I have a question for you. When is it okay to step in and stop another child from hurting yours? Is it at the first sign of trouble? Or is it when you have given the other parent a decent enough chance to take control and you can stand it no longer? Or is it not at all?
I ask because I was faced with just such a dilemma last week at one of our regular playgroups. Actually, it was only after the event that I did any of the above soul searching because, as it turns out, when I saw the little man was about to be set upon, I got stuck in in a heartbeat. And it rather took me by surprise.
So here is what happened. I was watching the little man sitting happily on the floor beating out some notes on a xylophone. In fact, I was hovering close by as he had muscled in on the instrument while another boy was playing it and I was ready to intervene if there were any tears. Surprisingly the other boy had generously given up half his toy to my son and they were rather touchingly making music together. As I looked on, a third tiny fella came up behind the little man with a cymbal in each hand, raised them aloft and was in the process of crashing them down onto his head when, seeing what was about to happen, I threw myself forward and caught him by both arms.
It stopped the assault and the little man carried on making music with his new buddy completely oblivious to the danger I had just diverted but I was left a bit shocked. What would his mother think?
I immediately let go - I was in the middle of a large circle of other mums and dads and I dread to think what they thought - and my first reaction was to look for her. She was quickly on the scene (although being heavily pregnant she wasn't as quick as me) and far from being annoyed, she was actually relieved I had stepped in. Her son is a bit of tearaway at times and I could see she was tiring of chasing him around trying to head off disaster. In fact, she wished more parents would do the same. "I think they would let him run in front of a car rather than stop him" she told me.
While it felt right to stop my child from getting hurt, I did worry what others thought and I certainly wouldn't dream of disciplining anyone other than my own (besides a gentle, "it's nice to share" or, "perhaps wait until it's your turn" and even then I would do it in a whisper so no adults could hear).
So was I in the right? Would you do the same? I'd love to know.