I have a small, close group of friends who all have children around the same age. The children all go to the same school and are friends. We frequently rely on each other to watch each other’s children when schedules get hectic and we can’t be in two places at the same time. One evening while having a barbecue at my close friend’s house, her husband mentioned that he disciplines his daughters with a sharp smack on the back end if they misbehave beyond a certain limit. He then said that he wouldn’t hesitate to discipline someone’s else’s child in his home the same way if the situation warranted it. After my initial shock subsided, I looked him square in the eye and said, “You won’t ever hit my girls for any reason.” He got the message loud and clear. Later on I had a long talk with my friend who assured me that we are on the same page as far as disciplining each other’s children, should it ever become necessary.
No one wants to be placed in a situation where you are forced to discipline someone else’s child. At times it may become necessary if this child spends large amounts of time in your home. No child is perfect and no matter how well behaved they are, they all have their moments. I have written this article to state some guidelines for disciplining other people’s children in your home.
Never, Ever Strike Someone Else’s Child For Any Reason. Corporal punishment may be the preferred method of discipline in that child’s home and you may even have permission to give that child a smack if he or she misbehaves. Don’t do it. It is not appropriate to put your hands on other people’s children in that way.
State The House Rules Clearly With No Room For Interpretation. Jumping on the bed may be allowed at your friend’s house, but it isn’t at yours. Let the child know that upfront before your children and your guest go upstairs to play. You can say it in a gentle and fun way. Call it Reminder Time and include your child in the conversation. List the things the children are not allowed to do such as jump on the bed, slide down the stairs and play in the bathroom. Your guest may be free to do all of those things and more at their own home, but in your home, your rules go.
Gently Remind The Child Of The Rules The First Time One Is Broken. A gentle but firm reminder usually does the trick. Children generally behave better in someone else’s home but can get rambunctious while playing and break a rule now and then.
Remove The Child From The Activity If The Rules Are Broken A Second Time. You don’t necessarily have to call it a time out, but instructing the child to take a break from playing and sit down on a chair or step for a few minutes away from the activity will get the message across. Each situation is different and you will need to assess each situation individually. If it is a harmless misstep, you may just want to give a second reminder. If the offense is more serious and could cause potential harm to the child or to another child, that needs to be addressed more urgently.
If The Child Was Acting Out In a Disrespectful Or Destructive Way, Let The Parents Know When They Return. Every parent needs to know if their child misbehaves in someone else’s home. They can then deal with it in their way to ensure the behavior is not repeated on the next visit.
It can be awkward to discipline other people’s children in your home. It can occasionally be necessary, however, to ensure the safety and maintain the harmony for all during a visit.