I almost *always* go directly to the kid, esp. if the parent isn't there.
This weekend, I stopped at kid (about 8?) at the church Christmas party who was walking across the room with a candy cane in his mouth. And I said, "Can I ask you a favor? I want to ask you not to walk with something in your mouth, and here's why. It really bugs all the grownups. All these grownups have really good imaginations--you think kids have all the imagination? Ha! And when they see the thing in your mouth, they immediately start picturing you falling, or someone waving their arm and bumping the candy cane, and then it scrapes the roof of your mouth, or punctures it, or maybe even it goes up in your BRAIN, or it knocks a tooth loose, or even if it just makes you cry! And then they get all antsy. So it would be nice of you to take it easy on them and not walk with something in your mouth. And especially don't RUN!"
He said, "OK," and took it out and walked off.
And I smile and use my friendly voice.
I wouldn't like this at all. Maybe his Mom has no issue with him walking while eating a candycane? I don't think that giving a child a great big long lecture is appropriate. You could have asked him not to, and if he questioned as to why, maybe then you could explain why. You didn't even ask before you gave him a lecture.
I didn't think of it as a lecture. I thought of it as an explanation. I tried to deliver it that way as well.
I think kids deserve explanations, and I think it makes them more likely to act safely in the future.
And given that this was at a function sponsored by *my church,* and my church gave the kid the candycane (liability issues), I think I have the right to *ask a favor* of the child. As one of the organizers, I don't care that you will let your kid run around with a candycane in his mouth. It's our event, and I'm partially in charge.
(Some other place, where I didn't feel I had a stake in things, I probably wouldn't say anything.)
Because I did not "correct" this kid or state any sort of rule--I just asked him to do all us nervous grownups a favor.
I take those differences in terminology very seriously.
I think it would be fine to ask someone to stop walking with a candycane as a favor to you, or to ask participants at an event you organized not to do so, assuming your role gives you the authority to set behavioral rules. But I think your explanation is way over the top and comes across as condescending for a couple of reasons.
1. You're phrasing it as if you're speaking for all grown-ups. No where in this entire explanation do you say that it bothers you
personally or even that it's a liability issue for the church. Instead, you place it all on this nebulous group of "all grown-ups" who need to be protected from their own vivid imaginations. "They" imagine these horrible things. It makes "them" nervous. You didn't even include yourself in that group of nervous adults, as if it doesn't bother you, and you're only speaking up to protect "them." Obviously there are grown-ups (including many on this board, and likely the kid's parents) who don't see anything wrong with walking while sucking on a candy-cane. If you want to ask him to stop, then why not ask him to stop because it makes you
nervous or on behalf of the event organizers (assuming you have the authority to do so)? Why act like you're asking him to join you in a secret conspiracy to protect these silly other
grown-ups from these dreadful mental images?
2. Your explanation was way too detailed and over the top. I think an 8-year-old is capable of understanding "Would you please not suck on your candycane while you walk? It makes me nervous because I'm afraid you'll get hurt if you fall with it in your mouth or if someone bumps into it." If the kid can't figure out how falling on a candy-cane could hurt him, he can ask (or he might just decide to humor you, even if he thinks it's silly). I certainly don't think he needs the hyperbole of "it could go into your BRAIN." In fact, I think such hyperbole would make him more likely to dismiss you as a crazy paranoid person to be mollified and ignored than a reasonable person with legitimate concerns. The excessive explaining comes across as extremely condescending to me, and also as a lecture due to the length.