To have walked past this woman without doing anything?

(57 Posts)
LiegeAndLief Sat 02-Nov-13 22:39:49

I really think I might have been, but I don't know what I should have done.

Was walking down a pedestrianised shopping street today and there was a lady at the far end with a toddler in pushchair and a child about 5 or 6 ish having an absolute meltdown, shouting at her and repeatedly thwacking her really hard. There were a good 10 people on the street and every one of them hd stopped dead to stare at the poor woman. I was the only person moving on the street! Lots of tutting and whispering going on.

I really wanted to tell all the staring people they were bastards, but I'm a bit timid and I didn't know what to say. I really wanted to offer some support to the mum and tell her all the staring people were bastards, but I didn't know how. I thought about asking her if I could do anything to help, but I was worried that would sound like I thought she wasn't coping and she would be offended. So I just walked past. And have felt awful about it ever since.

What is the right thing to do in this situation?

suebfg Sat 02-Nov-13 22:44:53

I would probably have asked the lady if she was OK or made some other comment in support.

janey68 Sat 02-Nov-13 22:48:03

I don't think telling her the people who were looking at her are bastards would have made her feel any better, frankly.
It sounds pretty awful that the child was physically hitting her like that, but I dont really know what you could have done to help the situation. A child who is behaving in such an extreme way ( whether they have SN or not ) is unlikely to respond any better to a stranger, and I'm not sure the mother would have felt any better to have someone intervene either

DontSweatTheSmallStuff Sat 02-Nov-13 22:48:14

It's a difficult one.

Some people would really appreciate you stopping to offer help, some wouldn't and might tell you to f off and mind your own business.

Personally I would be really grateful if someone stopped to offer help and give the starers and the cat's bum face woman in Clarks when ds1 melted down over new shoes a mouthful.

If it ever happens again you could offer help which may be gratefully recieved and if it isn't then at least you know you tried. smile

Finola1step Sat 02-Nov-13 22:48:21

Poor woman. I think I would have given the starers my very own death stare. Not sure if you could have done much for the mum though.

paperdress Sat 02-Nov-13 22:49:17

Ermmm...im sorry to say that i think YWBU, yes.
When kids have a public meltdown its always so nice to know that some of the observers are sympathetic and not judging you. I wouldnt have offered her help necessarily but just said something to indicate that you recognised the shitness of her situation and that she has a comrade in the field!
(But it sounds like you're kicking yourself cause you know this anyway...!)

headinhands Sat 02-Nov-13 22:50:51

I know what you mean op. Maybe when in this situation we could start with a 'it's not that I think you need any help but I was wondering if there was anything I could do' or something? Sounds a bit long winded though doesn't it.

CrapBag Sat 02-Nov-13 22:51:02

I wouldn't have said anything, what can you really do to help. But I would have felt bad like you, you feel like you want to offer some sympathy but not everyone will take it well.

I have witnessed something similar, a woman and child walking in the street recently, he was shouting and really thumping and headbutting her, but he was older, about 9-10 I would say. Clearly he had SN. I just walked on and tried to ignore it. I'm sure they don't need people stopping and staring.

EweHaveGoatToBeKiddin Sat 02-Nov-13 22:51:15

I've been the mum in this situation.

The absolute worst thing is when you get strangers interfering by addressing 5yo dd with comments like, "Don't do that or the policeman will come." "Don't do that to your mummy or she'll not cook you dinner." "Be a big girl now, come on."

The second worst thing is people stopping, staring, hissing, whispering ...

TBH i've never had any other reaction apart from these two.

In an ideal world, I suppose I'd like someone to address me - not dd - and ask me quietly if I was okay and if there's anything they could do to help. I'd likely just assure them I was fine and kindly refuse their help, but that comment alone would make me feel a bit better.

The second best thing would be for people just to walk on by and ignore the whole situation.

You did fine, IMO. smile

LiegeAndLief Sat 02-Nov-13 22:52:53

Yeah Janey I guess that's the conclusion I came to which is why I didn't do anything.

She must have bee aware that lots of people were staring disapprovingly - I just wanted her to know that at least one person was feeling sympathetic and angry on her behalf!

I don't think it really matters whether the child had SN or not, although it did look like a pretty extreme meltdown for an NT child of that age.it was still really shitty of the bystanders. I've seen plenty of tantrums in supermarkets etc (some of them by my own dc!) but never such blatant staring.

DontSweatTheSmallStuff Sat 02-Nov-13 22:53:28

Probably the best help in this sort of situation would be to look after/entertain the toddler in some way while mum dealt with the meltdown.

Agree that calling them bastards probably wouldn't help but you could suggest they either help or mind their own business and get lost

SeaSickSal Sat 02-Nov-13 22:53:54

Um, you were looking too. Unless you are a mind reader how do you know they were not thinking the same thing.

Most parents deal with this kind of melt down at some point. We deal with it.

I would find someone interfering and assuming I couldn't deal with my own child far more offensive.

If you meet their eye smile and look sympathetic, but don't interfere.

ZangelbertBingeldac Sat 02-Nov-13 22:54:16

I think you took the path of least offence, which is perfectly ok.

My three year old can be very difficult to take out <understatement> and although she doesn't hit she runs away/screams/tantrums very visibly in front of other people.

I'm used to it, I can deal with it. I don't seek eye contact with anyone else when it happens so tutting and cats bum faces would go over my head.

I HAVE had a couple of 'helpful' people attempt to intervene at times, and frankly, it doesn't help because my 3 year old burns herself out very quickly and then aquiesces (sp?) and then we get on with our day. So people busying over with that whole kind of 'can I help???' kind of thing does annoy me and I wish they'd stay out of it, tbh.

AmeliaToppingLovesShopping Sat 02-Nov-13 22:59:25

A few months ago my DD2, nearly 5, had a huge meltdown at the checkout in Lidl. She was screaming and I think hitting me, though not hard enough to hurt. I heard a man at the till comment on how it was hurting his ears. I was so stressed that I actually started to cry as I tried to pack my shopping.

A lovely older couple came over and spoke to all 3 of the DDs and it did really help. I was able to pack and DD2 calmed down. I was so thankful to them as they were completely non-judgemental and when I kept saying thank you they said they had it with their DC and are now getting it with their DGC.

I'm not sure what I would do if I saw someone in the same situation but hope I would help, it is difficult though so don't beat yourself up about it.

LiegeAndLief Sat 02-Nov-13 23:00:25

Honestly SeaSick it was not the same thing! I could see her because she was in my line of vision and I had to walk right past her. The rest of the people in the street had stopped to look and I could hear what they were saying as I walked past them.

If it hadn't been for the staring people, actually, I wouldn't have thought to say anything to her. I'm sure she knew her child and would manage just fine. I was just horrified by how rude they were and wanted to offer some kind of support.

wamabama Sun 03-Nov-13 07:32:28

I think you handled it best. It's a tough one because it's difficult to know when parents would appreciate you helping or not. Some parents would want you to fuck off and leave them to it and others would be really grateful.

What is not helpful, ever, is the people who tut, stare or make snidey comments. I don't see what runs through their minds to do it tbh, it's not remotely helpful. We've had a mixed bag of people reacting to our DC having tantrums. Some people (pretty much always old people) will come over and smile and tell us how their DC were like that or how awful it is when they do it and you feel helpless or they will try and talk to the DC to get them to calm down etc. I think it's lovely. Others will just smile as they walk by which is also nice, just to let you know they're not judging really and sympathise. Then you get others who tut, stare or mutter under their breath. Some even pull horrible faces and complain how it's hurting their ears. What makes them think that is in any way going to be helpful? It just adds to your stress tenfold.

I think you did ok especially by not joining in with the starers. I'm sure she thought more about and was irritated with them rather than you.

ZombieMojaveWonderer Sun 03-Nov-13 08:43:48

My daughter with ASD often has meltdowns and the worst thing people can do is stop and stare and make rude comments about my daughter being naughty. I think just walking past and ignoring was the best thing tbh op because drawing attention to whats happening can actually just make it worse for the poor parent.

waikikamookau Sun 03-Nov-13 08:49:22

an old lady gave my dd a real telling off when she was misbehaving, and i was grateful tbh, it did the trick grin

waikikamookau Sun 03-Nov-13 08:51:52

The absolute worst thing is when you get strangers interfering by addressing 5yo dd with comments like, "Don't do that or the policeman will come." "Don't do that to your mummy or she'll not cook you dinner." "Be a big girl now, come on."

i wouldnt find that annoying at all. it is an outside distraction

MadeOfStarDust Sun 03-Nov-13 08:56:18

I would look like I was staring .... sorry -

I have severe anxiety issues myself and witnessing a confrontation like that would put me in full "rabbit in the headlights mode"... I know I have nothing to worry about, I know it is a child, some adults have "issues" too......

EweHaveGoatToBeKiddin Sun 03-Nov-13 09:42:10

i wouldnt find that annoying at all. it is an outside distraction

These types of comments, or even a stranger talking to dd about anything, while she's having a meltdown have no positive effect on her at all. She doesn't take in their words. She just sees a stranger being in her face, and her personal space being invaded. This makes her even more stressed and likely to lash out at me.

gemmal88 Sun 03-Nov-13 10:40:33

I like it when a fellow parent gives me a smile as if "I'm glad it's not me this time" when my daughter is freaking out.

I'd be pissed off if someone tried to intervene. When my daughter was a tiny tot we were waiting to go on a delayed flight she was hungry and kicking off. I wanted to wait until we were in seats before breast feeding as I was really unconfident first time round. Some old bint came over giving it "awww she must be hungry" and proceeded to put her finger in my baby's mouth. I swiped her hand away - how grim!

As for the starers - they can fuck off, as if their kids are angels!

Coconutty Sun 03-Nov-13 10:45:37

I sometimes walk past and say, "Been there, done that. It does get better"

spongebob13 Sun 03-Nov-13 10:46:47

maybe she wasn't to be pitied or made feel better. she was obviously in control (if I saw the mum having a melt down might be different) and probably waiting to deal with it when she got home or to the car. for eg cant execute a naughty step on a street. maybe she didn't notice the stares I wouldn't. id be so in "your not getting your way" mode I would be stoney face. she sounded like she was handling it herself.

now if the mum herself was distressed looking I might say something of support.

LimitedEditionLady Sun 03-Nov-13 20:34:46

When we were on holiday we went to a restaurant for dinner and ds wasnt used to the situation so spent a long time screaking and dragging my arm as he wanted to go.i thought id never eat my food and it was embarassing in a quiet place.An older couple started talking to him and he instantly calmed down and sat with them just near us.It was such a relief and such a kind thing to do and such a novelty for someone to do that for a stranger.

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