Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Someone Else's Child - Step In or Let It Go?

 When is it okay to intervene, correct or possibly discipline a child that is not your own? 
   Just the other night at a dinner party, the topic of children came up as it often does, but this time was different. On this night we were discussing if it was OK to correct or discipline someone Else's child, even if you don't know the parents. The story that was brought up was about a boy that was out of control at a campground. There were plenty of adults around and the parent did not stand out as the authority figure. Even though the boy was causing all sorts of ruckus no one said anything until he tried to throw a small dog. He also but the same dog into an empty cooler and sat on it. At this time someone told the boy "OK, it's time to let the dog go."  Later in the evening someone asked were the dog was and the answer they received was with the boy. The parent was in close proximity to all of these events but said nothing. Since  the parent refused to stop the boy from harming the dog should one of the other adults step in to correct someone Else's child or should they let it go?
No kids in the basket of a shopping cart!
   The day after the dinner party, I remembered a time when I stepped in to correct a child and it took an odd turn. At the time I was working at Home Depot designing custom windows and doors. I had this customer come up to place an order with a child in the basket of a shopping cart. Now this was against store policy but we let it slide if the kid was sitting and well behaved, which was the case at the time. Just after we started to go through the options the little boy started to act up and he kept jumping around in the basket of the cart. Obviously this is very unsafe. Well, it turns out not to be so obvious, because the parent my customer ignored the behavior. I could not let this behavior slide, but I didn't want to take away the parents authority. So at first I simply brought it up with the parent. Apparently they were not worried because my warning fell on deaf ears. A few minutes later, I had enough of this kid risking his safety right in front of me and his parents. I think he was taunting me. So I calmly interrupted his mother and told the boy to be careful and sit down and he did. Both of his parents looked at me as if they were in shock. From then on every time the boy acted up his parents would tell him to stop or calm down before the mean man(me) would yell at him. A few times they even asked me to tell him to stop. The act of making me a villain angered me beyond belief. How could they neglect there parenting duties and make me the bad guy? Should I have just stayed out of it and let the boy possibly get hurt?
   NO! Angry as I was about those people, who I have been calling parents, making me out as a villain it was worth it. You should always step in and either correct the child or notify the parents. Sometimes you may have to do both correcting the parents and stopping the child from the unsafe behavior, like I found out. Now as a parent  I take pride in making sure my kids are safe even though they sometimes see me as the villain. When the safety of children or others(dogs included) are at risk it is always okay to intervene, correct and possibly discipline a child that is not your own.

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