I’m sharing this story not because I seek validation or to prove anyone wrong, but because I’m genuinely unsure about the right course of action. I truly appreciate honest answers, regardless of their nature.
Today, an incident occurred at my daughter’s school event, which was quite chaotic and lacked structure. Some parents were present with their children, while others were not (unfortunately, I fell into the latter category, and I regret it). For some reason, my six-year-old daughter decided she wanted to take back a bracelet she had given to her best friend and give it to another friend instead. Clearly, this was wrong, and it’s an area we need to work on. Due to the pandemic, she had limited socialization, and I believe she doesn’t fully grasp the concept of gifts or understand how her actions could hurt others.
The mother of my daughter’s best friend happened to be present and witnessed the situation. She scolded my daughter, saying things like, “You cannot take back the birthday present and give it to someone else! You are rude!” and “If you insist on getting the bracelet back, the friendship is over!” The other child, who received the bracelet, gave it back to her own mother, who then handed it to the best friend’s mom. However, my daughter persisted in giving the bracelet back to the other girl. Knowing my daughter, I believe she started feeling terrible at that point, sensing she was in trouble. In such situations, she becomes dysregulated and ended up repeatedly returning the bracelet. The mom interpreted this as disobedience and lost her temper, calling me on the phone to reprimand my daughter once more. Distraught, my daughter ran away and cried, finding solace in a secluded spot (as supervision wasn’t very close). When school ended and I arrived for pickup, the mom approached me, trembling, and returned the bracelet. She expressed extreme upset and, when her daughter asked if we could have a playdate, she angrily exclaimed, “They need to figure this out first!” before walking away.
I understand that my daughter made a mistake by attempting to regift a birthday present, even if temporarily, and she needs to learn that such actions can be hurtful and are never acceptable. However, she is just six years old and slightly younger than the other two girls, who were accompanied by their mothers. It was also the end of a warm school week, with two hours spent outside engaging in end-of-year activities. Given these factors, I feel that a little forgiveness could be warranted.
My question is: Is it acceptable for a parent to yell at a child who isn’t their own and label them as rude, even if the child has done something wrong? Personally, I find it difficult to imagine behaving that way towards any of my daughter’s friends. When kids become dysregulated during playdates or parties, I try to calm them down and de-escalate the situation, but I refrain from disciplining them or using derogatory language.
I genuinely ask: Am I being oversensitive or lacking understanding, or is this other parent crossing a line? (My husband believes this mom’s behavior is completely out of line, yelling at a six-year-old when her parents aren’t present. I’m unsure if we’re biased in our assessment.)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story.