Billie Faiers' fury at stranger smacking her son and how best to react, according to a parenting expert

Mum-of-two, Billie Faiers revealed on her latest podcast how a complete stranger smacked her toddler son.

The reality star and her family; husband Greg, eight-year-old daughter Nelly, and son Arthur were on a long-haul flight home when a woman in the seat in front became agitated by four-year-old Arthur. As four-year-olds do, he was experiencing a tantrum and kicking her chair. So, the woman turned around and smacked him on the arm in a bid to stop the kicking. Parenting consultant Kirsty Ketley to talk us through exactly how parents should try to respond in situations like this...

"Billie shares in her podcast that she ‘saw red’ and began shouting at the woman, as she was, ‘livid’. Which, in my opinion, is understandable. Few things trigger us more as parents than when someone hurts our child. And the knee-jerk reaction is to do as Billie did, and hurt the person back. Be that with words or physically."

Family Editor at Stephanie Lowe agrees; 'Smacking a child you don't know is like assaulting a person in the street in adult terms. Neither is okay. I couldn't even imagine how I would react. It’s so hard to hold back, so I get why Billie Faiers reacted this way. My number one job as a mum is to keep my child safe. I am here to always advocate for him and to be his voice. But I know that everything I do he watches and learns from. So I am always working to set good examples of how to handle situations."

Dealing with your children and the public is always tricky, even down to the parenting politics on the playground. Has your child stayed on the swing too long? Did he just push in front of that other child? All these situations can be hard to navigate.

Image of Billie Faiers and her children Nelly and Arthur at a movie premiere

Billie, Arthur and Nelly  Credit: Getty/Future

Parenting consultant Kirsty Ketley's four tips on how to respond if a stranger lashes out at your child

1. Remain calm

Take a beat, breathe. I know this will not be easy as  - like Billie Faiers - you may be seething inside but, particularly if your child is in the full throws of a tantrum, you need to be their calming influence and not join in the chaos.

By remaining calm, you are in control and unlikely to make any ‘spur of the moment’ decisions. Your calmness will make your child feel more settled and safe. Lots of shouting and anger will cause your child to become even more distressed . Plus they might feel like they have done something wrong.

2. Talk it out

The person who lashed out, may likely regret what they have done as soon as they have done it. While this doesn’t make it okay - showing them you understand why they became agitated by your child will help diffuse the situation.

As a parent you know how hard it can be, you live with it 24/7. Then calmly tell them, in no uncertain terms, that what they did was not okay. Hitting a child is never okay, especially when it’s not their own.

Explain that your child is developing and tantrums are normal for their age. Toddlers in particular, struggle with their emotions when they are hungry, tired or feeling unsettled and shouldn’t be punished for this, by anyone.

3. Ask for an apology

I'm not sure whether Billie Faiers did this, but ask the perpetrator to apologise to your child. It is so important for your child to see and hear this. Further more, explain that you are going to report their behaviour to the police. This might not result in any charges, but it is on record if there are further incidents, and it might stop them reacting that way again.

4. Re-assure your child

It’s important that your child knows that they didn’t deserve to be hit and that you are there for them. Your child will always look to you to lead their emotions. Check that they are okay – there are no marks etc, and re-assure them that it won’t happen again.

Parents are children’s first role-models, so by approaching things this way, you are also teaching your child how to manage difficult situations. As they grow, children will come across people who annoy them and they will get into disagreements, and you want them to know how best to deal with the big feelings they will feel in those situations.

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Kirsty Ketley
Parenting Expert

Kirsty is a qualified early years practitioner and parenting consultant with a wealth of knowledge and experience from over 22 years of working with families and children from birth to the teenage years. Kirsty's career has seen her work in a variety of roles, from children's holiday rep and nursery nurse to over 16 years working as a daily nanny.