Disciplining Other People’s Kids: When Minding Your Business Isn’t An Option

Disciplining Other People’s Kids
I’m pretty hands off when it comes to my kids’ conflicts.

Sure, I coach them through scuffles and break things up when it gets too intense, but for the most part, I’m a fan of letting my sons work things out on their own. In our house, it’s not unusual to hear royal rumbles erupting or to walk in on a wrestling match, and unless someone’s yelling uncle I tend to keep my nose out of it.

Today after school was no exception, my son and I enjoying some time at the park before heading home, when some “big kids” started wrestling on the ground beside us.

They were laughing and seemed evenly matched, so I continued on, pushing my little guy on the swing without giving it a second thought.

Except soon enough, the laughter turned to tears and one of the kids wrestling didn’t seem to be having fun anymore.

I paused, wanting to give the boys the benefit of the doubt. Waiting to see how they were going to handle things and if everything was copacetic.

And then one of them hauled off and starting repeatedly kicking the other in the gut.

I froze for a split second, not really believing what I was seeing, but not before making use of my most serious, don’t you even think of messing with my kid voice and looked him straight in the eye — LEAVE. HIM. ALONE.

He just looked at me, stunned.

Stuttering and stammering, before sheepishly shrugging his shoulders.  “He’s my brother”, he managed to get out, eyes drifting down to his sibling, whose eyes were glued to mine, wondering what I was going to do next.

I. Don’t. Care. Get. Away. From. Him.

I spoke slowly and clearly, so there was no mistaking that I wasn’t going to stand by and to let him pound the snot out of his brother on my watch.

They finally got up, shaking the wood chips from their clothes as they ran along, probably not giving a second thought to the crazy mom who spoke sternly to them for not playing nice.

Relieved to return to our afternoon fun, I was suddenly preoccupied, wondering whether the fighting siblings’ parents had been watching.

If I had stuck my nose where it didn’t belong.

If I was going to be on the receiving end of an angry parent, annoyed with me for putting their kid on blast.

But then just as quickly as my worries began, I realized I didn’t care.

And that even if they were angry, it still wouldn’t be enough to change my decision.

Because while it’s sometimes easy to butt out, coaching ourselves out of potential conflict with other parents with thoughts of “to each his own”, “it’s none of my business” and “it’s not my place,” becoming complacent and avoiding taking action when action is needed is not what our kids deserve.

So yes, I butted my nose in someone else’s business.

And I’d gladly do it again tomorrow.


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