Man Slaps Crying Toddler In The Face On A Plane: Child-Hating Gone Wild

When a toddler cries, parents can get worn down and even ornery. People in a restaurant may be annoyed. Passengers on a plane may be especially ruffled. 

I get all of that – it’s human nature. But human nature has hit (pun intended) a new low with the report that a man has been accused of slapping a toddler in the face during a flight because he was crying. The toddler was sitting on his mom’s lap. And for good measure, the man is also reported to have made a racial slur as well. And now the child is “scared to death.

If the accusation is proven to be true (like you, I’m just reading the news reports on it and I wasn’t on the plane), it’s almost easy to dismiss this as the act of a child-hater gone wild. Maybe it’s just one guy who did an unbelievable and reprehensible (you can fill in your own words here – I’m almost at a loss to describe the actions) thing. But there is, I think, a deeper message.

In our culture, we’ve become too tolerant of directing anger at toddlers (and of course, babies and children and teens). It’s become too acceptable to complain and b**** about a toddler who won’t stop crying, or who is too clingy, or too demanding. People who don’t currently have a toddler do that. And some parents do as well. I get that parents need to vent – and sometimes it’s very helpful to do that. I understand that parents might find a bit of solace writing in exaggerated tones online as a form of release. I don’t have a problem with “Go the F**k to Sleep.” But I worry that this trend is going too far. Are we breeding and encouraging a parenting culture that hates parenting? Are we too accepting of some of the inevitable negative feelings that we have about kids and going overboard in being “honest” about everything we dislike about kids? I’d like our parenting culture to model acceptance and understanding and tolerance of our how our babies and toddlers and kids and teens act. And then I’d hope our broader culture would follow suit.

Let’s face some facts. Kids are dependents. They cry and scream and get upset because they are supposed to do this. It’s a signal to adults that they need comforting, guidance, and soothing – not angry looks and nasty tones. Yes, it’s frustrating – but we are, after all, the adults.

So as understanding as I am about the idea of banning kids from some restaurants and banning them from some flights, part of me wants to dismiss all of this. Part of me wants to remind adults that they were toddlers once. Part of me wants to say that, guess what, not all adults in restaurants or on airplanes are especially delightful to be around in public. Maybe it’s time we stop indulging all of the negatives about being around kids and start embracing all the wonderful things about it. So when we find ourselves on a long flight, and there is a baby crying and parents are trying hard to calm and soothe them, maybe it’s time we start practicing empathy rather than anger – and maybe even see if we can help. Let’s save the anger for adults who don’t treat kids right.

Baby Crying via 


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  1. by littleduckies

    On February 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Slapping the toddler in the face is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable.

    If the parents were sitting there doing nothing, and letting their child disturb everyone else, I would have slapped the PARENTS. It is they who are responsible, not the helpless kid.

    (On second thought, I would not have slapped the parents in front of the child.)

  2. by Aleta

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    THIS MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL!!! I really doubt anyone would let their child scream and do nothing but as the Mother of a toddler sometimes there is NOTHING you can do, except let them cry. I would have been in jail had someone put their hands on my child, I would have broken his neck for sure and for certain!!! I do not care how loud my chid is or what my child is doing to “disturb you” this in my child and I am handling it the best way I can and you better keep your distance if you feel frustrated by our struggles, but let’s keep in mind the child is a toddler and not fully in control of their emotions!!! ERRRR damn this makes me mad!!!!!!!!

  3. by brandy

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    i have to ask was the man the kids father? im assuming the racial slur was towards child so HOPEFULLY not and in that case as the childs mom i would have kicked that mans face in. it is NEVER ok to slap a child, a teenager yes but not a child. regardless if you are the parents of not my daughter has just hit the terrifle twos and acts it (normally at home and not in public) and i get frustrated and annoyed but i breathe and remind myself that this is what they do they push your buttons sometimes they test the limits and your patience but never one time have i ever slapped her face, smacked her mouth yes for biting (yes im a punishment parents get over it) but i have never hit her outta anger or harder than something to get her attention and i never will no one should

  4. by Susan

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    To the commenter who said she’d slap the parent for doing nothing: youre aware the child wasnt even two years old and airplanes make their ears pop so badly they are in incredible pain? They cant stop there poor baby from crying. Anger is not compassion. Even if the child was 5 the parent doesnt have control of a child’s reaction to sittuations. The parent cant act out in anger; instead he has to listen and work through it. Theres not much that can be done on the plane. Slapping anyone is not an answer.

  5. by Rachel

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I was thinking about this last night. People get so angry when there are crying babies in grocery stores, and get upset that the parents can’t “control” their children. Babies, toddlers, children – they all cry. They’re not going to behave or do what you want 24/7. Parents still have to carry out their duties as caregivers. Deal with the several minutes of crying so they can do their grocery shopping or whathaveyou. Then you can go to your quiet home while they may have to continue to listen to the crying.

    P.S. Slapping a child generally leads to more crying, not less.

  6. by moira

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    i would rather sit next to a crying baby than a drunk adult on a plane…

  7. by Elise

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    The point of this article to me is the lack of tolerance that we seem to be developing regarding our children (in a societal sense). I have to agree. I have seen it in my own family. I don’t know how many times I have said ‘that’s what kids do.’ ‘Ease up’ ‘Don’t personalize it’ I have seen it with other young parents. I end up saying ‘It’s not about you anymore, you have a child’. If a child is disruptive, remove the child to a different place. Sorry it’s inconvenient, but s/he is YOUR child. It’s called courtesy. If it’s on a plane, be prepared…one family actually brought disposable ear plugs for the other passengers..or better yet..take a pair when YOU are flying.

  8. by JennyO

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    In a broader sense, I recognize and also take issue with the child-hating trend you discuss, but I strongly suspect that had little to do with this actual incident. It sounds like a mental health issue with the man who slapped. Dementia? Onset of a serious mental health issue? Alzheimer’s? My bet is it is going to be one of these.

  9. by Larissa Green

    On February 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    While disgusted, I’m actually not too surprised this has happened. Our culture teaches self-focus and individualism, which does not lend itself to giving up desires or “rights” for the good of another, much less living in an empathetic community with the adults and children around us. Becoming angry with a person (child OR adult) who infringes on what we think we need or deserve is a natural response inherent in ALL of us. I’m so thankful I have the presence of Jesus in my life to help me deny my natural selfish tendencies as I parent my children.

  10. by Allison

    On February 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    This is the best thing I’ve read since becoming a mom 2 years ago. Thank you for saying EXACTLY what needs to be said. Thank you, Dr. Rende.

  11. by Gina

    On February 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Elise, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a two year old who is often such a well behaved happy little boy, but everyone has their days and when he does have a difficult moment (because really that’s all it is) out in public, a majority of people give dirty looks or make some sort of comment about being happy they don’t have to deal with “that!” People forget that children are small people! They have feelings, they get frustrated, but they don’t always have the tools to explain their frustration so they scream or hit or throw a tantrum. It is our job to help guide them through their feelings in a positive way so they grow into adults that have compassion and understand and not the type of adult that smacks someone else’s child across the face!

  12. by Bridgette

    On February 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I’ll be honest. Before I became a parent, I used to get annoyed at parents who brought crying, screaming children to restaurants, supermarkets, etc… I never slapped someone’s child (and never wanted to), but I did the eye-rolling, sighing thing. My problem (and it was MY problem) was that I wasn’t familiar with children/infants/toddlers or their developmental phases. I wasn’t aware that they were having tantrums simply because that’s what children who are at that age do. I erroneously believed that the parents were “loosey goosey” and failed to discipline their children. I thought that parents should teach their children to behave in public before they even leave their homes. After becoming a parent and taking a couple of child development courses (in preparation for becoming a mommy), I now understand that young children are not “misbehaving” when they’re having a tantrum. Their brains aren’t yet mature or sophisticated enough to comprehend or verbally express their emotions. Yes, they assert their independence and test their boundaries, but it’s not to piss adults off. It’s a normal part of their journey to adulthood. We’ve ALL walked that path. I don’t know that our society tolerates or condones “child-hating.” I think A LOT of people are uninformed (or misinformed) about how children behave and why they do what they do. Adults get frustrated because we want children to communicate with us like they’re adults. We forget that, once upon a time, we were in their little shoes and needed adults to be patient with us while we were growing. I think this news story, and others like it, can be explained by too little patience, too little education, and too little compassion for other people. I like the idea of helping parents who appear to be struggling with an irritable toddler. As a mother, at the very least, I would appreciate the concern and understanding.

  13. by Jen

    On February 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    This incident will hopefully bring up many more conversations about tolerance and children. Thanks for writing such a great article. I just flew to South Florida with my 18 month old and the weeks leading up to the trip I was nervous and stressed about the flight. “What will she do? Will she scream? Will her ears pop and be uncomfortable? Will people be irritated with us? Will I be THAT lady with the crying baby.” When the time came to leave for the airport, I looked at my husband and said…screw it! If we’re relaxed and calm, she will be. This is out of our control. I paid good money for three seats on this plane and deserve to be just as comfortable as the guy next to me. It’s annoying that people think flying is any different than taking the bus these days. If you want peace and quiet, charter a plane. Otherwise, pack your ear plugs and a smile.

  14. by Kelli

    On February 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I saw this story on the news. It seems to me that the man had an issue with the childs race. It was a caucasion mother who had adopted a black child. The man called the child a racial slur when he started crying upon landing. This is just ridiculous. I am so thankful that I never had any issues with people when flying with my son. The first time he flew, he was 4 weeks old. The mother of the child also said that the man rolled his eyes at her when she said “Oh, looks like we’re sitting with you.” So she stood…STOOD! up in the back for 90 mins, just to avoid this arragant excuse for a man!

  15. by Danielle

    On February 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    This is extremely sad. I have a toddler and I would never in a million years slap him or his sisters in the face for any reason. People do need to remember that they were little once. What kind of monster is this man I hope they punish him to the fullest extent. I would have slapped him in the face.

  16. by Toulouse

    On February 21, 2013 at 7:31 am

    I have some GREAT punishment ideas for this dude. Totally reasonable ones. Your honor?