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 • The Daily Life  • The Mum Life  • Is It Ever Ok To Tell Off Someone Else’s Child?

Is It Ever Ok To Tell Off Someone Else’s Child?

After a series of events and discussions I have had with other mums this week. It got me thinking. Is it ok to tell off someone else’s child?

I was at our weekly toddler group the other day where I was confronted with a situation that made me feel conflicted. My son was playing with one of his play mates whom he knows fairly well. I was sitting nearby when all of a sudden Gabriel started screaming. This was not a usual scream. I rushed over to see what had happened and found my child sobbing and holding his arm. He had been bitten.

I didn’t know what to do, I had never been confronted with this situation before. I’d dealt with the usual pushing and shoving from other kids ( and from Gabriel). But biting? My usual reaction would be to fob it off and comfort Gabriel until he had calmed down. However this was different. It was physical and I didn’t want Gabriel thinking that biting was an acceptable way to express himself. How do you teach your child that a certain behaviour is wrong without telling the other kid off? Or coming across as passive aggressive to the other parent?

There are times when I feel like a hypocrite when discipling Gabriel. He is often scolded for pushing or snatching from another child. However when another kid does it to him he often looks at me as if to say ‘ Why aren’t you scolding them too’? He is too young to understand the explanation.

So after a long conversation with my fellow mums. I have collected some tips on what is the most acceptable practises when faced with a playground dilemma.

Speak to the parent first

Most parents agree that they prefer you to come and speak to them first before speaking to their child. To be completely honest I get that. It is a natural reaction to stand up for your little ones. That said it should be within reason. There is often times when another kid will snatch a toy from Gabriel or visa versa. And I find myself asking the child if we can share the toys and not snatch. In the same way I would not be bothered at all if another parent said the same to Gabriel.

Know the circumstances

This is a big one. I think too many parents are quick to judge without knowing the circumstances. A prime example is from a friend of mine. Her child looks a lot older than he actually is. While playing at a playgroup amongst some older children he struggled with sharing and had a few temper tantrums. His behaviour was quickly judged by other parents. They had assumed he was a lot older than he was. Had the have known his age they would have realised that his behaviour was very normal for his actual age. Same goes for children who may have certain disabilities that cannot be seen, such as Autism or Aspergers. Know the facts before you jump in and find yourself in a difficult situation.

Remove your child from the situation

The easiest thing to do when a playground battle starts is to remove your child from the situation and explain or discipline them in private. This is my go to move and I find it effective and respectful to other parents and their children.

In the case of the biting incident, my only concern was that I didn’t want Gabriel to start biting other children because he was bitten. In no way was i angry or judgemental. I knew that the other child had learnt this behaviour because he had been bitten himself on numerous occasions. It is a learning process and I try to remember that kids will be kids. It is inevitable that there will be power struggles and upsets as they try to figure out their emotions and stance in this big world. Remember that we are all parents in the same boat.

Looking for more posts?  Check out my post on what it is really like living with a 2 year old

A Fashion lover, An Optimist and a mum of two little boys! I am the every girl turned Modern Mum.

Fashion and Lifestyle Blogger
  • cassiect


    I recently had this happen at the playground! Another child hit my little guy twice. I wasn’t sure who the parent was and certainly no one was rushing over to discipline. Now, I’ll admit it wasn’t overly aggressive hitting, but same thing as biting, I didn’t want my guy to think it was ok…. so I did say something to the child and made sure I talked about with my little guy afterwards. Great discussion starter!!

    April 24, 2018
      • cassiect


        No doubt!

        April 24, 2018
  • I’m sorry Gabriel was bitten. We have to navigate so many new situations as mothers that we aren’t always prepared for and I think you did a great job. I try to make it a learning opportunity for my boys when we they see/experience behaviors like this. They’ve also made mistakes so I am careful not to judge.

    April 24, 2018
  • I know, it’s really a tough situation when you witness someone doing things that aren’t acceptable to your kid. Sorry this happened to you. I know how it feels.

    I had that moment too a few months ago. I heard someone told my daughter “We don’t want to play with you” just out of nowhere. I wanted to say something to those kids but I know it’s not my place. I learned that I could explain to my daughter that it’s wrong and it’s not nice in a way that the other kids can hear me. In such case, my daughter learned that it’s not nice and the other kids have heard it too.


    April 24, 2018
  • Being a parent in this situation is tough!! I definitely agree that you should go to the parent first, because most times the parent doesn’t want their child behaving like that either. I know I would want to know if my kids had bit someone because I don’t want them growing up bullying other kids. But yeah, it’s so tough when the parents aren’t around, because you want the child to know that’s unacceptable too!

    April 24, 2018
  • Very well written! Thank you so much for posting something like this. Spot on!


    April 25, 2018
  • Kam Gale


    It is such a fine line to be crossed! As a mom you don’t want anyone to hurt your child, but at the same time sometimes kids don’t know how to interact with each other very well, talking to the child’s parent is a must to make sure you are both on the same page. xo – Kam

    April 25, 2018
  • mary yowell


    I will pass this on to other moms!

    April 25, 2018
  • I would have to say no because you don’t know how those parents choose to raise and discipline their child.

    April 26, 2018
  • I stopped a boy from hitting a girl. Ols enough to know better – the parent yelled at me – I was shocked she was more concerned about my interference than her son hit and harmed a girl. Sad states of life

    April 26, 2018
  • Fluffy


    A little different but really hard is my situation at my 5 year old sons soccer practice. He is one of the youngest, most kids are between 6 and 8 years but he really likes playing so we are there two times a week. Problem is that there are quite a few very undisciplined kids there who use really bad language. I would never have thought kids this age already know those words. Last week even a little girl on the sidelines was starting to call her brother and his friends names and obviously the boys were answering even worse. Two moms and a father of said kids were within earshot and nobody said anything. My son was on the other side of the field at the time so he didn´t hear it this time but I don´t want my boy learning these words and thinking it´s ok to use them. But is it my place to say something to the kids? Or the parents? With the parents I´m sorry to say that I don´t even know how much of our language they speak. I was honestly shocked at all the bad words and how naturally they came to those kids; I don´t remember it being like that when I was a kid and it´s really sad for me that our soccer practice has to be such a “bad” place.

    May 7, 2018

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