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I Don't Feel Bad for Disciplining Someone Else's Kid

a young boy bends over (crying)
Photograph by Getty Images

As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I recently took that age-old phrase and put it to good use by reprimanding someone else’s child.

I took my daughter to a photo shoot the other day. I didn't have someone to watch our 3-year-old, so he tagged along with us. He got a stern lecture beforehand about the importance of minding his manners, and keeping a low profile. I allowed him to bring along his favorite toy for entertainment while we wait for her. But little did I know, my toddler was the least of my worries.

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There was another little boy there (about 7 years old) who began playing with our son's toy trains. For the record, our son is extremely attached to the make-believe steam engines, so he took it back from the little boy.

I then placed the toy in my bag. But the little boy took it and started playing with the train again.

"Don't do that. It's rude to go in someone's bag," I said in a reprimanding tone.

I took the train back and gave it to my son. The little boy's mom was right there, but I don't know if she saw what happened. I’m pretty sure she heard me, but didn't say anything to me or her son.

It wasn’t the first time the little boy did something disrespectful. He aggressively moved passed my daughter a couple of times and didn’t say sorry. I stayed silent hoping that his mom would chime in and reprimand him herself. Sadly, that never happened.

I finally took matters into my own hands when his mom didn’t corrected him for going into my purse. Let’s face it, no one sets out to scold another child. But when it comes to my and my kids' boundaries and personal space, all bets are off.

Some people may disagree with what I did, and that’s OK. I could have spoken to his mom upfront or continued ignoring his rudeness. But I chose to deal with it my own way. It’s important for children to learn manners. And sometimes you may have to go into teaching mode if the parents don’t correct them.

In fact, it wasn’t too long ago when my daughter was reprimanded by someone for hopping on top of a chair. I was there when it happened and had actually spoken to her before about doing it. The lady told her that “chairs are for sitting and not climbing on,” and I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I gave her a gesture of thanks.

These moments are no different from my childhood. I grew up during a time when trusting your neighbors and teachers to look after kids was the norm. If someone in the community saw a child misbehaving, that kid would be reprimanded. The parents were would also be notified.

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Clearly, so much has changed since those days. With child abductions often being played out in the news and social media feeds, it’s hard to trust people these days.

Hopefully, my experience will serve as a wake up call to parents who stand by allowing their kids cross boundaries. I certainly used that moment as a lesson. I reminded my kids never to go into anyone’s bag and also respect everyone’s personal space—and hopefully, someone else won't have to.

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