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Corporal Punishment at the Mall

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  • Corporal Punishment at the Mall

    Today at the mall play area, I saw a boy in a green shirt spit into a younger boy's face. I quickly gave the spitting child a dirty look and mouthed "Not nice" to him. A moment later, I saw the younger child's mother, so I told her what had happened. Her response shocked me!

    She told me thanks as she quickly walked up and slapped the younger child's hand and grabbed the boy in the green shirt and slapped his hand several times. (At this point, I realized they must be brothers.) When she came back to say thanks for letting her know what happened, I didn't know what to do. I asked her why she slapped her younger child's hand because he hadn't done anything wrong. She said, "Oh, I thought he was spitting too." She never said sorry to this little boy either!

    How do you handle situations like these? What should I have said to her? I was so taken aback, I just quietly prayed for her boys and left the area as fast as I could. I can never think of a good reply in the heat of the moment.

  • #2
    I know you meant no harm to come to the boys....but...Oh my...she probably reacted out of wanting you to see she was in control of her kids and for embarassment on her own part..she was flustered and did not know what to do.

    Those are tough situations to see and deal with in a manner that won't cause more harm to the children when you walk away or once they get home.


    • #3
      Whenever I see kids fighting in public or with my child I'll usually say things to the other mom like, sharing is hard or 2 can be a rough age or just something to sort of empathize with the mom and let her know that I understand and don't expect her to rush to action. There is sometimes pressure for moms to discipline their children when they act out in public so I've seen moms who tend to be more harsh in public than behind closed doors simply because they don't know how else to react. So I always try and be empathetic even after they react punitively because you never know when a mom might really want to change her ways but doesn't know how and if she doesn't feel judged she may just ask for help. It is very hard to witness though I know.


      • #4
        i always avoid "telling" on children, too, unless i can somehow use an example of how to respond compassionately, like "oh, you must be angry at your brother since you hit him. a better way would be to use your words. would you like me to help you?" and to the one who got hit: "are you okay? would you like to tell your brother that he needs to respect your body?" but this would only be if the stars aligned and i wasn't chasing my 2 all over the mall


        • #5
          "Telling on other children"

          I also try to avoid telling on other children, if I can. When I told the mom about her child being spit on, I wasn't expecting her to punish anyone. I was expecting her to go comfort her son and say something like "Sorry that boy spit on you. Here let me wash your face off."

          I only told her because of the unknown germ situation with being spit on. At the time I told her, I did not know the spitting child was the first boys brother. I thought he was just another child at the play area, and the boys were not related to each other.

          I know if either of my sons were spit on directly in the face, I would want to clean off there face with a baby wipe or something. So I was just trying to be nice... not punitive.


          • #6
            Originally posted by jenkrug View Post
            I know if either of my sons were spit on directly in the face, I would want to clean off there face with a baby wipe or something. So I was just trying to be nice... not punitive.
            that makes total sense. i'm germophobic and there's a good chance i may have reacted the same way as you.

            i'm sorry the reaction to your being nice was corporal punishment. i hate it when my best intentions are met w/undesirable outcomes


            • #7
              It's always so tough when you see other people's kids being treated in ways you think are inappropriate. I remember one time, I heard a little girl's mother threaten her with a spanking several times in a 10-minute period.

              I'm so sorry this happened.