Featured Journal Kids Motherhood

To the stranger who scolded my 6 year old daughter

Written by Leslie Means

Being a parent is tough work, rewarding, but tough.  If you’re a parent, you know all about this.  Kids spill, make noise, cry, yell and generally have a difficult time listening to instructions.  They do learn eventually to do all the things adults want them to do.  But it takes time.  Most kids like to just be kids, especially when they’re 6.

My girls are ages 6 and 4.  They’re doing such a good job following instructions and listening in school.  They are polite and kind to their peers.  While I would like to take credit for their overall awesomeness, I know I can’t.  They have positive teachers and daycare providers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends and grandparents all helping them learn right from wrong in this world. 

They are lucky little girls.

Last week my little family attended a local Christmas concert.  It was a casual event full of kids and adults of all ages.  Half way through the event my husband had to leave, which meant I was left alone with two sugar-filled little girls.  Not long after he left, my 6 year old, Ella started to get fidgety.  She stood up and back down again.  Her chair made noises, her coat and hat and every little movement seemed to make noises, too.  I was gently telling her to be quiet but her sugar cookie high was starting to take effect.


After a few minutes a stranger leaned over and scolded my child.  She used words like, “Little girl sit in your seat.  Stop making noise.  Be quiet!” 

It may Ella shrink.  It made me furious. 

I turned around to glare at the woman again and again but the lights were off and I couldn’t see her face.  I sat through the happy song full of Christmas cheer while the hairs on my neck began to rise.  There was even a split second where I felt like biting this woman.  I truly felt like a mama bear protecting her young from danger.  I likely looked like it, too.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  The angel on my shoulder was telling me to politely leave without making a scene.  The devil on my shoulder was telling me to chomp. 

The angel won.  When the song was over I grabbed my girls and walked out of the theatre, giving one last glare to Mrs. Grumpy Pants on the way out.  When I reached the doors, a meltdown ensued.  My girls started to tear up, too.  The holiday cheer was zapped as we made our way home, defeated and embarrassed.

To the woman who scolded my child, were you trying to help me?  I generally like people, so I’m going to assume the answer to that question is yes.   Unfortunately, your stern words made me feel foolish and inadequate.

Stranger woman, I want you to know I understand that kids can be annoyingly loud.  I must have thought the same thing before I became a mom.  But now I have empathy.  I smile at the woman whose child is having a meltdown.  I give out imaginary hugs and high fives to the lady who can’t get her excited little girl to sit still in church or in that grocery store cart.  It’s tough to be a parent.  It’s probably pretty tough to be a kid, too.  It takes time to learn.  I welcome discipline from teachers and daycare providers and people who have the best interest of my child in their heart.  I don’t welcome discipline from you. 

Next time you’re around a child who is making noise at a child friendly event, please listen to your own advice and keep your lip zipped. 

Sincerely Yours,

Mama Bear


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About the author

Leslie Means

Leslie is the co-founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well.

She is married to a very patient man. Together they have two pretty fantastic little girls ages 8 and 6 and one little dude born March 2017!

When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.


  • Yes! One thousand times yes! I’m with you about taking advice and correction from those that know our kids, but strangers need not apply. I wouldn’t have said anything to her either, but the internal monologue accompanying my glare would have been nasty. I’m sorry that she stole your Christmas cheer. Those girls are lucky to have you as their Mama Bear!

  • Totally get it. I also offer a look at a possible benefit, however. This is a lesson that your daughter will remember – and that you can use – going forward. I’m not suggesting that the woman was correct in her actions, however – it is a teaching moment for your 6 year old about how her actions do impact those around her. Plus, the next time around when faced with a similar situation you can remind her of how embarrassing it was to have someone else (other than mom) call her down, hopefully prompting her to respond to mom. As moms, we are always quick to take offense when someone else “helps” with our parenting – but, I agree that people usually have good intentions. They don’t always come across as good, but look for ways to use their ugliness to benefit you and your child in the future.

  • Isn’t it funny how quickly people forget that it is difficult to raise children? I find most criticism comes from older women, who have raised children of their own. They like to comment that their children would not have acted like that. Really? Your child NEVER misbehaved? I find that hard to believe. And I’m quite certain these older mom’s would not have appreciated the exact critiques they like to provide while working so hard to do something right.

    I also feel like seeing a small glimpse of a child’s behavior is never enough to provide such harsh feedback. When I see a child having a melt-down, I always offer a sympathetic glance or smile for that Momma. It’s NOT easy and I know she’s trying so hard to manage her child, let alone not irritate everyone around her. I want her to know that her hard work IS appreciated, even when it’s not always successful.

    Patience for all mankind is a lost virtue.

  • I see both sides. A lot of older people/different cultures believe in the “it takes a village” and I have been in many situations where parents don’t remove their children when they are clearly being a huge disruption, and I’m not cool with that. This, however, doesn’t sound like a big disruption. Either way, being rude and snappy at a child is unacceptable.

    • Yeah – I’ve been there too. My hope (and assumption) is that this woman really thought she was helping. Once I calmed down a bit, I thought that was likely her intention. 😉

      • Hopefully. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less annoying! I remember even when I was growing up (in Texas) it was expected that all of my friends’ parents would keep us in line, and now parenting has become a much more private thing. There’s good and bad in that I guess but I do think the old schoolers THINK they’re helping!

  • Oh boy! This would have made me mad, too. But – I agree with Amy – I bet this will really help you in the future. Even though the lady was out of line.
    I’m sorry!!

  • Oh Leslie, I totally have been there. When my son was 2 he was telling my mom a story and got a little excited. We were in a very loud restaurant and he wasn’t being disruptive. A lady at the table next to got my attention and then asked me if I could keep him quiet. I was so shocked I didn’t know how to respond.My mom thought she was being nice since couldn’t hear what she said with all the restaurant noise, but I stopped her and said the woman was being a witch (only I didn’t say witch). The woman heard me and turned back around very quickly. Luckily my son was so little he had no idea what was going and that maybe we shouldn’t call people names. I was so upset, especially because there were a couple guys at the woman’s table who were very loud. Three kids in, I am getting better at handling this type of situation and keeping my cool. But man that mama bear comes out in full force when your kid is being unfairly judged for just being a kid.

  • So sorry you went through that! Anyone who has had kids has been there. I have. But I’m not nearly as nice as you and I completely ignored the angel and bit (figuratively, anyway). Izzy was 2 and had an ear infection. We were in a CVS browsing while we waited for her prescription. She was upset and started to cry… and then scream, and this lady turned to her and said “God, SHUT UP!” Now, I am a completely non-confrontational person. I’m just as likely to walk away and cry than to stand up for myself. But I was in that lady’s face so fast I hardly knew what was going on. I don’t even remember what I said, just that the manager had to come over and break it up. Probably not my finest moment, but I’m honestly glad I stood my ground.

  • But…there are many parents who sit there and do NOTHING. Just act like it’s not happening. Generally, if the parent is trying, I leave them alone. But, if the kid is running around JCP screaming & almost trips me and the parent is laughing on their cell phone completely forgetting they have a child, I’m going to say something. If they’re messing with something of mine/my family’s, I’m going to say something. The lady should’ve respected that you were making an effort, though and left it alone…

  • As a special needs mom, I get the dirty looks a lot and it hurts. Once the person actually looks at my son and sees his disability, suddenly their paradigm changes, their face softens and they become more understanding, and may even smile at him. But let’s remember that many children have “invisible” special needs, so don’t assume they’re just poorly behaved, undisciplined children. We should never be scolding someone else’s child (in my opinion), but don’t give them “the look” of disdain either. Their mom sees you, even though she pretends not to because she’s so tired of the stares and dirty looks. It hurts her every time, no matter how much she wishes she could just let it roll off her back.

  • Wish I had been there. We could have surrounded her! Now that I’m a mom, I try to help all involved… In a good way. May I help you? Or, just lean over and put the coat and hat back up. I will walk out of any place that doesn’t accept kids… They are what is the most important thing. It takes a village… That person, is angry and bitter and she will get het share of chomping back… Just not in the kingdom of God.

  • Children are to be children, that fidget, move up and down and around. You as a mom do the best you can to show them politeness. This lady did not show a good example of politeness. If she wanted to be more effective she should have assisted and give a better example of asking for quietness. Children always follow by good examples.

  • Hi!
    Do you know, I’ve had exactly the same experience that you did. In my case I was at a retreat with my son a 4 year old, and he kept talking to me in an excited little undertone (that WAS a bit loud) about the world in general.
    I was listening fondly though trying to shush him at times. Soon this woman sitting in front of me kept turning around n watching him. I thought,out of appreciation. Soon however she leaned over n said slowly and distinctly “stop talking and behave”
    The worst part is I was in shock. I picked up my kid and marched to a front row but my heart was burning and my eyes were tearing up.
    The rest of the retreat I kept staring at her with hatred but I didn’t confront. Probably I was in doubt as to whether we really did disturb her…it being a retreat and all.
    But I guess there’ll always be this regret thst I didn’t give her a piece of my mind

  • Couldn’t you have simply said to your child, “Eventually someone will say something to you when you behave that way. She should have been more polite but she certainly wasn’t wrong.” Do it loud enough for the woman to hear but honestly, I don’t think the woman was rude to your daughter. Your daughter should be aware that disruptions will be called out. It could have been worse. I might have just said, “please shut up!”.