To think these are harsh things to say to a 4year old

(74 Posts)
1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:32:42

I'm probably going to be told I'm a wimp but I was a bit taken aback to hear an acquaintance saying to her DD that she was naughty and would be taken away by the police and put in a children's home, do I need to get a grip??

missuswife Wed 26-Jun-13 13:34:32

YANBU. It is mean and also the child will learn that she's not going to follow through. She needs to set consequences she can enforce.

happystory Wed 26-Jun-13 13:34:44

Horrible. I heard a 'friend' say this to her ds once, it was about 15 years ago but I have never forgotten it

Quangle Wed 26-Jun-13 13:34:50

No she does. shock

missuswife Wed 26-Jun-13 13:35:13

YANBU. It is mean and also the child will learn that she's not going to follow through. She needs to set consequences she can enforce.

jacks365 Wed 26-Jun-13 13:35:40

Yanbu. I'm with you on this one I hate it. My daughter is never naughty but sometimes her behaviour is.

TVTonight Wed 26-Jun-13 13:36:57

No, those things are really fucking horrible.

I personally hate hearing parents say this because (a) kids find so distressing (b) it's a lie and demonstrates that parents will lie/talk shit to their kids (c) where is your integrity?

For me it is a reason to distance myself from someone.

That's horrible. And lazy scaremongering parenting.

FeckOffCup Wed 26-Jun-13 13:37:29

YANBU I remember my mum saying to me at about that age that if I didn't stop bickering with my brother she would toss a coin to see which of us was going to the children's home. I totally believed she meant it at the time and it was like a punch in the gut.

phantomnamechanger Wed 26-Jun-13 13:38:30

Friend is probably repeating the same kind of parenting she had as a child, however, that does not mean it's not very wrong indeed IMO. And yes, when the child is a bit older it gives no meaning to parental punishment and consequence if this obviously is never followed through. While still so young and not really understanding this is in fact just a silly lie, they could well live in fear, and become phobic of policemen and authority figures - who are being shown as the bad guys, when the parent is the bad guy in this case!

TeamEdward Wed 26-Jun-13 13:38:46


Although I have told DS2 that if he doesn't put his seatbelt on a police constable might come and tell Mummy off...

aderynlas Wed 26-Jun-13 13:39:18

That's a horrible thing to say to a child. Not a good idea to make them afraid of policemen at such a young age either.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:39:30

YY to that jacks365, My first DD is v sensitive and if I said I was sending her away she'd be up all night worrying, I'm a bit wussy though so I wasn't sure about this one!

thebody Wed 26-Jun-13 13:40:38

I once had a friend who packed a case while her child was weeping saying she was sending him to the naughty boys home.

We almost had a physical fight over it and quarrelled for life.

It's vile and cruel.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 26-Jun-13 13:40:48

TeamEdward but that's the truth. Driver responsible for minors wearing seatbelts.

cozietoesie Wed 26-Jun-13 13:42:08

My Mum said that to me more or less when we passed the local 'secure school' - as it was then. I never forgave her.

Doedeer Wed 26-Jun-13 13:42:19

No, it's a horrible thing to say.

It was DM's favourite threat and I believe it has contributed to my feeling of being disposable to everyone. Until DD was born I had the same recurring dream that DH left me and my family disowned me and I genuinely think it was due to DM's attitude towards me.

Now DD is here I barely give 2 shits about anything as long as she's ok.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:42:34

That's fair enough though TeamEdward as that is not a lie

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:43:53

God thebody that's awful, the person that said it seems to pride herself on no nonsense parenting

TeamEdward Wed 26-Jun-13 13:44:12

Scared the bejesus out of him though! Didn't realise what an effect it would have on him.

nenevomito Wed 26-Jun-13 13:45:12

Totally. I always tell mine I'm going to take them back to the hospital. At least they understand what one of those is.

YANBU, I get so annoyed with parents who threaten things that they have no intention of following through. Even when they say things like "if you don't behave I'm going to take you home", but to threaten a child with being sent away is cruel, and to make a child afraid of police is, imo, irresponsible. If my child ever got lost or was in trouble, and for some reason I wasn't there/ couldn't help, I want them to know that they can turn to the police for help, not be afraid that they will be spirited away from me. Some people really are stupid - and i don't say that lightly sad

imnotmymum Wed 26-Jun-13 13:45:52

I do threaten the dog frequently with Battersea dogs home...not the kids though.
I have said the seatbelt thing too ...

Maybe she was worn down to the sure we all say things ocassionally we don't actually mean.

I once threatened to leave DS is tesco.....I actually meant it at the time but luckily my dad was there as well to talk sense into me smile

Jacksterbear Wed 26-Jun-13 13:52:18

In desperation I once told ds that he had to go to school or the police would come and put mummy in prison. I know now that I couldn't really have said anything worse to a small child whose school refusal was caused by massive anxiety. sad angry <- at self.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:52:29

She was laughing about it afterwards. Every little helps!

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 13:53:54

But at least you have an insight that what you said was wrong Jacksterbear

Jacksterbear Wed 26-Jun-13 14:09:11

Maybe your friend was mortified by what she'd said and was laughing to try to cover up her embarrassment, 1veryhungrycaterpillar <clutches at straws>. Or maybe not!

Belchica Wed 26-Jun-13 14:17:25

YANBU. My mum knew we used to run and hide on the stairs within earshot of the phone when we were naughty. She would sometimes pick up the phone 'Hello, is that the orphanage? I have some naughty children here, please come and take them away'. i would practically break my neck to get to her, say sorry and make it stop. I have never forgotten the fear I felt with this threat constanty looming throughout my childhood. But I don't think it stopped me misbehaving on the odd occasion. I will NEVER resort to this with my DC.

Maybe your friend is just worn down by a child who despite her best efforts just does not do as she's told? It's not move granted but sure we can all sympathise a bit with how much children can push it and apparent lack of care about anything. Unless she's regularly nasty to her child and is otherwise a good parent maybe a bit less judgement?

And I have already said it wasn't a nice thing to say. But i bet most of us have ashamedly said something we didn't mean.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 15:09:36

It just seems like a pattern of behaviour from this person but you are right in the respect that everyone has a snapping point, I'd have more sympathy and less judgement if she seemed to care about it but as I said she laughs and tells others about it like its amusing

AnyFucker Wed 26-Jun-13 15:11:36


Soontobemama Wed 26-Jun-13 15:17:47

My mum used to do to me what the body's friend did and it has scarred me as pathetic as it may sound now that I'm a grown adult.

bettycocker Wed 26-Jun-13 15:30:39

It's the kind of thing that many of our parents said to us as children. That doesn't make it right though. Times change.

Purple2012 Wed 26-Jun-13 15:37:38

I wouldn't say that to a child. I would threaten and follow through on going home if they don't behave though.

My nephew can be naughty. On the odd occasion when he has popped into see me at work (police station) he goes really quiet. I think it's because he knows police arrest baddies and he is naughty quite a lot. He has never been told that police will take him away. He is the same when he visits santa. Worried he wilp get told off as santa knows everything.

Didactylos Wed 26-Jun-13 15:38:10

thinking of this The Man

My dad was a Police officer and he once said he was sad to hear parents use him as the boogy man. Now I have dc's of my own I am teaching them that the police are there to help them. If they get lost or in trouble they should find the police or get someone to get the police.

I was walking through our local park a couple of weeks ago and saw 2 police officers and as talking to DS, we noticed them and he said look mummy a police man, I asked him what the police did and he said thy keep me safe if I lose you. The police man heard this and came over and spoke to DS, made a real fuss of him. So my DS will now think of them as a safe person thanks to my dad making one little comment when I was a little girl.

expectingtoomuch Wed 26-Jun-13 15:59:04

My exh told my four year old that because mummy had left him statistics showed she would end up in prison as an adult. She is now scared witless of police and police vehicles to the point at a community fun day she would not get in the front of the vehicle nor go near them.

MrsWolowitz Wed 26-Jun-13 16:04:50

What Wheresmycaffienedrip said.

Great post.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 17:56:00

I'd agree too if I didn't know the woman in question

Oblomov Wed 26-Jun-13 18:08:59

oh purlease.
not every child is scared witless.
My dh says tells the buys that they are so naughty that he is going to put them in a box and ship them to china.
They have been to dh's work. They were put in a box full of polysterine balls. They have seen things being shipped to china. They now beg to be sent.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 18:12:45

Is he saying it in anger though Oblomov?

Oblomov Wed 26-Jun-13 18:19:57

yes caterpliiar he does. he is very calm, does not raise his voice. But he lets them know that he is most cross.

JazzDalek Wed 26-Jun-13 19:32:51

My dad used to threaten to sell us to the gypsies blush but we never thought he was serious, at least I didn't, would have to ask my siblings to be sure grin

But if the child believes it, yes, it's mean sad

Oblomov Wed 26-Jun-13 20:01:10

I think some of you are really woos'ey.
My boys have total respect for the police. I have told them that they have to wear thier sealtbeits , becuase it is the law. And if, god forbid,a policeman ever saw them , without it, hew would tell them off, very strongly. Because it is wrong. and it is the law.

All of the above is TRUE.

Sam937 Wed 26-Jun-13 20:24:15

Hide some pills in her LF bed and call the cops

Happiestinwellybobs Wed 26-Jun-13 20:30:53

I told DD (2) the other day, that if she kept on taking her shoes off and flinging them everywhere, then the policeman (stood near us) would come and tell her off blush . I was told off by a woman who heard me... And felt so bad. When a policeman came to our house this weekend (was involved in accident; nothing dodgy), I made a concerted effort to make her see that he was not scary.

I sometimes think, especially when we are tired and frustrated that things come out of our mouths without thinking. That being said, I would never say anything about shipping DD off to a childrens home.

Oblomov Wed 26-Jun-13 20:35:15

I think people are over-exagerating the damage that references to childrens home/police/china has.

KittensoftPuppydog Wed 26-Jun-13 20:39:24

No oblomov, they're not.

Oblomov Wed 26-Jun-13 20:40:46

Kitten, I disagree.

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 26-Jun-13 20:42:05

My mum used to tell me that she was going to take me back to the baby shop and swap me for a better one.

I think she was joking. She never followed it through, anyway.

Last week I told my then-4yo if he didn't stop X I would throw him out of the window. He cried hmm so I had to explain that it was a joke.

I agree with pps that you should only threaten what you are prepared to carry out although I had worked out which window.

KittensoftPuppydog Wed 26-Jun-13 20:47:44

Some children believe their parents. Some mothers carry out this threat. And the children know always that it can happen again.

stiffstink Wed 26-Jun-13 20:48:26

We were regularly told we'd be taken to see the priest!

DingbatsFur Wed 26-Jun-13 20:50:35

I once told my Ds after a very very long day when He had behaved exceedingly badly all day and I had really had enough that I was considering bringing him to the police station so they could find him a new family.
Frankly after the day I'd had with him I was prepared to follow it through!
We all have bad days.&#128148;

AnyFucker Wed 26-Jun-13 21:10:19

Surely this is about context

A child that feels loved, utterly secure and happy with their place in the world is going to go along with a "joke" like this, when it is made abundantly clear that is precisely what it is. Not a problem.

Another child, less secure, perhaps not quite so sure of where they stand, one that has to work harder on their self esteem, who perhaps has been the brunt of "jokes" like this repeatedly with just that little edge of unmistakeable menace.. ? Could be a problem.

FreudiansSlipper Wed 26-Jun-13 21:22:00

what a horrible and stupid thing to say

ds was playing up once and a police car with sirens on passed my friend (who does not have children) said you better be good i think they may be coming to take you away. tbh it did not bother him but i did tell her never to day such a stupid thing again

lets hope it was a one off she was just very frusted

AnyFucker Wed 26-Jun-13 21:24:37

btw, I have never said any of those idiotic threats, and if DH did he would get short shrift

my IL's have tried it though

IsThatTrue Wed 26-Jun-13 21:38:55

YANBU although my children think they will be arrested rather than me if they don't wear their seatbelts.

McNewPants2013 Wed 26-Jun-13 21:51:03

the police are there to keep people safe, that does mean they take people not following the law into the police station.

I have told my children countless times that the police are there if you are lost but when DS threw a small stone at a car I told him the police could come and get him.

JoyceDivision Wed 26-Jun-13 21:59:39

I was taking the dcs hoime oneday after school and bringing a friend home. They were laughing and shouting so loudly that a policecar parked nearby saw us, a police lady came out and cheerfully wandered over, said 'My word you are very loud!'and I have never seen 3 children besilnced and freeze so quickly!

She was loveley and chatted to them but the fact a police lady had come to talk to them with no mum involvement totally frozethem!!

AnyFucker Wed 26-Jun-13 22:05:56

I think that parents that deliberately make their children afraid of the police are very silly indeed


Ive said things to my two.

Ive told them to get their shoes on, we are off to the mummy shop as obviously they dont like theirs so lets get a new one.

Ive knocked on the front door and pretended to be a policeman coming to ask if there were any naughty children still out of their beds.

Lots of stuff. But, my kids were never that bothered, they grin and say dont be stupid, you are stuck with us hmm
I dont think Ive fucked them up too badly yet. Give me time though, give me time wink

Minshu Wed 26-Jun-13 22:10:21

I've never threatened DD with the police, but she's brought the idea he with her from friends at nursery. She's normally pretty well-behaved, so not worried for herself but quite matter of fact about her naughty friends getting arrested! confused

Cat98 Wed 26-Jun-13 22:10:41

I don't make ds afraid of the police but I have told him mummy will get in trouble with the police if he undoes his seatbelt in the car (he went through a phase of this when he was 4). This is true though isn't it?!

With regards to the children's home threats, I know loads of people who use this. It always made me a bit uncomfortable, I'm quite glad you lot agree!

chicaguapa Wed 26-Jun-13 22:10:45

I've told DC that if it was allowed I'd put them on eBay. They do know I'm joking though.

But DC should not be made to feel afraid of the police. I've heard people make stupid comments like that and think it's ignorant.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Wed 26-Jun-13 22:11:49

I'm starting to think it must depend on the child and how it is said etc, saying that a friend of mine used to be told that the rag and bone man would take her away and she was terrified she also knew she was adopted (her parents adored her) and felt less secure because of it, I'm sure they would have teased her the same way if she'd been born to them but she was too little to get that

AllDirections Wed 26-Jun-13 22:35:09

It must be quite a common saying where I live because last year a PCSO came into my DD's school and told the class (reception) that the police WOULDN'T be taking any of them away grin

Clawdy Wed 26-Jun-13 22:49:18

It's got to be wrong to make children think the police are to be feared. But my friend's mum used to say something much worse. She said "You're not really my little girl,your mum's in prison and if you're naughty she'll come and take you back." Can you imagine saying that to a child? sad

McGeeDiNozzo Thu 27-Jun-13 06:06:26

I am taking the view that this remark must have been made in jest as no sensible adult would have used it as part of a workable disciplinary strategy.

But even in jest it's only appropriate if you have a child who is bright enough to understand that you are joking, and that your comment means 'I know you are being naughty and my patience is running thin, though for the moment I remain well-disposed towards you; I will begin threatening actual sanctions very soon'. I think at 4 this level of understanding of context would have been beyond me, but maybe not others.

I think children are much more resilient than they are made out to be on MN sometimes. Hang on, DD's just woken up...

Oblomov Thu 27-Jun-13 07:32:06

"Right thats' it, I'm going to put you on e-bay, 'child for sale' 99p , starting bid"
"what if no one bids"
"erm, erm, well , erm , then its off to the car boot". " Change all that, I'm going to put myself up for sale". "Far easier".

Oblomov Thu 27-Jun-13 07:36:55

"No ones gonna bid for you mum"
"how rude. I'm lovely. Of course they will. Some rich family from Barbados. Thats's it. I'm off"

<<off out the door, but instead of Barbados, is actually only off to sainsbury's to continue the unappreciated drudgery of another supermarket shop>>

Idocrazythings Thu 27-Jun-13 08:04:26

I once took dd to the police station for a chat to a police man (after many threats) about seatbelts as she would not keep it on.

It didn't work.

pinkballetflats Thu 27-Jun-13 10:32:48

YANBU. What is this kiddo going to learn from this incident that will help her learn to understand the world around her and his she fits into it? Lazy parenting. Hope its a one off.

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