How Should You Discipline Other People’s Kids?

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When it comes to bringing up children to become responsible adults, discipline is paramount. However, the way you handle your kids when they exhibit a bad behaviour is different from how another parent will tackle such situations with their kids.

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What you see as an acceptable medium of punishment may come off as cruel punishment to another parent. That leaves us with the question of how to discipline other people’s kids when they are in your custody or when they misbehave around you.

There is an African saying that “when a child is in the mother’s womb, the child is hers. But when the child is born, it takes the community to bring him up”. Maybe a few years ago that saying was right, but in this present day, parents have boundaries when it comes to someone else disciplining their kids.

Sometimes, when kids get naughty around you, the temptation to ignore might creep in because you do not want to have issues with their parents. But what if they could harm your child with their activity or behaviour?

This is enough reason to step in and introduce some caution. However, the situation at hand should determine how you respond or handle it. These are some possible scenarios and the response befitting them.

Bullying

If you go out for a picnic with your three-year-old daughter and your sister’s five-year-old daughter, you are seen as a parent to both kids. But when your niece eats up all her sweets and begins to pull at your daughter’s hair because she wants to collect her’s what do you do? It may seem like an easy to handle a situation, so you just tell your niece to ask nicely.

But what if she pushes your kid and injures her the moment you turn to answer a phone call, and even throws all the sweets away? Now this is an embarrassing behaviour, and you might get furious, but because she’s not your kid and your sister is a difficult person you have to be diplomatic.

Here’s what to do; Pack up the blankets and tell your niece there’ll be no more outings with her in the sternest way possible but do not yell. Take your niece home and leave her to play alone while you nurse your child’s injury until it’s time for your niece to go home. It doesn’t mean you are a terrible aunt or parent for not doing to her what you would do to your child if she bullied someone else.

It only says you do not want to have reasons to quarrel with your sister over a child because tantrums are inevitable at that age.

You should, however, tell the child’s mother what happened immediately she arrives, so she can caution her kid if it pleases her but make sure she understands that you are unhappy with the behaviour. The above is a worst-case scenario.

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Use of foul language

When a child insults your kid or uses foul language when conversing with your child, kindly tell the child ” Hey young man or young lady, we do not talk like that here”.

Once you have done that, say to your child that you never want to hear such bad words from him or her and there’ll be a punishment if you ever hear it. Make sure the other kid is listening while you talk to your kid.

That way, you have successfully sent an indirect message to the other kid that such character attracts a punishment. You do not necessarily need to communicate such behaviour to the child’s parent because there is a chance the child learnt such words from home. You should, however, be more concerned about keeping your child’s vocabulary clean.

Bad manners

Saying the magic words “please”, ” sorry”, and “thank you” is something every child should be taught as early in life as possible.

What if you have kids over at your house to play and you notice one of them never apologises when he does something wrong? You don’t have to be harsh about it. Address all the kids at once and teach them about the three magic words. Go further to tell them that there will be a reward for any kid who uses these sweet words when the need arises.

Table manners

Children are allowed to make mistakes. When it comes to table manners, teach them in the most helpful way possible. My friend’s son had the habit of dipping his bread into his cup of chocolate food drink, but it was ok.

He learnt from watching the other kids eat the right way. Sometimes kids eat the way they do because it’s the only way they know how to eat or the way their parents taught them. Let it go! There are other ways to discipline children without losing your cool.

You might make them scared of you and see you as a bad person if you snap every time they offend you. When dealing with other people’s kids, you should treat them with empathy and understand that some of their behaviours are as a result of their home training.

How do you handle a case of a parent paying no attention to their child’s weak character in front of them? Well, if a child misbehaved and the parent turns a blind eye, it says a lot about the kind of person that parent is, and you handle the issue by talking to the parent. Some time ago, I was shopping in a mall when a six-year-old girl called a pregnant lady a fat pig and spat at her under the watchful eye of her mother.

People around expected an adverse reaction towards this character from the child’s parent, but instead, she laughed as said: “kids can be naughty”. Everyone around who had witnessed this misbehaviour lashed at the child’s mother, and she realised how terrible a parent she is.

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Children are sensitive, so you should try not to hurt their ego with the way you caution them. Avoid scolding a child in the presence of his or her peers, so they do not feel embarrassed.  Call them out and rebuke them in private.

In cases where a particular child deliberately does things to annoy you, and the parents do not see anything wrong with their child’s behaviour, avoid such a family.

People's Kids
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Emmanuella Oluwafemi
Emmanuella Oluwafemi is a Sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and pedicurist. When she's not writing an article, she's surfing the web for new skills to learn.
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