Disciplining Other People's Children...


Manners were a big focus in my house growing up.

It was important for my parents that if they were going to have a four child circus, at least it would be a polite one. Also my grandmother’s expectations rivalled the queens and so they ran a tight ship in preparation of her regular visits.

As a result, I am generally a polite person. If you bump into me, I will likely apologize for your mistake. It’s an involuntary response. I can't help it!

So, my kids have been learning pleases, thank you and excuse me's right from the start.

Last weekend it was the Trick or Treat day downtown Duncan at our Saturday market. On the way there I discussed what we were doing with our son. I explained to him that we say, “Trick or treat,” at the door and thank them afterwards.

And he did wonderfully. Occasionally he forgot what to say and I reminded him.

I got distracted by his little sister when he approached one of the stores. I heard him say, “Trick or Treat,” and as he started to walk away the woman grabbed his basket to hold him there. I could see he was scared. She raised her voice at him and asked, "What do you say?" She wasn't letting go. He meekly said, “Thank you,” and then ran back to me.

It took that woman five seconds to drain the positive energy out of the holiday.

Immediately I could see the change in his face. He was still enjoying himself but he was more timid and not his usual boisterous self.

I wanted to say something. I almost did. I wanted to defend him and remind her that he is three-years-old not 10. I wanted to let her know that he remembered nine out of the 10 times. And to let her know that raising her voice and holding on to a child she doesn't know is inappropriate.

I walked away. Partially because I wasn't sure if I was right or wrong. And partially because I wanted to try to remove my son from the situation and put a smile back on his face. But I was angry.

Here's the thing. I am OK with people disciplining my children, depending on the scenario. When we are at a play-date and he isn't sharing, I have no problem having a friend step in and help the kids work something out.

Both sets of grandparents are aware of our models of discipline and although they respectfully allow us to take care of this while we are present, they are absolutely given our blessing to carry out discipline when they have our children with them. And I'm even OK with a stranger nicely correcting his behaviour if I miss something at the park that is affecting other children.

But when nobody is being harmed?

I will probably be that crazy mom, the one who calls the store and complains about that woman.

You know, the one spending her Saturday handing out free candy to kids...

Kristy Symes