How We Unintentionally Convinced A Grumpy Bystander That Positive Parenting Works

How We Unintentionally Convinced A Grumpy Bystander That Positive Parenting Works

It was the day after our sweet dog had died.  My kids and I were emotional, grief struck and tired.

It was the worst possible day to have to get groceries. But we had to, we just had to.

A lonely carrot, half empty milk carton and an expired yogurt would not pass for dinner.

After a few hugs and quick planning we managed to get out the door, grab some basics at the store and make to the cashier.

As I searched for my wallet which had disappeared under a pile of little horses,  playmobil dudes, tear filled tissues and crunched up snacks, a grumpy voice thundered into my ear.

“Control your child WOMAN!”

Wow….What was that all about?

Startled, I looked up to see  an elderly man with a frown strong enough to break a wall.  Ahead of me I saw my curly headed five year old  stepping up and down, up and down, and up and down again from our shopping cart.

As he moved the cart was going side to side in a bit of a frenzy.

This was NOT good.

And then it got worse…

I realized that my son was doing the “I gotta go!” dance.  Ever seen that one? The wiggle, jiggle, stand still for 2 seconds and start over again maneuver?  Sometimes a soft hum goes along with it and when you see your kid shiver you realize that finding a toilet must be a priority?

And then that grumpy voice just had to speak up again…

“control your child. don’t you see what he is doing? what kind of manners are you teaching your kids…blah, blah, frown, frown…”

My mind was racing I have to DO something to my kid!

The Magic of Connecting before Correcting came to my rescue

I took a deep breath and gently reached for my little dancing kiddo.

I got down so we were smiling right at each other: “Hey sweetie, I just need to finish paying and load up the groceries in the cart, give me a minute and we’ll run to the bathroom!”

“How did you know I have to go?” He whispered with an adorable smile and I knew he was so glad I understood.

“Uhm…I guess I just could tell. So can you hold it for one more minute?” I asked.

“I know!” He says, “let me start bagging these groceries for us so it goes waaaaay faster!”

“I’ll help too mom!” Said my soon to be seven year old, wiping yet another set of grief tears that had snuck up on him.

“Me also! I a helper!!” Said my two year old.

I turned to the cashier and quickly paid and took my receipt.

This was the moment that things turned around big time

I caught a glimpse of the elderly man  looking at my kids as they bagged the groceries. The kids were quick and working together to make things fit into our bags. They were talking to each other, smiling and the up and down cart boogie had stopped completely.

No Harsh Discipline and The Children are Behaving

This man was now sort of smiling and said to me “How did you do that? I didn’t hear you say one mean thing. Now your children are just working like that? They are helping you so nicely? What’s your secret?”

“I just figured out what he needed sir. He wasn’t meaning to do anything wrong.”

“I’m…I’m…uhmm” he stammered. “I’m sincerely impressed.”

“Have a great day.” I said as we all dashed away, my seven year old cheering on his brother “you can make it, hold on…we are almost there!”

As we drove home I remembered something I had read a few years before. It was a blog post from a mom talking about how when we choose non-punitive parenting we give up the notion we can control our children. She also wrote that when we parent without the intent to control, we open the door to public admonishments from total strangers that just don’t get what we are trying to do, or we eventually just give into the public pressure to be a “good, stern parent” and fall back into controlling ways.

Punishing Our Kids To Appease Others

It’s true, sometimes I think I have to “DO” something so other people will see I am “parenting.” I hear this from a lot of the parents that I work with as well.  Sometimes people make comments about our child’s behavior and it can make us question everything.

Do you worry if Positive Parenting works?




  • Remember what you are working towards.
  • Remember who your child looks up.
  • It’s YOU who should be influencing your child to feel and do better.
  • Trust that positive parenting can help your child learn to make sound choices and decisions.
  • Create a home atmosphere with a safe set of boundaries so your child will trust you, not fear you.

Positive Parenting is not perfection based.

You don’t always get it right, and it’s not always smooth sailing.

Bad days happen. People Make comments. Kids misbehave.

Take a huge breath, start over.

The very fact that you are trying, that you care, is such a gift to your family.

Give yourself and your child permission to make mistakes.  Believe that solutions are possible, no matter how difficult the situation.

Choosing positive parenting tools honestly and truly makes daily life enjoyable even when circumstances are difficult.

I am sure that positive parenting can work for you and your family too.

Peace & Be Well,


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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

5 Responses to How We Unintentionally Convinced A Grumpy Bystander That Positive Parenting Works

  1. Fantastic post! Way to keep your composure under pressure. I hope to get there soon!

  2. Excelente,Ariadne! Realmente vale muito “descobrir” o que o filho ou nosso semelhante está tentando dizer do que repreender. Bravíssimo!

  3. I came accross positive parenting end of last year. And I started to change the way I relate to my children this month. I am sure I havent read enough or changed enough, but your blog has inspired me to change and I can really see the results coming through. Thank you so much. The most important for me is that I feel my twins are happier and they respond better to me and when I ask them to do anything. I am much happier and I am enjoying them a lot more. There is a long way to go, but I will get there :-). By the way the previous comment is in Portuguese. Are you Brazilian too?

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