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am i being a bad parent?

Am I being a bad parent... by giving out to someone else's child?

We put one reader’s playgroup dilemma to a group of Irish mums and dads.

BEING A PARENT is a constant game of ‘am I doing this right?’. There’s no parenting rulebook, meaning we have to blindly figure things out as we go along.

Each week in our new series, Am I Being A Bad Parent?, we hear from a reader who can’t figure out if they’re doing the right thing, or if they’re being downright unreasonable. To get a balanced answer, we put the dilemma to a group of Irish parents, keeping things anonymous to encourage honest answers.

This week’s dilemma

Am I being a bad parent to scold someone else’s child for snatching a toy from my toddler? My friend’s daughter can get a bit ‘grabby’ and took a particular shine to my son’s Paddington teddy in playgroup last week. After she took it twice in a row, I could see the beginnings of a meltdown. I asked her to stop but it came out a bit more sharply than I meant it to and she got quite upset. Her mum was NOT happy. Was I in the wrong?

Our parents’ anonymous responses

You were in the wrong, albeit unintentionally. If it came out sharply – and assuming your child wasn’t hit or poked or hurt in some way – that’s not okay. You should apologise to the other parent if possible. Of course, the girl’s mother should have been keeping a closer eye on her anyway.

Yes, you were in the wrong. Scolding the other child isn’t your job – if anything I would have chatted to the child’s mother/father. I don’t think we have the right to shout at someone else’s child.

Yes, you were definitely in the wrong. Nobody has the right to scold another person’s child. Let the kids sort it out themselves. If that doesn’t work, chat to the child’s parent. I know that’s daunting but it’s (relatively) easier to talk to a thirty-something than a four-year-old in my experience

shutterstock_267674876 Shutterstock / Iakov Filimonov Shutterstock / Iakov Filimonov / Iakov Filimonov

I’m not sure if you were right or wrong. It depends on the scolding. Was it proportionate to how the other child behaved, or did you go too far? Either way, your reaction was human, but not necessarily right.

You were in the right. I’ve had people give out to my kids before. I was always the type to be  apologetic for my kids’ behaviour and was never bothered if people scolded my kids, if it was proportionate.

You were in the right, but you should have been gentler. As the parent you should have explained to the other child why it is not nice to take other peoples’ toys and also to the your own one why it is nice to share. I think all these situations should be dealt with after you count to 10, to avoid sounding unreasonable!

You were in the right, but you could have approached the scolding differently. In this situation, if the kids haven’t solved it themselves by the second ‘grab’, I will usually intervene gently, but try to speak to both children instead of just one. If all else fails, I’ll remove my child from the situation. I’ve found that moving my kid from the situation is the point at which the other parent looks up and realises something has happened.

So what’s the final tally? Was our reader in the wrong?

Yes: 3
Maybe: 1
No: 3

Do you have a parenting issue you need advice on? Do you find yourself asking if you’re being unreasonable? Drop us a line with your reader dilemma on

More: Am I being a bad parent… by not wanting a child with chickenpox in my son’s playgroup?

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