To intervene or not to intervene, that is the question...

Erin - posted on 09/05/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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Hi there!
Recently, I was in the store and witnessed a mother being abusive with her children. Physically. I guess I lack the confidence in myself to make this split second decision-do I get involved or not? Because am I getting involved based on my strong emotional reaction, and therefore going to react the wrong way? Or will I be lucky enough to have the right words and not make things get out of hand any more than they already are?
Either way, I did make a choice comment that let this mother know that what she was doing was not ok and that she was being watched-literally by everyone near the checkout. She said nothing back. But I feel that I could have said more, done more. Anyhow, I would really like to know what others would do in this situation. Let me tell you, I was just HOT with anger over what I was seeing. Getting after your child to behave when you're out and about is one thing, and can be challenging, but I don't believe there was much sympathy to be had with this mother. Except for that maybe she is a very sad individual without much love for herself. But that's no excuse for it to be had out on your kids.
Any positive advice here would be greatly appreciated!

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Erin - posted on 09/06/2010

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Yes, Sylvia, that is exactly it. I "freeze" too. I don't know that I could react calmly so therefore just try not to react, but yet feel bad that I haven't done something more positive for the situation. I really like the idea of trying to relate to the mom, but like you said, it's hard to keep your cool when you see something like that happen. I guess it's the old adage, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...
I have had hard times with my kids, even had to take them out of the store in the middle of a tantrum. It's so nice to get that "look" from other moms that says, "Been there, done that. It's ok." But could I give that look to someone who's hitting their kid? That is a hard thing to do and takes a person with a big heart.
Thank you so much for responding!

Sylvia - posted on 09/06/2010

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How awful :(

I've seen a mum hit a child a couple of times, and I've never figured out what to say or what to do -- it's so shocking that I just kind of freeze. I don't know what the right thing to do is ...

In situations where a little kid is not coping well and the parent is clearly getting fed up, I'll often give the parent a sympathetic look -- especially if I've got DD with me, so it's clear I'm a parent too and can relate -- and/or tried to distract the upset kid. I'll engage the parent in conversation if I spot an opening (even though talking to strangers on the bus is not normal behaviour here, it can be OK if both people have kids with them) and commiserate about how hard it is some days. But I don't know if I could manage to be calm and sympathetic to someone I'd just seen swat a little kid -- and of the three times I've seen it, two were *really* little, like not talking yet :( :(

Erin - posted on 09/05/2010

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I'm sorry, I should have mentioned that. She spanked him and slapped him across the face.
Thanks for the advice by the way : )

Angie - posted on 09/05/2010

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You don't say exactly what the mother was doing. If she was hitting her child I might try to calm her down; "I see you're having a rough day, is there anything I can do to help you?" If that didn't work, I'd call the store manager and let him/her deal with it. If nothing is done still, call 911.

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