I previously shared an incident where a woman seated in front of my daughter hit her legs mid flight. Apparantly this situation is not unique as Phoenix police are currently investigating an incident on a Southwest Airlines flight where a woman allegedly grabbed a child who was kicking the back of her seat in March.
“Her three-year-old son either kicked or put his feet up on the back of the woman’s seat when she turned around and grabbed him. The woman told the child, “You’re not going to be kicking my seat all the way to Las Vegas,” while she shook him and then slammed him back on the seat.”
Talk about an over-reaction. I have to admit when the passenger in front of me hit my child’s feet, I was ready to let loose on my four letter, words, but shaking a child is an entirely different story.
So, what do you do?
First, separate the woman from your child. Physically intervene to get her away from her.
Second, calm yourself down. There is no way any of us could transition from the fight or flight stress level necessary to protect our child to a rational conversation. Ask fellow passengers or the flight attendant to intervene while you take a break. Walk yourself and your child to the back of the plane for some water, juice and a cooling off period. Tricks to calm yourself down include noticing your breathing, counting backwards from ten, spelling your name backwards. These tricks all re-engage the rational part of your brain.
Once you are calm, try to define the problem: i.e. she doesn’t want to sit in front of your child and fix it, either she moves or you do. As long as your child is physically safe, there is no need to escalate the issue (especially with someone irrational enough to shake another person’s child).