When strangers try to discipline
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a store and our 4-year old daughter happened to have a tantrum at the store. I can't remember what set it off. I only remember that it was a situation that led to her an inconsolable fit of crying. I tried to do what I could to calmly calm her, but it was no good. An older gentleman at the store, a portly fellow at least 6 feet tall, stood above my daughter and took his index finger out, and shook it at her. All the while, he held a sort of sardonic smile on his face. It was almost scary, even to me. My daughter stopped her tantrum for a short while then resumed when the man stepped away.
In another instance, the other day, we were on the plane for our spring break getaway. On the plane was a little fella maybe 2 or 3 years old. He started to fuss and fuss and fuss upon take-off. I do not personally think that children are annoyances on the plane, but another passenger couldn't stand the fuss. He walked up to the child's seat and said sternly, "No, no, no. No fussing!"
Finally, I'll mention another anecdote. My 7-year old and I were picking up the 4-year old from dance class the other day. The dance teacher put her face squarely up to my 7-year old. The distance of her face from my daughter's face was almost uncomfortably close. The sweet and pleasant dance teacher said, "Your sister tells me that you tease her at home! Don't you know that big sisters are supposed to protect and care for their little sisters???" It was clear she was trying to be nice, but that she was also trying to do some sort of almost-scold. She smiled sweetly but cynically, and my 7-year old's face immediately became quite red. I mean, she is already shy as it is, and she turned beet red. I knew she felt awful inside and was so embarrassed.
When I was in 5th grade, I had a run-in with a girl at school. She and I had some sort of quarrel. I think it was about some boy who liked me and not her, and she was therefore never going to be my friend. Anyway, she apparently went home and told her mother how much she disliked me, and her mother showed up at the school cafeteria the next day. In front of all my friends and lots of other school children, she stood over me, telling me never to treat her daughter poorly. I have no idea what she said really; all I can remember what this lady standing over me, shaking her index finger at me, making me feel like the smallest child in the universe. To this day, my own mother regrets I ever had to live through that. She never thought it was right that a grown adult would take a matter into her own adult hands, when it should have been the two peers to work it out.
I know this is lengthy. What I want to know is this: When do you think it is appropriate for an adult to reprimand a child? When is it not? Have you had instances when your child was reprimanded by an adult stranger? Were you glad, sad, or mad about it? Have you had instances when you have reprimanded a child you didn't know, but felt that the circumstances merited intervention?