When Other Children Misbehave

When Other Children MisbehaveWith the weather warming up and blue skies here to stay, I’ve found myself out and about with Skeeter more frequently.  We spend a lot of time at the park and on weekend play dates with friends.  And the more we get out, the more I run into misbehaving kids.

I don’t expect children to behave 100% of the time.  Anyone who saw me standing in front of the grocery store with a toddler screaming “no store!” yesterday would know that I’m not the perfect mother and my toddler definitely acts out.  But when we’re in public places, I make an effort to ensure my child isn’t negatively affecting others.

All too often, I find that when the other child is misbehaving, the parents are nowhere to be seen.  So, the question is raised…

“How should I react when another child is being mean to mine?”

Recently, we were at a local playground and the kids were running around calling each other names.  I really didn’t pay attention until they were also calling my child names.  At that point, I just chose to smile and say, “Oh, that’s not her name!  Her name is Skeeter.”  I made it as if I was introducing her rather than correcting them.

A few other times, I’ve made the statement, “Well, that’s not nice.”  My statement isn’t necessarily intended to admonish the other child, because that’s not my job.  It is to let my child know that I recognized the behavior, and I don’t want her to act the same way.  If the other child overhears and corrects their behavior, well that’s just a bonus.

However, most recently, we were on a play date with my college roommate and found ourselves in a different situation.  We brought Skeeter and her infant to a play place that had a separate section for children aged 3 and under.  Some parents were allowing their children, who were much older than the cutoff, to play in this section.  Had they been playing nicely, I wouldn’t have had an issue.  But the older kids telling my child to get off a toy is inappropriate.  Even worse?  The parents were taking pictures of their children misbehaving, instead of correcting them.

In all fairness, my child also misbehaved.  She told another child to stop playing with a toy and swatted at him.  The difference?  I put a stop to it.  She had to leave the toy and apologize.  I don’t expect perfection, just effort on the parents’ behalf.

In this situation with the other parents, I found myself speechless.  We ended up leaving the area since the behavior continued with no sign of intervention.  But now I’m curious as to how I should have acted.  So instead of being the informer and creating a nice, pretty bullet list of things to do, I am turning the tables and seeking your advice this time.  My hope is that this will create an open and honest {yet still kind and purposeful} dialogue in the comments below as to how we should act when other children misbehave.  Fellow moms, please share your thoughts…

How would you react to a child acting poorly toward yours?


  1. Sigh. I’m the passive aggressive parent that will call other people’s children out on their bad behavior. I’ll tell the child “don’t do that” or “why would you think that’s ok” and then look at the parents with a look on my face that says “rein in your kid”. Recently, I was waiting in line behind a mother with her son (about 5) in the checkout line of Target. The kid was out zipping around the area when he finally stopped at the candy. After his mother told him that she wasn’t buying any candy today he proceeded to squish all the candy bars. She looked away, he looked at me and smiled. I told him to “cut it out” and to get his butt back to his mom. She have me a dirty look but didn’t say anything else. The cashier smiled at me and when she was gone and it was my turn thanked me and said he never knows what to do in that situation. I guess most people don’t. As for me, I’m tired of the overly permissible parent and the resulting misbehaved child.

  2. I have used my teacher voice on kids before. At a public play scape at a local church, I redirected kids that were about 7-8 that kept pushing the punching bag watching it hit the other bag, then my 3 year old. I let it go once, once. When he continued, I let my elementary teacher self kick in, “did you see what you did? But then you did it again? Where are your parents? I think you should go join them.” They dutifully listened and left the play area because their parents weren’t in the play area with them.
    At the Stomping Grounds, if the kids parents don’t get the hint, I report older kids to workers so someone else can be the bad guy. Some days I have it in me to do it, others not so much.

  3. That’s happened a few times I’ve taken LO to the mall play area. A lot of the children were wearing shoes and jumping off the toys, almost hitting Connor. So I asked them if they were supposed to be wearing shoes and some of htem stopped and took off their shoes. The other moms quickly realized that shoes needed to be of, then they started telling their kids not to jump off around my kid. Another time, all these older kids were jumping off the toys and being so destructive, that I didn’t even attempt to let Connor play in there until they were gone. Plus, I was trying to find mall security so they could chase the kids back to their parents. It’s always a hard situation and there will never be a perfect solution. But I always make a point of thanking parents when their child shows excellent manners and plays nicely with Connor.

  4. Around Easter, my co-op had an egg hunt at a local park. Another group of moms were doing the same thing. The kids were off playing in the sandbox and on the playground while the moms all chatted away by the tables. My 4 yr old came to me and said another kid was throwing sand. I walked over just to be a parental presence and observe for myself. The child continued to throw sand and my son continued to say, “Please don’t throw sand.” Since this little boy was not listening,I reiterated my son and politely asked him to not throw sand. He continued. I turned around and waved at the group of moms to get their attention so that whomever this child belonged to could come rectify the situation. A few moms glanced and turned away. So when the child threw sand I got out the momma bear voice and said, “No sir. We don’t throw sand.” It was stern enough that he immediately stopped. His mom did not come for 10 more minutes and that was because he was crying for a turn on one of those spring horse things. I don’t believe in intervening unless it’s endangering another child. I was not going to the doctor’s office to deal with scratched eyes from sand.

  5. What to do when another child is misbehaving? Learn to deal with it. Constantly remind your child that although they may be surrounded by children with inappropriate behavior, they don’t have to follow in their footsteps. Our children will grow up and be constantly surrounded by people with behaviors we wish they never pick up- In middle school, high school, college. Then they will become adults and mommy won’t be in the workplace to helicopter and protect them from bad influences. They must learn to deal with rude, loud or unbehaving kids that will eventually become rude, unbehaving adults, coworkers, and bosses.

    • I agree, unless the behavior is unsafe. Then sometimes, the teacher in me comes out. I would feel terrible if another child got hurt because I didnt intervene. Today that took place on our street and my child was almost collateral damage. I will always speak up on unsafe behavior.

  6. I have been a teacher for 13 years, so I’m probably a little TOO comfortable correcting other people’s children. I correct them and get told on all the time. So far no issues with it. I’m a lot busier correcting my own now since they are older!


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