Parent Panel: When to step in

You see a child acting aggressively toward another child and their parent isn’t doing anything about it. Do you step in to correct the child’s behavior?

We posed that question to the 23 members of our Parent Panel, and here’s what they said.What would you do? Comment below!

See more from the Parent Panel and meet the parents!



Yes, in general as a parent, I try to watch out for other’s children-that means protecting and correcting when necessary. I hope people would do it for mine if they see them in need of either, as well.

Rani Morrison, Oak Park


Yes! I have done this before. As an adult, our job is to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6. It takes a village to raise a child!

Jackie Sergeant, Richton Park


Not only would I step in, I would feel it was my responsibility to do so as the adult nearby. This is where “It Takes a Village” comes into play. Sometimes I feel we’re all on the defense when it comes to someone else correcting our child, but we need to take a step back and realize these little people are not born knowing right from wrong. Parents, and other adults in the community, at times, are working collectively to teach them.

Kerry Quirin, Downers Grove


If the child was in harm’s way, I would step in regardless. Now what to do when my child is acting aggressively towards me? Sigh!

Jiye Lee, Chicago


I honesty can say I have no idea if I would step in. I probably would do the teacher thing and ask the child, “Would you like it if someone did that to you?” and look into it. Nowadays you don’t know if a parent would take something the wrong way and hurt you or your child. There are a lot of crazy people out there.

Rebecca Moulfarha, La Grange Park


All adults have a responsibility to help protect a child who is being threatened. It is always best to act through a parent, if available, and to be calm and reasonable, but no one has the right to threaten a child.

Brian Reilly, Elmwood Park


Yes, I would step in and try to deflect and/or distract the aggressive behavior. Every child has the right to be safe, including the child acting aggressively.

Monique Zipperich, Palatine


I definitely would step in. I would be gentle but firm in my approach with the aggressive child so they knew their behavior is wrong.

Tracie Guzolek, Chicago


Yes, if I’m sure that the other child is in need and not just joking around with a sibling or neighbor. I watch the nonverbal clues closely and try first to redirect everyone to a more peaceable way to play!

Trish Muro, Chicago


I would absolutely step in in this situation and would expect other parents to do the same with my child. While I would never shout or scream at another person’s child, I would talk with the child and try to correct the situation. Now, if it is a playful aggression and a case of “boys will be boys,” then keep an eye on it, but no reason to overreact.

Ryan Salzwedel, Chicago


Correcting someone else’s child is not your responsibility; creating positive play is. Intervene and direct your child to a different activity. In a calm and non-threatening way, explain this to either the child acting aggressively or to the child’s parent if present.

Aileen Robinson, Chicago


Vigilant Mom alert! I never hesitate to step in. The parent chose not to be involved, and the child generally welcomes the adult direction. They are often surprised and thankful to be called on the actions they already know are wrong.

Heather Earnhart, Chicago


It’s probably best to stay away unless things get out of hand or a child’s well-being is in danger. However, I would keep an eye on the aggressive child to make sure this does not continue.

Jeff Mezydlo, Chicago


Yes. I would try to redirect a child who is acting aggressively toward another. As a parent of three, it’s hard sometimes to be aware of what each of my children are doing all the time. I appreciate other parents looking out for my children and I do the same for theirs.

Rebecca Pobloske, Itasca


While there’s great value in kids resolving their problems, sometimes an adult needs to stop situations from escalating. The Mama Lion in me has been known to roar when an aggressor doesn’t stop after they’ve been told to stop.

Anne Rezabek, Elgin


I would step in if a child is endangered. If my child was the object of aggression, I would join him and offer suggestions on how to respond verbally to the aggressor. Generally, I follow my instincts.

Kate Atkins-Trimnell, Homewood


I would definitely step in to correct any child’s aggressive behavior, especially if their parent isn’t doing anything about it. Of course, I would do it in a polite manner, in order not to scare the child.

Chely Carrillo, Chicago


If my child were the victim I most definitely would step in! I’d explain to the misbehaving child what they were doing wrong and why they should stop and then stay with the child until their parent arrived. But if I didn’t know either party involved, unless the child was in immediate danger, I would mind my own business.

Mona Shah, Glenview


Yes! No child should be allowed to run amok terrorizing others. It is OK to gently ask the child to stop and also to ask, “Where is your mother?”

Cherish Walsh, Streamwood


Absolutely. It’s the right thing to do. I believe in the African proverb that says “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”

Lolita Cusic, Chicago


If you know the parties involved, step in. If not, judge case by case. Will it break up on its own? Are other children threatened? Unfortunately we live in a crazy world, so protect your children and yourself first.

Lisa Cheruff, Skokie


Absolutely! As a parent, it’s my belief that it’s my responsibility to protect my children and any other child from doing harm to themselves or others. To watch the inappropriate behavior take place and not say anything just isn’t in my nature. If the other parent responds to my reaction negatively, I would respond with “OK” and keep it moving!

Diane Oliver, Chicago


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