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Hey Parent at the Playground, Don’t Make Me Discipline Your Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

Not to brag, but my kids are pretty well-behaved. They know the rules while we’re out because we review them in the car on the way to our location. “No hitting or fighting. No whining. Listen and obey.” They also know that I have zero problems removing them from a situation in which they are not behaving.

But over the summer I’ve come to realize that not all parents have such rules with their children. Some parents are a lot more lax. Listen, I have no problem with different parenting styles. I say do what works for your family, but please don’t put me in a position where I'm going to have to discipline your kids.

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There was one day when I decided to take my kids to the mall to play in their indoor play place. I was sitting and watching them play with about five other children when I looked around and realized there were no other adults around. All these kids were just playing unsupervised and I began thinking, “If something happens to one of these kids I’m going to have to take care of it.”

And let's be real, I just don’t want that kind of responsibility! It’s anxiety-inducing enough having to care for my own children, I don’t want to take care of a stranger’s kid! Where exactly were the caretakers for all these children? Thankfully, there were no incidents that day.

I just don’t get it. What’s so difficult about disciplining your own kid?

Another time we were at the McDonald’s play place and my son made friends with another boy. They were running around pretend fighting as kids often do. But then the other little boy started to take things a little too far. For some reason he had his eyes set on another young boy and would throw him on the ground and kick him. No one was crying, but it just didn’t feel right to me.

I pulled my son aside and told him that no matter what anyone else did he was not to lay his hands on anyone. He understood and continued playing but the other boy would not let up! I noticed his dad was sitting at a table scrolling through his phone and while I have no problem if you want to be on your phone while your kid is playing, maybe you should glance up every now and again. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and as sweetly as I could muster, I asked the little boy to quit beating up on the other kid. He looked at me, glanced at his dad who still had his nose in his phone, and nodded.

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Just the other day at a magic show one little kid kept standing up and interrupting the magician. Eventually he began head-butting the poor guy and even hit him in a, ahem, very sensitive and private area. The magician had to stop his show and ask where the boy’s parents were. It took a minute before his mom finally claimed him, but she still didn’t really do anything about it.

I just don’t get it. What’s so difficult about disciplining your own kid? I don’t want to do it! I have my own kids that I need to keep in line. It’s not cute when your kid is misbehaving—it actually kinda ruins it for everyone else.

Kids will be kids, I know. I’m not saying they should be seen and not heard. I’m not saying they have to behave perfectly at all times. I’m not even saying you should keep them locked up at home. All I’m saying is that if you take your kids out in public you need to do your best to keep an eye on them and correct their behavior when needed. For the sake of all the people around you, try to raise a human being who knows that he can’t just run around doing whatever he wants.

I don’t want to have to stop your kid and correct him—that’s your job.

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