Kids are special little humans, aren't they? Running around all sticky and snotty, asking you a billion questions until your head pops. With your own kids you can do whatever you wish. You can discipline them. You can tell them to leave you alone. You can praise them when don't deserve it. You can do and say anything. With other people's kids you don't have that range, though, nor should you. However, and even though other people's kids aren't mine to discipline, there are times when I'll speak up and definitely say something about other people's kids.
Whether they want to or not, parents are always modeling behaviors to their children. Our kids are constantly watching us and taking mental notes of how we act and what we say. When we stand up for and to others, our kids know. When we are silent in times of injustice, especially when that injustice is towards our children, we aren't only doing our children a disservice, we are teaching them it's OK when someone mistreats them. We are essentially telling our children they should not stand up for themselves (or someone else) because that may hurt someone's feelings. We are showing them that they should silently accept whatever it is that is happening to them.
Similarly, when we remain silent when we see a child being good, we aren't encouraging confidence and benevolence. When we tell other parents how great their kids are, we foster pride. When parents take pride in their most precious work — raising their children — we all win.
When Your Kid Stands Up For Someone Else
Few things give me more faith in humanity than a child standing up for his or her peer. Recently, I watched an older child stand up for a younger child who was being pushed around by kids her own age. The older child walked up to the younger kids and explained they weren't being nice to the little girl and that they should either all play together or leave each other alone. It was a moment of true human kindness coming from a 7 year old. Parents deserve to hear when their kid does something great.
When Your Kid Is Hurting My Kid
This is a time when I will definitely say something to you about your kid. Or, I may say something to your kid if you are not around. Obviously I won't discipline your child, but if he or she is hurting my child, I will definitely defuse the situation. I encourage my children to stand up for themselves and I promote conflict resolution among their peers. However, if my kid tries to alleviate the situation and your kid does not back down, I will intervene. You should do the same if my child is hurting yours. It takes a village.
When Your Kid Helps My Kid
If my child is struggling with something and your child comes to the rescue, I will thank your kid (and thank you). I love watching kids helping each other without any motivation from adults. Kids who organically know they should help others are the kids who must be praised and recognized.
When Your Kid Is Hurt Or Mistreated
If your kid is ever hurt, it's my obligation to say something to you. I will never close my eyes and pretend I do not see a child who has injured themselves, or dismiss a child that's being mistreated. It a time of injustice, I will stand up for your child just like I would stand up for my own.
When Your Kid Stands Up For Themselves
Standing up for yourself is hard. Most adults have a difficult time standing up for themselves, so for kids that act is even more intimidating. However, if your kid feels mistreated and I witness your kid defending themselves and taking charge of the situation, I will definitely tell you. And when I tell you, I hope you are so, so proud.
When Your Kid Forces Their Affection
My daughter recently came home and said a boy on the bus is trying to kiss girls. Now, we are talking a 7 year old here, and while that may not seem like a big deal to some parents, that is a huge deal to me. It is not "cute" when a boy forces his affection onto a girl. It's not cute at 7 and it's definitely not cute later in life. So, if I find out your child tries to kiss or hug mine, guess what, I'm saying something to you.
When Your Kid Is About To Do Something Dangerous
If I see your kid is about to do something potentially harmful to either themselves or someone else, I will speak up. However, if that situation is imminent and there is no time to even warn you, I will step in and remove your child from danger.
When I Feel Immense Affection For Your Kid
It's not often that I like someone else's child. Even my own are hard to deal with, at times. However, if your kid is a generally great little human, I will tell you and I will tell you often. Parenting is tough, because while we all want our kids to be good humans, we also want them to be able to be resilient and to be able to handle themselves in various situations. If other adults confirm that my kid is being good, in a way that reaffirms all the struggles I face in parenting. Unfortunately, some of our validation often comes from other parents, and I am a huge advocate in "catching" kids being good and reporting their goodness to their parents.