Can you tell off someone else's child?

Monty Dimond


Is it ever appropriate to tell off someone else’s child? This was the question I asked myself this week.

I witnessed a really uncomfortable situation involving a child being berated by someone who was not his parent. Then, only a few days later, I was shocked to find myself scolding a mini-human that did not belong to me.

The first situation took place in a lingerie shop. A little boy, about three years old, was making friends with a mannequin and her pretty lacy bra, while his mum perused the store. He was pulling and poking at things and having a jolly good old time. When the sales assistant spotted the boy she tersely yelled at him across the shop, “We don’t touch that, little boy”. He promptly recoiled his hands and started to cry.

His mother walked over to him while firmly informing the sales assistant not to discipline her child. The altercation quickly escalated into a ‘yell off’ between the women over the little boy’s curiosity for mannequin breasticles.

After flinging insults at each other for a couple of minutes, the mother stormed out of the store with her son dragging behind her. I crept out from behind the ‘Loveable’ underwear range (which provided a perfect hiding/viewing place) and walked out of the shop… sans new bra.

I felt a bit icky about the whole thing. It’s fair enough the sales assistant didn’t want the kid to play with her display, but did that give her the right to tell him off? Surely the right thing to do was simply to alert his mother and let her handle it? What sort of a grumpster yells at a kid just for touching something?!

A few days after witnessing The Great Battle of Victoria Secrets, I walked straight into another awkward scenario however this time I was the grumpster.

It happened at a friend’s place. While my little boy was lying on the floor sucking on his feet (gifted child), my friend’s little boy was playing near him. All of a sudden a high-pitched screech of pain left my baby’s mouth. I bolted over to the scene of the crime. My friend’s little boy looked up at me with a block in his hand and a look on his face that screamed GUILTY.


I glared down at him and said in an angry and raised voice “WHAT. DID. YOU. DO?” I scooped up my son but immediately began to feel uncomfortable that I had just told off my friend’s child. Luckily, my friend was more concerned about my baby than anything else and we both proceeded to apologise profusely to each other.

Without stopping to think, I had just turned into a fiercely protective mother hen giving a four-year-old her best death stare.

On the drive home that night, I was shocked to realise this wasn’t the first time I had gotten a bit lippy with other peoples’ children. There was the time I was at the movies and a kid sitting behind me decided to play ‘Fruit Ninja’ on his iPhone… he copped it.

Then there was the time I was nannying for a family and their little darling announced in the supermarket at the top of her voice, “You’re just like my Mum… but fatter”. …I gained immense pleasure in denying her a snickers bar.

Then there was the time last week when the next door neighbour’s daughter decided to blast One Direction at 8am on Sunday morning. I’m into Harry and Niall as much as the next kid, just not while I’m eating my breakkie eggs. I’m pretty sure I am now referred to as ‘that crazy woman who lives in our street’.

They say it takes a village to raise a child…

Well surely not all the children in that village were perfect little angels all the time? Are we so protective of our offspring that we won’t allow any other adult to help them learn the difference between right and wrong?

Surely it’s not a big deal to discipline other peoples’ children, unless of course the child in question is yours, and the other people ….. is you.

Katie “Monty” Dimond is a broadcaster and media personality. She has appeared on Channel Ten, Channel Nine, and Nova FM. She is currently busy being a full time Mum and loving it!

Have you ever told off someone else’s child? HAVE YOU WANTED TO?

You can read this guide to dealing with someone else’s kid over at our sister site, iVillage.