How do you feeling when someone else disciplines your child right in front of you? Does it make a difference who that person is or your relationship to them? Does it make a difference where it is; in their home, your home, in public?
If there’s ever a topic bound to get everyone’s knickers in a twist it’s that of disciplining someone else’s child. Is it right or wrong? In certain circumstances only? Only if it’s a friend or relative? The entire debate is fraught with potential upset, bad feeling and conflict, so what should you do if someone else disciplines your child?
Firstly, check on your child. Physically disciplining someone else’s child is never okay. If your child is hurt, in physical danger or extremely upset then immediately remove them from the situation – you can deal with the person involved later.
Secondly, take a breath. Did they try and let you or your partner deal with it first and you didn’t respond? Was your child participating in behaviour that was dangerous to themselves or others? How would you have reacted if the situation was reversed? These situations always require a cool head. Explain to the disciplinarian that in future you would like them to defer to you (or your partner) first to handle the situation, that discipline from an adult not the child’s caregiver should only occur if danger is imminent, and even how you would have handle things if it was their child.
You might be totally fine with ‘their house, their rules’ but if you’re not then you might want to rethink spending time there with your child. Some parents are fine with close friends and family disciplining their child, particularly if you have the same values and parental style, but just remember not everyone is the same. Discuss the rules of the house before leaving your child at someone else’s house or in their care.They are your child, so it’s up to you to set the rules of who, when, where, and why your child is disciplined; if the person you are leaving them with disagrees with your ground rules, ask if you can stay (play dates, birthday parties, visiting grandparents) or rethink your child’s attendance.
The best way to ensure that no one else feels the need to discipline your child is to be constantly aware of what’s going on and make sure that you deal with situations, in your way, before they get out of hand. We all have different views on discipline so there will never be hard and fast rules that suit everyone and every situation. Vigilance and understanding are required. And don’t forget to breathe.