It used to be said that it took a village to raise a child. But, not every parent shares that village view anymore, particularly when it involves disciplining other people’s children. Whether you’re dealing with a playdate-gone-bad or a step-child who is crossing the line, remember, it’s OK to set limits and ask others to abide by them.
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. I’m terrible at this myself. Take last weekend: My nine-year-old son was having a playdate with the child of a family friend. During a heated game of monopoly, the friend told my little four-year-old, “You’re dumber than dumb.”
I looked at my four-year-old, who was fighting back tears and then at the friend, who was looking down to avoid eye contact. Instead of saying something, I froze.
We have a “no putdown” rule in our house. When my children break that rule, there are consequences. But what happens when someone else’s child breaks that rule? I called Empowering Parents’ Coach Becky Staples to ask her advice on the Dos and Don’ts of setting and following through on limits with other people’s children. She had some great tips:
Becky left me with a wonderful piece of advice, a new way of looking at these tricky situations: “Think of those stepping-over-the-line moments as an opportunity to model for your children how to set limits when someone says or does something that crosses the line.” She’s right. With these Dos and Don’ts in my back pocket, I don’t think I’ll freeze again.
What do you think? Have you ever had to discipline someone else’s child?
Jennifer is freelance writer for The Wall Street Journal and several national magazines. Earlier in her career, she was a journalist for “60 Minutes.” She lives in New York with her husband and their three children, ages 9, 7 and 4. You can read her other work at www.JenniferBWallace.com.