Thursday, January 26, 2012

Intervening in temper tantrums

Presented for discussion, this tale from the Daily Mail about a woman intervening against a mother during a temper tantrum.  A few years ago, I saw a similar event when a woman took a mother to task for yelling at her children, only the woman hadn't seen what had gotten the mother so worked up a block back--her 4-ish year old had bolted away from her onto the King's Road.  I tried to comfort the mother, but she was too stung to accept any help.

I started thinking that I've not seen this sort of thing in the US, but I have.
In the US, however, women tend to intervene to distract the children. For instance, if the same fact pattern from the Daily Mail played out on a Houston school run, the intervening woman would likely start doing something to get the child to follow her, or ask a question, or introducing her dog.  That is, the woman would attempt to distract the child from the battle of wills with the mother.  Sometimes that breaks the stalemate, and gives the mother a chance to count to 10.  I've seen this play out often in grocery checkout lines.  I myself have started a fair share of conversations with children upset over impulse rack denials.

In keeping with intervening through the children, American mothers are far more likely than British mothers to scold a misbehaving child, not their own, on a playground.  (An example not precisely on point as the mom gave instruction to her own child about a bully, but illustrative.) It isn't as accepted as it used to be, but is still accepted.  Among friends it is almost expected; a child at your house is treated as one of your children, up to the need of major discipline, when you simply call the other mother to come get her child.  This was one of those self-selecting traits of Hill House.  Most of us expat moms had this attitude even though it was not the norm in London.

Thoughts, anyone?


edgeofthesandbox said...

I find that ignoring tantrums works best with my children and generally try to stay out of other people's business.

AHLondon said...

Absolutely, ignoring tantrums is best, but it isn't always an option. If somebody in CA did intervene, what would that look like? Or do they just not do it there? Also, your kids are young, right? At some point playmates start to happen without parents in tow. Sometimes you have to discipline someone else's kid, and there are many small offenses that must be addressed that don't warrant a call to the parent to pick up the kid.

Anonymous said...

Yes, when non family member intervention happens around here, it's always to destruct the child... although I don't think it happens often. Usually we just ignore the problem kid.
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Edge of the Sandbox