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Should a parent discipline other people’s children?

Mama Kat

In this installment of Tough Love, Mama Kat from Mama’s Losin’ It offers advice of disciplining other people’s children.

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Misbehaving kids

Tough Love with Mama Kat

The question

I can’t handle kids who aren’t my own who misbehave while they’re at my house playing with my kids. I can barely handle it when my own kids misbehave. I’m not sure what’s appropriate as far as telling other people’s children what’s up and how to act when they’re playing at my house. Help me!

Mama Kat answers:

Learn how to put your foot down

My mom used to have a mug that said, “You give ’em an inch and they’ll think they’re a ruler.” I would watch her sip her coffee, puzzled by the meaning of this mug she seemed to choose more often than not. As if it was some kind of inside joke. An inside joke she apparently had with a mug… or whoever printed that quippy little message on it.

I need that mug.

I finally get it. Kids have no impulse control. If they want to do something they will push and push and push until you finally put your foot down. The key is learning how to put your foot down…and realizing that you need to set boundaries and put your foot down from the moment a new child enters your home.

I learned this the hard way when I accepted a five year old into my home daycare which predominately consisted of two to three year olds at the time. My own daughter was ten months old and this boy was on the rambunctious side. The three year olds would crawl through a make-shift tunnel and he would bull doze it down. I politely asked that he settle down, but I did not feel comfortable yelling at him or even firmly insisting he remove himself from the area.

One day my baby was scrambling to boost herself onto our couch and the five year old boy put his hand over her face and shoved her backwards. She fell back on our hardwood floors and hit her head on a table on the way down.

I was furious. How in the world had I allowed this child’s behavior to escalate to the point where he felt shoving a baby was acceptable? Thankfully my baby was fine, but I was not. I made a choice that day.

I am my child’s only advocate and if I am present then I must do my best to ensure a safe environment and demand respect for her when she cannot. The same goes for myself and my property. My rules are clear when children come over now. They may not put their hands on one another, period. They may not chase my dog up and down the hallways. You may think I’m crazy, but they may not run up and down my hallways at all. Ever.

Set rules and boundaries

When kids come to my home to play or for daycare or for whatever reason, they know that I do not give inches. When rules are broken they are given one chance.

“Hey bud, we don’t run in the hallways here. If you do it again you’re going to have to take a time out.”

And then they take time outs. When I decided to stop being a push over and to start asserting myself as the ruler of this fine castle, the craziest thing happened…the children started behaving. They listened to me!!! They want to follow directions. They want to be good kids and when I am consistent with the rules and my expectations…they are good kids!

It’s not about what their parents allow them to do at home or what their parents deem “okay” behavior. If the behavior endangers my kids or my property in any way, you can be sure I will speak up. Regardless of where we are and regardless of what other parents are present, I will speak up. I gave these kids inches and they did act like rulers… and nobody wants to be ruled by a child. So I took the inches back.

  About Tough Love

Tough LoveWe’re taking your parenting questions and asking for advice from some of the web’s most popular mom bloggers. These thoughtful moms are not afraid to tell you exactly what they think. The result? Tough Love.

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