Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
How to react when other people scold our children?

It has happened to all of us. You are in the park, at the grandparents’ house or in the supermarket and your child yells, or cries or gets into a fight with another child, and an adult, who is not you, scolds him. At first there is no one who finds this pleasant, right? Should we consent? What can we do when another adult scolds our child?

When another person reprimands our son, an almost immediate visceral reaction occurs in us that usually happens by wanting to strike him down ipso facto. Who is he/she to do it?

But in addition to this, we may feel that our paternity , our parenting style, is being questioned. If at a meal with friends someone scolds the little one because he has put his fingers in the sauce bowl, what we translate is Hey, have you not known how to teach your child manners? It may also be that we feel bad for not having been more attentive (always depending on the situation, mind you).

There are many times when even though we don’t want it to happen, it will happen, times when another adult will scold them and also in the worst way without us having the option to avoid it. What can we do then?

There are several factors that can modulate our reaction:

  • Who: as I said, for many parents it is not the same if the one who scolds is a total stranger or their grandfather. The fact of having an emotional bond with the other person can make us more or less justify the action, but this will also make us feel more (or less) free to respond on the spot.
  • How: has he done it calmly and with good words or in a bad way?
  • Where: were we present or not? Was it at the other person’s house, for example, or a public place?
  • Why: Was our son’s behavior a danger to himself or others, uncivil behavior, or was it just something that bothered the person who scolded him?

So who can scold your child? The answer to this is actually quite simple: you and whoever you decide.

How to react if another person scolds our child

Let’s look at the three most common possible reactions :

  • 1) If we do not agree on the way or on the very fact that another adult scolds our child, we could openly show our anger towards the other and rebuke him . It would be the model Do not mess with my son . As I will explain later in this case, we must try to avoid showing aggressiveness since with this we would be transmitting to the child that this is the way to resolve conflicts, and we do not want that, right?
  • 2) We can talk alone with the adult to show our disagreement and then do it with our son to nuance the situation and make sure that he has understood what has happened. This option is quite common, for example, with grandparents or close relatives whom we do not want to disavow in front of the child but with whom we do not necessarily agree.
  • 3) Validating the adult would be the third option, in case we consider that they have acted correctly. If it occurs in public spaces such as in a museum when the security guard warns the child not to run, we could take it for granted. However, whether we agree or not, this option is not the most recommended since the ideal is always to talk to our son after a scene like this: we are his reference, he deserves that we pay attention to him and modulate what happened.

The truth? There is no correct way to react: everything depends on the situation, on the person… as I explained in previous paragraphs.

Of course, there is one thing that we have to take into account before acting:

  • Parents are a role model for our children, so be careful how we react when they are present. Responding to another adult by scolding him or being especially irritable or aggressive is a poor role model for our little ones because… we don’t want them to learn that aggressiveness is the answer, right?

take advantage of the situation

If an adult has scolded our child without our consent, in addition to talking to that adult, we must attend to the child. What a priori appears as a negative situation we can take advantage of to work on certain aspects with our son.

  • Adults, by the mere fact of being adults, are not always right and/or act in a positive way. This interests us that they have it clear in the face of, for example, preventing abuses.
  • The response to misbehavior should not be another misbehavior.
  • The personal worth of each one does not depend on what others think (with this we work on self-concept, self- esteem …).
  • Conflict resolution: how do we resolve the situation with the other adult (by setting an example, as I said before), how could the situation have been resolved if the other adult had not interfered (for example, if they were scolded for having taken another child’s toy ) , because we work how you can manage it on other occasions), etc.