What is the best way to respond to negative behavior from children who aren’t your own or that you don’t know?

The other day, I’m driving home only fifteen minutes after the Elementary school in my neighborhood lets out. Kids are darting out into the streets, parents are driving/trying to park/trying to leave, and it’s general craziness which I am pretty familiar with. But as I approach the stop sign at the corner, I notice a young boy about eight years old standing on the side walk. He looked like he was going to cross the street or maybe he was looking for someone. I slowed down, not sure what his next move could be.

At the point when I was about 20 feet away I noticed the stick in his hand right as he threw it in the air in front of my car. His toss was light and seemed unsure. He looked at me and seemed to be wondering what I might say. As I slowed down and rolled down my window, I wondered “what is the best thing to say?”

I want to confront him about what he was doing, but I didn’t want to be just another adult yelling at bad behavior. Would yelling actually encourage his behavior by giving even a little (negative) attention for his actions? And I don’t know that yelling would really have the affect I wanted, which was to encourage him to see his actions as a bad choice and to not do it in the future.

So as I rolled down the window I said evenly to him, “Why do you feel the need to do that?” I didn’t wait around for his response as a line of car continued behind me. I’m not convinced that I said the right thing or that it made a difference, but in the moment it was hard to know the best route to take…

I consider even stopping the car and trying to talk with him, but I didn’t want to over step it either. I wonder what those who practice compassioante communication would suggest in this situtation.

 


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