else’s child? Have you? Has someone told off your child and how did it make you feel? I’d really love to hear from you.

#whatwouldyoudo? Would you tell off someone else's child? Where is the line in disciplining someone else's children? What is acceptable and what is not acceptable? Here's my thoughts.



  1. November 27, 2017 / 6:58 am

    It’s a tricky one. I’d normally try to stay out of any conflict with someone else’s child, but if they were doing something that was likely to hurt themselves or others, I’d say something even if I risked angering their parent. I probably wouldn’t tell them off just being loud/naughty, though. #familyfun

  2. November 27, 2017 / 9:19 am

    I think it’s such a difficult situation to be here. I’ve told off a family member’s child before, but haven’t yet been in a situation where I’ve had to tell a stranger’s child off. I don’t think I know what I’d do until I was in that situation, but I think if it was an option I’d remove my child from the situation and walk away #FamilyFunLinky

  3. November 27, 2017 / 10:23 am

    This is a really hard one. I would only probably say something if the child was hurting or putting others in danger, and then only if the child’s parents were not around. I think I would still feel uneasy about it, but you cannot let a child be hurt and not say anything.

  4. November 27, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    It’s a tricky situation and if push came to shove my mummy would tell off someone elses child especially if it was dangerous behaviour. Firmly but not overly sternly. #FamilyFunLinky

  5. November 27, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    It is a tricky situation but perhaps if she was close enough to be offended by her child being told off, she was close enough to try and then intervene herself by moving towards her own child? Hard one as we don’t know, but swimming pools can be dangerous with non swimmers #familyfunlinky

  6. November 27, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    I have been in a few situations like this and it still happens every now and then. Ideally, I don’t like to correct someone else’s child. I won’t even correct a family member’s child unless I absolutely had to. I do think it is dependent upon the situation at hand. My boys are older and my youngest is in the 5th grade (I know the UK doesn’t use that term so he’s 10 years old, if that helps at all with his grade level) and I’ve had to intervene several times with bullying incidents. That’s not a fun position to be in but my thought process is if the mom in your swim group was watching then she should have intervened. It’s not nice to allow your child to splash other people’s children. Not everyone likes being splashed and its a matter of respect for others and teaching respect to your child has to start at a young age. Not to mention the fact that these young ones are just starting to learn to swim so by her not intervening with her own child, that puts other children in danger. So, it’s both logical and practical to intervene. But again, there are situations where intervening isn’t always necessary. #FamilyFunLinky

  7. November 27, 2017 / 6:49 pm

    ‘It takes a village” a phrase I love. I would never jump in to tell another parents child off but I would intervene if the child’s behaviour was effecting my child or another. I would expect another adult to do the same to my child in return. I see this all the time as a teacher. At school social functions, parents seem to think I am in charge of their children but they are. This makes it very tricky when their child is climbing all over the stage or doing something that they would never be allowed to do in school. I think children need to be told if their behaviour is hurtful or dangerous whether they are my child or not! If other parents don’t like it, then they should look out for their children better. The Parent of the splasher in your story was wrong in my opinion. She was blaming the teacher when she should have apologised for not watching her child properly! Teaching swimming too! That could have been dangerous or put the other children off swimming forever. I don’t get this blame culture at all; let’s all help each other by looking out for all children. I would only be kind though. I would never shout at any child.
    Phew! Sorry. Almost wrote a post on that! Great post though!

  8. November 27, 2017 / 8:16 pm

    I don’t agree with what happened in this situation but I have and always will lo tell a child if what they are doing isn’t nice or tell them to be gentle if it’s getting a bit rough. I don’t are who’s child it is. It’s gentle words to encourage kindness in my opinion. I wouldn’t be offended if someone said the same to my child. A stern telling off is something altogether different. I wouldn’t do it and I wouldn’t want it done to my child.

    Mums can’t always be by their child’s side. We all need to help each other keep the peace. Likewise I often don’t intervene as I feel my child needs to learn to deal with situations himself so if a child is doing something not so kind and it’s not going to endanger anyone then I see how my son reacts and deals with it first. I have a drama queen son. He’s getting better but usually he starts crying if a child so much as looks at him wrong and the child’s Mum comes running over giving their chicks a stern telling off whilst I have to explain that my child is actually over sensitive and theirs didn’t actually do anything lol. He’s learning to be more forgiving though.

  9. Mother of 3
    November 27, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    I have absolutely intervened when another child was behaving badly; and multiple times in multiple situations too. I always wait and see if a parent or caregiver is nearby to step in on their own but when kids are left alone and I am nearby I don’t think anything of speaking up. Maybe it’s because I was a teacher and I am so used to classroom management/ playground etiquette but I have never even thought twice about. I would want someone to speak up if my kids were misbehaving and I wasn’t around to handle it. I just make sure to talk in a calm straightforward manner; no yelling or anything too over the top usually a firm “please stop” is enough.

  10. November 27, 2017 / 10:19 pm

    This is a really tricky one, I think if the child is causing a danger to themself or others, you could take a firm but loving tone like ‘dont do that sweetie, your mummy wont like it’ or something along those lines. I would talk to the other child like Id expect another Mum to speak to mine #familyfun

  11. November 27, 2017 / 10:51 pm

    Tricky situation. I would chat to a child but not tell them off if that makes sense. I would not deal well with anyone who tried to tell one of mine off

  12. November 27, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    Mmmm I have probably changed over time about this one. I think I am pretty much in line with your thinking. I used to do anything to avoid telling off someone else’s child but now am less uncomfortable about doing it if I feel another child is being treated roughly or unkindly. That said if I do like to let kids try and sort it out themselves if at all poss but equally don’t want my kids to think I would stand by and see them being ‘beaten up’….. it’s so tricky! I have some friends who are also teachers who are quite happy to tell my kids off about sitting at a table, listening to me etc – I would never do that but am conscious that you can take a teacher out of a classroom etc…. #familyfunlinky xx

  13. November 28, 2017 / 9:51 am

    I think in all fairness the mum who told the other child off was right for doing so. A swimming pool is a dangerous place for young children, if the mother could see but made no effort to stop her child then I would be furious. I wouldn’t be nasty to the child but I would tell them to stop what they are doing as it isn’t nice. I actually prefer others stepping in if I have missed something my girls have done, you don’t have to shout or scream or be harsh just a simple ‘Please stop, that isn’t nice’. I’ve found doing this most parents have been fine with me, close friends kids I will be a little sterner with and expect the same back, we don’t have eyes in the back of our head :) #familyfunlinky

  14. November 28, 2017 / 10:28 am

    I think its important to read the situation and weigh up what to do. Speak to the child with a calm voice so its conversation rather than telling off.

  15. November 28, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    This is a very hard question. Ideally, I wouldn’t unless they are causing some sort of a harm to them self or others. Depends on the situation really. If I’d do that I’d probably make sure that I use a nice, calm tone and won’t hurt the child feelings. #familyfun

  16. November 28, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    When my children were this young I don’t ever recall telling off another child in this sort of situation. But I’m also a working mom and didn’t go to a lot of “soft play” type places with them. Now that they are older I have no problem telling their friends that they are being rude or disrespectful – but this happens in my own home without their parents around. I actually a bit astounded by the manners (or lack thereof) of my 9 year old’s friends. Not all of them, of course, but there are a few repeat offenders.
    This is always a tough situation to handle. I find often people have very differing views on what is “acceptable” behaviour from children – their own and others. It’s interesting to read other people’s views on this!

  17. November 29, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    I definitely wouldn’t say anything for slightly ‘testing’ behaviour or if a child is being loud. I also wouldn’t jump off the mark straight away if a child did something like throw sand or pushed my child and instead I try to use it as a way to teach my children how to deal with that situation. That said repeatitive behaviour like throwing sand, pushing, hitting, biting where a parent hasn’t stepped in are slightly different. In situations like that I will try to distract get child and include them in what we are doing, failing that I will say something and explain to that child that it is unacceptable to hurt other people. It is a tricky one though and very situation dependant.

  18. November 29, 2017 / 11:11 pm

    *distract the child.

    Predictive text!

  19. December 1, 2017 / 11:42 pm

    This is a tough pickle to be in… I think If I sensed that the instructor didn’t have a good handle on this and the disruption was so widespread, I would step in to for safety reason. I would hopefully act less stern and be more of a distraction or suggest a visit over to his mum’s area… Kids, water, and trouble don’t make for a healthy environment. Now, if I had my wits about me, I may have walked over to the mum (not) involved, and get her involved. That may be the best way out. Life’s little challenges… #familyfun xoxo

  20. December 2, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    I definitely would have intervened. That being said, I would see how my own child was reacting to it first and give them a chance to handle the situation. My son was put off swimming for a very long time after being splashed in the face so it’s definitely not acceptable behaviour. If my own child wasn’t able to handle the situation and the child’s parent wasn’t around or clearly not going to say or do anything I would step in. I would do it calmly though and perhaps just ask him to stop and explain why rather than a strict telling off.

  21. December 2, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    I would never tell off someone else’s child – it just isn’t my place. Asking another child to stop doing something is find in my book though! #familyfunlinky

  22. December 3, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    Aaarrgghh such a difficult one. I think like others have said I’d only step in if said child looked like endangering someone , not just being annoying. That being said I’d b a bit peeved at a lesson being disrupted whilst the child’s parent wasn’t there!! #familyfunlinky

  23. December 3, 2017 / 6:43 pm

    This reminds me of when my eldest got her hands stood on at toddler group. I informed the parent and she said that her daughter did it accidentally so she wouldn’t need to apologise to mine! #FamilyFunLinky

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