Getting Mad at Other People's Kids

A question inspired by this thread.

The hypothetical example of a $5000 laptop damaged in a juice fight stuck with me. Obviously, laying hands on someone else’s kid is never acceptable (note, I don’t think anyone was seriously suggesting that in the thread), but what kind of reaction is appropriate if somebody else’s child damages or destroys one’s property in the midst of some episode of bad, or simply wild & kidlike, behavior? Or if the kid causes you some injury?

I don’t have kids, so I’m not sure what I’d be comfortable with. Does it depend on the degree of damage? Is a reprimand too much; should the “victim” (believe me, if I could think of a better word here, I would!) bypass the child entirely and have a word with the parents? I would think it would also depend on the age of the child. Do any parents here have examples you can share of a time when one of your kids did something awful (whether it was an accident, or not) and the person on the receiving end handled it either very well or very poorly?


No easy answer, to be sure. Have attempts been made to control the wild behavior, either by parents or other adults? Could the damage been prevented by a bit of foresight - like putting stuff out of reach or placing rooms off-limits before young 'uns arrive? Was SOME sort of diversion planned for the kids ahead of time?

I’ve been known to say “We do not run/throw things/do [whatever] in this house” to other people’s kids. I also kid-proof and make sure there’s a place with age-appropriate stuff for them. Luckily, most of my friends are parents who don’t allow their kids to act up.

If someone’s kid damaged or destroyed something valuable, I’m not sure how I’d handle it, but I’d certainly expect the child to bear a certain amount of responsibility… Tuff question…

I would hope that the parent of the child would set a good example and offer to make restitution, make sure the child apoligizes, ect. However, since that isn’t guaranteed to happen…

I would have no problem at all if somebody asked me to pay for something my child damaged or medical bills my child caused. In fact, I would insist on it. And as for somebody else reprimanding my child, I wish more people would. For example (this is from the real life tater-files), TinyTot gets impatient at the bank while I’m trying to get some money and steps (literally) on somebody’s toes. I would much rather the offended party say something like “You know, you stepped on my toes and that hurt and I don’t like it”, than what typically happens when I make TinyTot apoligize which is the person says “Oh, it’s okay”. Um, no it isn’t okay, sure kids will be kids, but us grown-ups gotta be grown-ups and tell them when they are wrong.

Um, I have a point, but right now TinyTot is being a kid so I gotta go. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to reprimand somebody else’s child, but be gentle about it. Best thing, in my experience is to tell them what they did wrong, how it made you feel and what negative consequences will result. And please, don’t say “Oh it’s okay, he’s just a kid”, unless it’s a baby. You may, however flash the parent a sympathetic look when kiddo isn’t looking. :slight_smile:

In my house, I do say something. If a parent doesn’t control their child in my house, they don’t get invited back. Kids will be kids, but if your kids is running through my house, jumping on the furniture and screaming like a banshee, they will have to learn how to behave like a human being before either of you can come back.

If it’s happening in public or in someone elses home, I usually just shoot the parent a dirty look, unless they are touching MY stuff. Then I feel that I have the right to say something.

My kids are generally well behaved when we go out. People often compliment me on that, actually. If they did somehow destroy a laptop, I would definitely be screwed. I don’t have any savings to speak of, and certainly could not hope to pay for the damage.

Ultimately again, it’s going to be the parent’s responsibility. Part of being a good parent is teaching your children to be responsible for their actions. If my child destroys your laptop, whether by accident or on purpose, then of course I’m going to pay for it. Depending on how old my child is at the time, he may be contributing towards this expense (from allowance, odd jobs, etc.).

If my son or daughter are at your house acting like animals, then by all means reprimand them. Give them a time out. And please tell me, so I know how they are behaving.

If we’re out in public, and either one is misbehaving, and I am unaware of it, please tell me. I’m happy to tend to the situation. My son doesn’t talk to strangers, so he’ll probably ignore you if you reprimand him. If an apology is in order, I’ll be sure you get one.

As for other kids in our house, house rules apply. No screaming like maniacs indoors, no throwing stuff, etc. If your child is over, he’ll be told the rules. If he can’t handle it, chances are we’ll be busy when you want to bring him or her over to play. Ironically enough, the boy next door to us is an absolute terror, and refuses to listen to his mother who is pretty immune to the whole situation (“Oh well. Whatever.”). The only time he behaves is when he’s come over to play and my wife’s in charge. Then he’s an angel. Usually…

I have to say, as annoyed as I might get, I’m definitely the kind of person who’d do the “Oh, no, it’s ok” thing that tatertot mentions. In fact, tater (if I may call you tater :slight_smile: ), I almost used that response as a possible option in my list of “appropriate or not” ways to handle things like this. I tend to assume that if a kid is really kicking into Wild and Crazy mode, his or her parents are probably reaching the end of their ropes as well. It would be really hard for me, in the case of the hypothetical laptop, to walk up to you and say, “Your child just damaged my computer, please give me your name and addres so I can send you the repair bill.”

Frankly, though as I said I don’t have kids, I can imagine how hard it would be to be on the receiving end of the request.

I have no problem whatever with anyone who sees my kids misbehaving speaking up to correct them. I’d hope that they would do so in a productive manner, focusing on the inappropriate behavior and its consequences, but I don’t expect random strangers to be parenting experts. Even if the offended party were to rant and rave and berate my kids, I don’t think I’d be able to blame them; it might not make me like them, but being a good parent to my kids is my job, not theirs.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal yet with a situation where my kids damaged someone else’s property (well, except for the wedding rehearsal dinner recently when my son, the ringbearer, threw up all over himself and the chair he was in; right or wrong, I sort of regard a mess of that sort on a hotel ballroom chair as an expected hazard and part of the ordinary run of business for the hotel). If it happens, I will insist on paying for repair or replacement.

I try very hard to keep an eye on what my kids are doing, but there are times when I don’t notice one of them doing something wrong. I truly appreciate other adults telling me when that happens, and if I’m not handy, telling my kid to cut it out. It has also happened that my child is doing something that’s okay by our rules but that another adult assumes she’s not allowed to do. In that case, I take the position that if it’s bugging another adult, she should quit it.

Ultimately, it’s the parents’ responsibility to control and educate their children, but it sure does help if other adults care enough to help them define what’s acceptable in society. That’s what the over-used and much-misunderstood “it takes a village” phrase is really all about.

Of course, if you can’t stand the little monsters, feel free to track me down and make me deal with it. That’s part and parcel of the whole parenting deal, and I’m the one who signed up for it. And of COURSE I’ll pay for repairs to your laptop (that’s what homeowner’s insurance is for).