Jun 12, 2011

Children deserve love and respect

Recently I was in a grocery store where a woman was screeching at her children. I could hear her from several aisles away. As I entered the aisle they were in, I noticed the yelling didn't even seem to bother her children. The conclusion I came to quickly was they were use to her screaming. The thing about that situation that has bothered me the most was that I didn't say anything to the woman. I didn't tell the children anything. I felt like telling the mother to take a step back and remember that her children were human beings who deserved respect, but I didn't. I also felt like telling the children that their offense didn't warrant the reaction. Who is going to stick up for those children if their own mother embarrasses and ridicules them in public? Part of me also thought I shouldn't get involved because I didn't know everything that had happened with the children in the past.

One of the things I remember from my child psychology class is that children need attention, whether it is negative or positive. I much prefer when my son does something positive, but he is more willing to do that when I praise his small or large efforts. Children should never be publicly shamed or embarrassed.

As a parent, I know that sometimes children need to be disciplined. However, I also know there is positive reinforcement. For example, if your child washes his/her hands without you needing to remind him or her, let your child know how proud of him or her you are. If they throw a piece of paper in the garbage instead of on the floor, act like it was a slight miracle and praise them like they just made the whole house sparkle.

I hope to never be in a situation again where children are being verbally abused in a public setting. Remember that there are some children out there that need praise and a gentle voice, even if they aren't yours. The children we see today will someday be the parents of tomorrow.

There are ways to discipline with love. The first thing is always let your child know why they are being disciplined. I know that I have misunderstood my son's actions before and when he explained exactly what was going on, I was happy that I asked him about his actions. Make the punishment fit the crime. Let them know that although you don't like the undesirable action, that you still love them.

How have you stood up for children you didn't know when the parents are beyond control, or did I do the right thing by not saying anything? What is your best parenting advice that may help me and others.

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*For the record, what I heard was not "just" yelling.  I was in hearing distance waiting in a line and shopping for at least 10 minutes.  The entire time she was screaming or using a loud voice and it was because one of the children had asked for ice cream.  This mother was out of control and being verbally abusive (threatening).  If it is a parent is simply disciplining a bad behavior, go for it. 


  1. You seem very judgmental of other people. The mother could be having a rough day. Maybe someone in her family just died recently, or they are going through a rough time. You don't know her story so you really shouldn't step in. Unless she was throwing her kids around you have no right to say anything about how she is raising her kids.

  2. I understand that she could have been having the worst day of her life, but at the same time, does that give her the right to verbally abuse her children?

  3. There is a huge difference between yelling at someone and verbally abusing someone.

  4. I completely agree with Nolie. Children need to be disciplined and not all discipline is verbally abusive.

    I didn't use the term verbally abusive lightly, she was threatening and putting her own children down.

  5. http://www.stopspanking.com/abusewheel.html#Nurturing_Children

    These are wheels that show abusive behavior and the other shows nurturing behavior. I think we all have seen both wheels.

    I have worked with child victims of abuse and these encounters can have an impact on them. There is a difference between abuse and discipline... but some people don't know that line and cross it (in public!)

    I do not think you are judgmental, I think you clearly saw behavior that you didn't agree with. On bad days, children are killed; at what point do we stop excusing, "oh, she had a bad day"?

  6. Learning how to be an active bystander is the answer here. You have to know when you can step in and when you can't. You have to know what to say to this woman without offending her but still let her know her behavior is not appropriate. That takes skills most of us do not have, but can learn. Until we as a society are willing to step up and say that verbal or any abuse is wrong, there will be mothers like this who. most likely, learned this behavior from her own parents.

  7. phoxx1x, I would love to learn how to be an active bystander. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    Brenda, I hope that the children you work with will be able to find the love and respect they deserve.