Is it okay to tell off other people’s children?
Darren Levin has spent his life making bad decisions so you can make better ones. Ask away!
Our local park is jammed full of kids most afternoons. And while it's mostly civil, there's the brats who hog the equipment, intimidate the little ones, and have a sadistic hobby of showering children in tanbark as soon as they get off the swing. Of course their parents are nowhere to be found. Is it ever OK to tell off kids like this?
- Catherine, 42
There's always kids that have to ruin it all for everyone, aren't there? And I'm going to take a huge stab in the dark here and say one of them is boy with a mullet and a Minecraft T-shirt. He's probably spent the past 16 hours killing aliens on Fortnite, and needs to release all that pent-up aggro energy in a real-life setting.
Unfortunately, he's decided to target your poor unsuspecting kid who was probably just minding their business, doing sweet angel baby things on the swings, when mean mullet boy threw tanbark over them. There's literally nothing worst than being five years old and covered in tanbark. That stuff is like glitter in wood form. I know it's tempting to intervene and confront the boy, especially when your sweet baby angel is screaming blue bloody murder while trying to extract strands of tanbark from their hair. But what is that saying to them? That mum and dad will forever swoop in and solve all their problems? There's a subtle art to stepping in and as the old Kenny Rogers classic goes you have to know when to hold 'em, and even the most explosive park stoushes can easily be resolved without any parental intervention.
But if you let the boy/girl get away with that behaviour are you fostering a culture of toxic behaviour? There really needs to be a UN-sanctioned Rules Of Engagement agreement for the park. If you do decide to step in and confront the Minecraft-loving bully, do at least five head checks to make sure their parents aren't around. And definitely make sure you're up for the fight because things can - and probably will - get messy. No one wants to end up on a viral video on YouTube called "Parent gets beaten up by child with mullet at park".
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Originally published as Is it okay to tell off other people's children?