We’ve all been there. Watching a mom and a child struggle in a busy store, or on the bus, or at the park. Voices get raised, tears and limbs go flying. It’s not always the kids losing control. Sometimes it’s their moms.
BlogHer’s Janna shares a particularly harrowing account of facing off with another mom at the zoo over how she was treating her child.
It’s awkward enough when a kid totally loses it in public. When mom starts throwing a tantrum too, most of us don’t even want to look. But sometimes we can’t look away.
What should you do if you witness a mom losing it with her kids?
Offer to help. When a mom is losing it in public, she’s probably not happy about she’s acting. Confronting her with your judgements about her parenting could set her off. If the child is being abused, an angry confrontation can lead to more abuse later.
Instead, let her know that you understand parenting is hard and ask what you can do to help. You don’t want to condone abusive behavior, but you want to avoid judging the mom. Generally, a calm offer of assistance is enough to defuse the situation. One calm helpful voice can bring the whole scene back into perspective, and help the parent and child calm down.
If that doesn’t work, and the child is clearly in danger (as the little boy in the story above was), stand your ground. Tell her you’re concerned about what’s happening. Stay very calm, and try to talk about your own observations rather than judging her actions. For example, point out that she’s holding the child’s arm very tightly and speaking too loudly, rather than saying, “You’re abusing your kid.”
Remember, you’re trying to help the mom parent her child well, not defend the child against an enemy. Even if she’s behaving very, very badly.
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