Do you Discipline Other People's Children? Here's How to Handle It...

in #children4 years ago (edited)

If you baby sit children or your own kids ever have friends over, you are the one in charge. Since no child is perfectly behaved 100% of the time, the question of disciplining a kid that isn't your own will come up. How do you handle it? Do you avoid it and ignore their behavior, or give them the same punishment you would you own kiddos?

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Source: Flickr

Here are some tips for disciplining other people's children, if you ever find yourself in that situation.


Talk to the Parents

If you are going to be watching someone else's child, especially in a long-term ordeal like regularly babysitting, discuss discipline with the parents. Ask how they usually discipline at home, and what is acceptable or not for when the child is in your care. They may use time outs and think it will be effective for you to do the same. Consistency like that will likely make the child behave better when they are at home OR when in your care.

If the parent forbids you to discipline their child in any way, you may want to rethink the supervision altogether.


Avoid Physical Discipline

Even if the parents of the child say you can spank them, I highly advise against it. You can find yourself in a lot of hot water, legally, if you were to strike a child in your care.

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Plus, physical punishments don't seem as effective as other methods anyway, from my own experience. There are always alternatives, which will be better for you and the child you are supervising.


Always Be Fair in Discipline

If you are watching someone else's child along with your own, you must be fair when giving out punishments. Don't favor your own children over the others in your care. Your kid won't always be the angel while the other kids are the monsters.

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When an issue arises between your child and another, take the time to find out what really happened. Listen to both sides of the story with an open mind. Don't rush to punish the other child just to protect your own, unless it's warranted. Rather than punishments for child spats, it may be better just to redirect the kids to doing something independently, like drawing or coloring, so they can cool off.


Discuss Incidents with the Parents

At the end of the day, when the parent arrives to pick up their child, you should discuss any issues you had. Be honest and tell them what happened as well as how you handled it. Transparency is important when you are caring for another person's children. Hopefully, the parent will be understanding and apologize for any misbehavior from their child.

Disciplining someone else's child isn't the most fun thing to do when your kids are having their friends over to play. However, if they are in your home, they should expect to follow your rules. Also, you will want to get onto them when they are doing something dangerous. Knowing how to properly discipline comes from talking to the parents beforehand, as well as being fair when the need for punishments arise.


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@keciah - this is an interesting post. I have always wondered if I was watching someone else's child- what I should do about discipline. I guess I'd like to stay in control, but some kids try and push the limit or your buttons. You have to remain the one in charge and not sink to their level of misbehavior. Upvoted! Great post!

Looking through your posts it looks like you have some nice advice and educational articles around parenting. You might try using the #steemiteducation tag or check out @steemiteducation if your posts are educational in some way because steemit has a large community that appreciates education posts and it might get you more views or support. On another note: if another parent spanked my kid I'd probably freak out on them! Mama marxrab is against physical punishments. It's a hard subject to handle when you are dealing with other peoples kids.

Thanks for the tip, @marxrab! I am a member of the #steemiteducation Discord where I share all of my educational articles. I should try actually using their tag though too.

And yes, I would not be happy with someone else spanking my child either! I don't even spank my own, no way could I do it to other kid. At the same time, I do not hesitate to stop a child that is doing that is something not allowed in my house.

I think your advice on avoiding physical discipline is a good idea; wouldn't want any lockups. :-0 But seriously, you want to show your compassion while being firm.

I agree - you don't want to get in trouble for touching a child!

Physical discipline is out of the question! That is abuse on children! I prefer addressing any behavioural issues with the parents. Even when they give me green light, I still have something pulling me back before applying the rules. I agree that discipline needs to be a fair process otherwise it won't work.

Totally agree with you! I try not to discipline at all when caring for other people's kids, I prefer redirection to take their mind off misbehaving.

I completely agree, I feel weird telling other people's kids what to do... Unless it's something serious.
Normally after the child has gone home, I'll sit my kids down also and talk to them about the other kids behavior, what they thought of it and why they should behave that way.

Good advice, @keciah ! Communication and a level head are the keys. It's good that you've thought so much about this. You must be a great mom. Keep up the good work!

Thanks, @yekrats! Hopefully the info will help others in similar situations. It's can definitely be an awkward issue to handle!

Funny thing. Most of the parents tell me not to be so nice and that I have carte blanche to whip some sense into their troublemaking kids! Lol!

Nice article.



Lol, right?! I haven't had a parent tell me I couldn't discipline their children, but I know it would not work out well if that ever happened. Still, I don't spank anyone else's kids, but I may have to redirect their focus when they are misbehaving in my house.

Ooooo.. That's such a taboo topic to talk about but well done! Most parents would choose to ignore discipline issues. Personally, I would take the child aside and speak to the child about what he /she did wrong

I do the same, @alvinauh, if redirecting all the kids doesn't work. I find it hard to just ignore it, and I wouldn't want that child's antics to rub off on my kids! :)

Ha, I know of a case where none of these suggestions were followed and the arrangement fell apart in epic fashion. No way am I watching anyone's child with no authority to give them consequences!

Me either! I think not having the ability to discipline just sets the entire arrangement up for failure!

Good advice. In today’s world, there is a balancing act between discipline and angry parents. I teach children k-6 on sundays. Fairness and non physical correction are both key as you point out.

Yes, it seems parents get angry easier these days when it comes to their kids. Sometimes, they have the right, but if you are putting your child's care in another person's hands, you should also give them the ability to discipline. I think communication is the most important key -- you have to know what you can and cannot do to another person's child when they are under your supervision.

Well said.Always talk with a child never use violence to make a point!

Exactly! Thank you for stopping by and reading. :)

This is something I am quite apprehensive to do. Maybe because I have seen others scolding my child but protecting theirs. I seriously have no idea how to go about because I'm also first time mother to my first child. Your article is a great help, @keciah :) I will re-read it to really know how to handle such situations next time.

Oh no, I do not like it when any parent plays favorites!! Punish my child if it was only my kid doing wrong, but don't act like yours is an angel if he was participating too!

Your comment reminds me of working in a daycare center. I was in the classroom with the owner's son in it. He would come in eating popsicles or lollipops while the rest of the kids just stared at him, practically drooling. And if you tried to tell the owner about his misconduct, she would just chuckle like it was nothing. It was infuriating!!

Very good advice and I'm so with the discuss it with the other parents. I'm quite big on showing respect to your elders and some of my friends aren't too phased. My one friend has just told me to go ahead and "tune" her son if he's being disrespectful, I tend to keep my mouth shut with his other friends. It can be tough sometimes but in the end my kid knows what I expect from him.

That is the most important thing, @jusipassetti. That your child knows how to behave for you and any other parents!

As a teenager I quit a babysitting job, because the mother wanted me hit the kids when they misbehaved. It went against my nature . I also never understood how physical discipline helped people learn a lesson.

I was spanked some growing up, but I have to agree with you. A child feels the pain for a couple minutes and then they are off to play...likely never grasping what they did wrong. However, discussion and other punishments can help the message sink in loud and clear!

I'd say personally discussion is the most important thing, especially with young children. I have worked in childcare and OSHC before and when I was working with preschool age children (3 - 4) in a childcare often some of the workers would put children in time out and not discuss what happened with them, but when situations like that occurred I spoke to all kids involved rather than just knee jerk punishing them and putting them in time out and I often found out the misbehaviour (which I did address too) was due to earlier social misunderstandings. One example of this was a time when one of the boys hit one of the girls. It turned out he wanted to play chasey (tag) with her but instead of asking her he just chased her and she yelled at him to stop and then he got upset at being yelled at so he hit her. We addressed the fact he shouldn't be hitting people but I also taught him some skills in asking people to play and communicating what he wants to do. If all that happened was that he was put in time out, and the incident wasn't discussed, a similar incident would occur because he wouldn't have been given guidance on how to develop the social skills to initiate a game. It depends on the age of course, but in the early years at least, punishment and rewards play a role but discussion is very important as they may have gaps in social and emotional skills that need addressing.

Then there are those parents just don't give a damn. Not about you or even their own child.

Tell them their kid got into trouble, they will just brush you off and the child will come back the next day and repeat the same thing.

And it is exactly the parent's careless attitude that encourages the child to behave the way they do.

Unfortunately, I know some of those parents too. And I keep my kids away from their children as much as possible. I hate it because it's not their kids' fault he's not being properly parented or taught right from wrong. But, if a child is going to be a heathen when he's at my house, and the parents don't care, he's not welcome here anymore!

Not having kids yet I haven't had to deal with handling behaviour during playdates etc, but I have dealt with behaviour management while working in childcare and OSHC. I will have to deal with this stuff a bit later though as we want to do respite foster care eventually and sometimes you will have to control behaviour, and it may be quite hard behaviour to manage given what the poor kids have been through (which you often don't know what happened, but it's bad enough that they ended up in foster care at least). It's more controlling the situation so neither the child nor anyone else gets hurt etc than discipline as such. They have pretty strict rules on what you can and can't do I believe anyway. It's just a pity you might sometimes get it wrong because you don't know the kid's history, so what you think is a simple and fair punishment is a trigger for them and is traumatic for them and makes them upset and also makes them behave a lot worse. I remember reading about someone who fostered and then adopted a child whom many had given up on and they found the child to be behaved okay for their age at first but then they gave them a time out and told to sit on a chair and that's when they first experienced the behaviour that turned most people off. When they adopted the child they found out what the kid had been through, and part of what they had been through was being tied to chairs for hours on end. That's not the most saddening story I've come across either - but it does show how you can use the wrong discipline techniques when fostering without even knowing because you don't know the kid's experience.

As for how you spoke about physical discipline, I don't agree with smacking etc anyway and I think it is ineffective but that is definitely off the table with foster care, both due to rules but also you'd like to think it's common sense not to hit someone who has been neglected or abused or whatever the case may be. Smacking is pretty ineffective anyway so that's no big loss. I don't intend to smack my own kids let alone foster kids.

Your post is interesting for the unique situation of play dates. It must be a hard one for people to navigate at times and I would imagine there isn't that much information out there about how to deal with discipline during playdates.

Actually, your article seemed very interesting to me, because I have two small children and my eldest daughter regularly brings her friends to the house and there are times when they do their pranks and whether or not I have to intervene and know what is the right way. very important, thanks for sharing because in this process of educating our children we need the greatest help possible, I invite you to visit my blog and I regularly publish publications related to the beautiful art of educating! I already start to follow you!

As a mother and a grandmother, I approve this message! Good advice for those who are still in their child-rearing years! Thanks for sharing this advice in #steemitbloggers 😊

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