I Don’t Care How Superior You Think Your Parenting Skills Are, Do Not Discipline Other People’s Kids

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woman-wagging-fingerI don’t care if you’re Supernanny, you should never discipline other people’s small children. You have no idea what is going on with a child who is behaving poorly. Assuming you do and intervening is ridiculous. When and if you decide to comment on a child’s behavior — address the parent, not the child.

A post I read about a woman’s plane ride from hell begged the question, “Is it ok to discipline another person’s child on a flight?” The author, journalist and novelist Lee Tulloch, recently experienced a horrible flight filled with screaming children. There was one child in particular who was completely out of control. Tulloch claims the child had a seven hour tantrum. From

The little girl threw a seven-hour long tantrum, interrupted by a blessed hour when, so wound up, she fell into a coma of exhaustion. The parents didn’t seem to be disturbed by this at all. They tried to get her to calm down sporadically, but when she cycled out of control, they put her down in the aisle and let her run wild.

Sometimes she flung herself on the aisle floor, fists balled. Other times she flung herself at her father in his aisle seat, sobbing and begging him to pick her up. The flight attendants didn’t help and just moved her out of the way when they were rolling their carts down the aisle.

I’ve never been on a plane where flight attendants let a toddler roam the aisles by herself. That and the unbelievable seven hour tantrum are sort of making me question how much of this story is based in truth, and how much of it is an overreaction to a child misbehaving in flight. Regardless, disciplining someone else’s tantrumming toddler on a flight will probably not end well.

Maybe I’m just the luckiest person in the world, but I’ve never experienced this breed of parent people insist exist – the one who completely ignores their tantrumming child for the duration of a flight. I’ve had my share of screaming kids on flights for sure, but there has always been a horrified parent, desperately trying to calm their upset spawn. The one time my child turned demon as soon as we boarded a plane, I spent the better part of an hour sweating, juggling toys, praying to every god I could think of and apologizing to everyone around me. I was overcome with a mixture of paranoia and horror. Had someone tried to “discipline” my child in my mid-flight nightmare, I would have calmly handed him over and said, “Great! You’re a professional! You deal with this kid, asshole!”

The author insists that a “death stare” from her probably would have done the trick and tamed this child. If Tulloch’s death stare is that effective, I’m inviting her over for dinner so she can teach me her tricks. But I still don’t want her using them on my children. I don’t care how superior you think your parenting skills are, if you are a stranger, don’t discipline my children.

(photo: Vankad/ Shutterstock)