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Why I feel comfortable disciplining your kids at my house

Amy Smalarz

How many of you are at the stage of playdates with your kids — or as my two boys like to call them, hangout sessions? My kids are 7 and 8 years old, and they are full of life and energy and, well, energy! Their friends are no exception.

More: I gave away my son’s toys to charity in anger — and I don’t regret it

The pros and cons of living in a close-knit neighborhood

We are fortunate to live at the end of a cul-de-sac, so the circle is basically an extension of our yard — and it’s great. Pretty much any day of the week, our yard looks like some random collection of sports equipment. We always have friends or neighbors at our house, and I absolutely love having a house full of kids playing, laughing, running around — OK, running around outside. It brings me great joy.

Except there are times when kids act up or, worse, don’t show respect to other kids or to me. Respect is something I demand of my boys, and when other kids are at my house, I treat them like my own. I love them, hug them, high-five them and, yes, discipline them.

The rules I expect my kids to follow

We don’t have a strict household, but we do have some basic rules:

  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • Say please and thank you
  • Use your words with one another
  • Take turns
  • No tackling (remember, I have two kids under the age of 10)
  • Listen to and respect the adult in charge
  • Other than that, rule number one is have fun!

More: Why I’m revoking my toddler’s TV privileges

Some parents don’t appreciate my approach to discipline

I have come across times when a parent has called me after their child returned home because I disciplined them — or, heaven forbid, said no to them! Such a situation happened recently, when a child visiting my house started to play on the iPad, and I told him no. Apparently he thought that was just a suggestion because, without acknowledging my request, he continued to play.

Now, I should share that we always have play time when my boys get home, but that does not include electronics.

And so as I mentioned, I treat kids like my own when they are in my home, and this was no exception. While I was upset with what I perceived as disrespect, I counted to five and went over to the young boy and asked, “Did you ask to play with that today?” 

I heard a mumble but no real answer, so I gently reached for the iPad, took it out of his hands and asked him again, “Did you ask to play with that today?” 

Now I had his attention! I could see his confusion. I had actually taken the iPad mid-game. For the next few minutes, we proceeded to have a conversation, at which point he seemed a bit exasperated and said, “So, do I get to play with the iPad at all today?”

When I said no, he stomped off for a few minutes and proceeded to play basketball outside with my boys for about an hour until his parents came to get him.

Working together makes us all better parents

It takes a village to raise children, and it takes parents who are loving, kind and responsible. Our kids don’t need to get away with everything and, yes, they need discipline.

It may not be the norm or popular to provide boundaries, especially when the kids aren’t yours. But when you visit my house or if you are a parent or caregiver dropping your child off at my house, you can know I will treat them as my own. I will give them hugs, smile and laugh with them and help them when they may not be making the best choices. Like I said before, it takes a village to raise our children, and I’m happy to be doing my part!

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