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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?

Jinty64 Mon 04-Nov-13 17:48:45

Ds3 (7) had a huge meltdown in town at the weekend. He has ADHD as does ds1 (18) so I have been there before. It is really rare for him to have such a meltdown but he hasn't adjusted to the hour change yet and I had taken longer than I meant to so he was tired and hungry. I took a couple of minutes to see if I could talk him round, realised it wasn't going to happen and decided to make for the car.

I wasn't aware of anyone standing watching but I did get a few sympathetic smiles and a kind lady held the car park door open so that I could propel him through. I wouldn't mind anyone asking if they could do anything to help although there was nothing anyone could do but, I'm afraid remarks like "respect your mother" or "the policeman will come" would not be welcome and may bring out the worse in me.

One thing I have noticed though, and perhaps it's just chance, is that when ds1 was little and used to tantrum I was often subjected to remarks about "needing a good smack" or "taking a hand off his bottom". That doesn't seem to happen these days.

So in my opinion YWNBU and you did the right thing.

I usually try and catch their eye and say 'is there anything I can do to help or you happier dealing with it on your own?' then offer the help asked for or if not retreat with a sympathetic smile and a 'we've all been there in some shape or form, even most of THEM STARING' ... usually works smile

bababababoom Mon 04-Nov-13 15:34:18

I would want people to just walk on and leave me to deal with it. Any interaction is just distracting me from dealing with my child and giving my child attention for behaving badly.

Jenny70 Mon 04-Nov-13 14:56:03

I usually make a comment, like "it's usually mine doing this type of thing in public" or "at least your day can only get better from here" - something supportive to the mum, but not sounding judgemental, more like "this is ususally me in your shoes, it happens to all of us!" type of thing.

Said it once to a youngish looking mum and she nearly cried, she said she thought it was only her child to tantrum in public, I reassured her my 5yr old (then) was more than capable of screaming in shops, in the street, in park or anywhere! But laughed and said I am always pleased when it's not mine causing a scene, but I have been there many, many times before.

everlong Mon 04-Nov-13 14:54:33

Calling them bastards is a bit extreme and silly.

You didn't help either.

How do you know what all of those people were thinking? You don't.

People might have thought ' look at her waltzing passed not bothered '

Those situations are horrible for everyone especially the poor mum.

MindyWiller Mon 04-Nov-13 14:45:32

Theas and Greensleeves- i actually wouldn't mind someone giving me a little encouraging comment, it's when people start trying to cajole and bribe my son out of his tantrum i get pissed off.

my strategy has always been to ignore his screaming and demanding- he acts up for attention so giving in is the worst thing i can do. i just sit on a bench or stand and wait it out- for some reason this seems to attract brainless busy bodies random people and they start talking to him/offerring sweets if he is good etc.

but a wee "you're doing fine" would make me feel a little better actually.

mydadsdaughter Mon 04-Nov-13 13:19:41

My DS was a nightmare for tantruming, he would bite, kick ,hit and shout and scream usually somewhere VERY public and I used to get all sorts of comments aimed at me, my favourite being " he's got behavioural problems" angry so unless you were a friend ( we lived in a very small town, so most people know each other ) I would not have appreciated any comment however helpful you were trying to be so you were not being unreasonable.

Greensleeves Mon 04-Nov-13 13:10:40

not at all, you did say you were being brutally honest grin and I agree with you that it sounds horribly condescending. Just wish there was a way of giving somebody a metaphorical hand-squeeze without coming across as a nosey old trout!

ZangelbertBingeldac Mon 04-Nov-13 13:04:44

Sorry, greensleeves and Theas - the tone of my post was really narky and really wasn't directed at you, I think I was just projecting about past experiences! Apologies smile

PukingCat Mon 04-Nov-13 13:00:10

NK5BM3 ha ha at chased by a policeman! grin

Idespair Mon 04-Nov-13 12:57:23

I think it was the right thing to do, just to walk past. The toddler was safe because he/she was restrained in the buggy. Provided the mum looked physically able to deal with the older child, there was nothing anyone could do.

Different matter if toddler wandering whilst older child tantrumed. In that case, could offer to hold toddler's hand so doesn't wander off.

Greensleeves Mon 04-Nov-13 12:54:58

well that's why I don't say it! I said I would WANT to say something like that. I know it sounds dreadful.

I would like to find a way of transmitting a bit of a boost to someone in a shitty situation without being patronising or irritating. But I haven't found it.

ZangelbertBingeldac Mon 04-Nov-13 12:52:37

Theas18 and Greensleeves, I'd find you approach a bit patronising, if I'm brutally honest.

I obviously can't speak for anyone else - but I wouldn't appreciate it. If I'm having a bit of a tricky day I don't necessarily need anyone to jump in and highlight it for me.

I especially wouldn't appreciate "you're doing fine" - like I've issued some kind of open invitation to rate my parenting.

But then I'm a grumpy fucker when it comes to busybodies, however well intentioned grin

Greensleeves Mon 04-Nov-13 11:57:31

I usually smile and say something like "count to ten!" or "god it's hard work isn't it"

but I probably come across as a tosser

what I would really like to do is squeeze the poor woman's hand and say "it gets better, you're doing fine" but then I would sound like a fucking Cow&Gate commercial

I don't know what the right thing to do is

Theas18 Mon 04-Nov-13 11:56:17

To all the parents of "melty" toddlers or older SN kids would it help if a middle aged old biddy like me smiled at you and said " how can I help" or would that be the end?

I try to smile encouragingly at mums but am reluctant to "step in" in case it's taken wrongly but would willingly entertain another child/pack shopping/hold the buggy so they can't kick it over etc

kinkyfuckery Mon 04-Nov-13 11:55:17

YWNBU to walk past.

Had it been me, I'd have tried to survey what the mother's plan of action was. In this situation, I often find it easier to make sure we are out of the way of anyone else getting hurt and just try to minimise damage and let DD get the frustration out. It's often the only to do when she's in 'the zone'.

I'd have appreciated being handed a takeaway coffee wink

SunshineMMum Mon 04-Nov-13 11:52:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SunshineMMum Mon 04-Nov-13 11:51:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

McAvity Mon 04-Nov-13 10:02:58

ThisIsMummyPig Mon 04-Nov-13 00:09:50

I have to say I have offered to help a good half dozen times. Often in supermarkets, and often actually when I've had my own DD with me (so I don't look like a child snatcher).

Nobody has ever accepted any help. They have never been rude, but a couple (of Dad's thinking about it) have clearly thought I had judged them and found them to be inadequate.

I would still offer again, but as others have said, the parents tend to want to ride it out themselves.

TaraFey Sun 03-Nov-13 23:59:04

I think you probably did the right thing, from my experience as the mum in a similar position once.

When my daughter was around 4/5 we were travelling home by train (it had already been a stressful weekend as I'd been forced to take her over to my Grandmothers who was at the time in early/mid-stage alzeimers after an incident and we were both tired and frazzled by this point) Anyhow, the train was empty when we got on and I nabbed us a window seat with a table. Then half an hour into the 1hr45 min journey, the train filled to bursting. She didn't want to sit on my knee so I had to try and force her so someone could sit down. It was very squashed, and she lost it. She hit, bit, pulled my hair and screamed the entire way, while everyone crammed in the aisles and in the seats around us stared, tutted and huffed. I was so traumatised by the whole weekend I sat silently crying and let her continue to wack me. I didn't know what else I could do right at that moment, squished into a corner with her jammed between me and the table.

One lady tried talking to her, offered her sweets, made 'we've all been there' comments very publicly and I felt it drew more attention. I'd rather have been ignored. My daughter is usually really placid, well behaved and had very few tantrums apart from this one huge one, so I really struggled not to scream at the whole train for their judgy stares.

I like the discreet 'can I help' suggestion if possible. I do also agree it speaks volumes on you as a person for still thinking about the lady!

MindyWiller Sun 03-Nov-13 23:25:12

i think you did the right thing OP. my son has had some major public meltdowns ( though has never hit me) and as much as i hated being stared at i wanted to punch people who tried to step in and "help". i sae it as interfering and it always seemed to make things worse.

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Sun 03-Nov-13 23:20:38

I always worry my sympathetic look comes across as me looking and smirking. It seems that people like others to react in different ways, hard to know what to do

McAvity Sun 03-Nov-13 23:17:52

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

Correct me if I am wrong, a group of parents of children with SN from Mumsnet were trying to raise awareness of exactly this type of situation and put forward the above as a suggested positive reaction recently?

pumpkinsweetie Sun 03-Nov-13 23:16:41

This sounds like me 3 weeks ago!!
You were not unreasonable to walk past, it's a shame others don't do the same imo, instead of staring, tutting and sometimes even sarky comments.

I applaud you for doing the right thing, anything else would make you a nosey parkersmile

Fwiw people getting involved nicely or otherwise doesn't help the situation as the child feeds of the attention.

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