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When Another Parent Disciplines Your Child

When Another Parent Disciplines Your Child

At one time or another, most moms have been in a situation, whether at a park, preschool picnic or in your own backyard, when another kid is pushing and shoving your child or behaving so badly that you feel compelled to say or do something. Instead, you bite your tongue and hope the aggressor's mom will race to the rescue.

But what happens when the mom of your child's playmate doesn't feel compelled to keep her comments to herself and starts scolding your child, or tells your preschooler to take a time out?

Is it okay for someone else to discipline your child? Should you sit silent and let it happen?

What Gives Anyone the Right to Yell at My Child?

Many Circle of Moms members find this to be a tricky question, but with few exceptions (and they are primarily for dangerous behaviors) they say that another parent who has an issue with the behavior of their children should defer to them for discipline. "What gives anyone the right to yell at my child?" asks Robyn B. "Let me be the one to tell my child 'no.' I don't think it's right at all."

Sharalyn F. agrees that it's not okay for someone else to discipline her child. "In no way will someone yell at my child, friend or foe," she says. "I am Mama Bear and anyone who raises an octave in their voice box to my baby cub will be in big trouble."

Megan B. recalls an incident when her brother yelled at her daughters, and how upset it made her. "I think other people need to worry about their own children," she says. "My brother is my big brother and I know he thinks he is trying to help because my husband works a lot, but still, he does not have the right to scold my three daughters."

When it comes to correcting your child's behavior, it is no one else's business and it is not their job, stresses Patricia, mother of a preschooler. She has a long-time friend who yells at her son at the drop of a hat: "Every time my son even touches her child, before I can do anything, she is yelling at him, telling him NO don't do that... if I am standing right there, I should be the one to talk to him about what he's doing. She has made my son cry a few times.."

Their House, Their Rules

But some Circle of Moms members say "your house, your rules," and by extension, "their house, their rules." In other words, if you and your child are guests in someone else's home, it is okay for that mom to discipline your child. "I'm completely fine with it," says Lisa F. "[Kids] have to learn at an early age they have to listen to reasonable adults such as teachers, and if I'm in their house, it's their rules. The same for mine." Krystal S. agrees: "My daughter knows if I'm not the closest adult around her, then its whoever is that will reprimand her." She adds:"I have a very small group of friends and my daughter knows that anyone of them can put her in time out or tell her not to do something. I believe that I am teaching her to respect adults not just mom and dad."

Other Circle of Mom members, like Kali M., say that the only reason to get involved in disciplining someone else's child is if the situation is dangerous. "No one has any right to say anything to your child, unless you are sitting there not really caring what your child is doing and if her child is in extreme danger," she says.

Her 19-month-old logs many hours at the playground, but she has "never yelled at anyone's child even when that child is hitting mine." Instead, she waits a minute or two to see if the other parent will intervene, and if not, says something to the parent before removing her son to a different part of the playground.

So what's the best way to deal with parents who you don't want disciplining your child? Some Circle of Moms members stress that you have a choice to make for your own child. If you don't like how another parent is behaving towards your child, take your child out of the situation.

Mom to Mom

"I just limit my time visiting those parents," says Megan B. "I don't want to be around them if they feel that they need to step in and discipline my child... I would never do that to someone else's kids."

Several Circle of Mom members say that the best approach to putting a stop to other parents disciplining your child is to confront them directly. "I think you should tell your friend how you feel about her telling your child what to do," says Kristy. "If you aren't good enough friends for her to know that you don't appreciate her doing this, then you will have to let her know. I personally don't like it when people take it upon themselves to tell my children what to do either, or even tell me their opinions. But I have learned to take their opinions in stride and move on. "

Finding the right balance in relationships with other moms and their children when your children are venturing out into the world for the first time as preschoolers can be challenging, many Circle of Moms members agree. And, discipline is an especially sensitive issue.

"I think it's a thin line," says Morgan B. "I wouldn't yell at someone's child and would expect that [no]one would yell at mine. But I don't see an issue with someone else calmly telling a child of yours to be careful or watch out."

In the end, most Circle of Moms recommend focusing on your own child. "If someone else's child hurt my child, I would comfort my child from the fall, and blow it off," says Heather W., adding that she expects the same from other moms. "Kids get excited and stuff happens. But if a mom yelled at my kid, I would say something to her." Chelsea G. agrees: "You need to tell your friend not to do that. No one but you should punish your child."

How do you tell a friend or family member not to discipline your child?

Image Source: Yo Chicago! via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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BrandiPerry BrandiPerry 2 years

My 16 month old baby pushed my friends daughter so she pushed him so hard he fell backwards. She told me she wasn't sorry because I didn't do anything about it. By do something about it she meant slap him. I remove him rom the situation and tell him no. She called him a bully. Is it me or is that not the most outragous thing you've ever heard? My son is a baby. He can't even talk yet!

AurelasRainsong1382721705 AurelasRainsong1382721705 2 years
My little one is only 2, so we have not had as many opportunities for this problem to arise as many have had. So far, when others have disciplined my child, it has largely been right in front of me, which I would probably find annoying if it were not that my girl is FAST and even with her two feet away from me she can get into things faster than I can catch her. I welcome help kindly given, especially from family and friends. I would not welcome shouting or grabbing at her unless they were necessary to prevent an accident (for instance, if she were about to fall off of something or put something dangerous into her mouth). So far I have entrusted to no one the use of corporal punishment of any kind with her and would be angry if anyone else did without my permission. A stern word usually works better with her and she is already quite timid around those she doesn't know very well. Cursing at my child is out of the question for everyone, and I firmly believe no child should be cursed out. If someone hit my child or cursed at her I know I would be furious, but I hope I would be able to set a good example for her by not turning it into a Springer Show episode, whatever my innermost thoughts might be at the moment. As to me...lol I admit that I am in some ways a discipliner of other people's children. I started teaching Sunday school and VBS at the age of 13 and was a substitute teacher for years, so when I am in a store and a kid comes tearing down the aisle (with no parent in view) I find myself going into teacher mode and sternly saying "No running inside." I don't realize I've done it until I already have done it lol. Some parents who appear from behind displays look offended but so far none have complained. The sad thing is, though, usually there are no parents appearing from behind displays. Working for years in retail I have seen that many parents send their children--even toddlers--into the toy department or children's book section "to play" while they shop for their own needs elsewhere. The results tend to be broken toys scattered everywhere or pages torn out of books--none of which is ever paid for by the parents. Some even encourage the children to hide the damage as best as they can. Never once did I hear a parent scold their child for their behaviour. So yes, I do speak to children who have been abandoned in the store and are destroying things and calmly tell them to stop . "We don't play with the toys here because they belong to the store," or "You know better than that," etc depending on the age. Short and sweet is best. Usually the surprise of an adult actually noticing their actions is enough. Sometimes not even a single word is necessary; I think we all need to remember the value of a good strong disapproving stare ;)
DanaDennis-Chargois1369178830 DanaDennis-Chargois1369178830 3 years
I absolutely believe it takes a village to raise a child, with a few exceptions of course. Obviously its not appropriate for an adult to scream or use profanity when disciplining regardless if its my kid or there own, that being said if my Neighbor or a parent at the pool etc. Sees my son or daughter doing something wrong like bullying or teasing maybe dangerous dives or running across the street without looking I expect them to re enforce good behaviour, please correct them especially if you notice I didn't see what happened. Depending on what happened its not always necessary to alert the parent. This past Saturday I did just what I've said. There were 4. Boys and 2 girls all in 7th grade at the table next to me, the biggest one began to punch another in his back. I looked up after the first hit and they straightened up, a minute later I heard another hit. Hard! I said son don't hit him again, its not appropriate, I assumed a woman at a nearby table was his mom as she was looking at me so I apologised saying I couldn't just sit there and watch what was happening. She agreed however she didnt know the kids. A few minutes passed without incident they got up to swim again when I noticed the smaller kid had 3 huge purple bruises on his back. When they returned about 30 minutes later all nonsense resumed. This time because I was there they just watched and acted like they were going to hit him. I very calmly said please don't hit him I don't want to report you but I will. One little girl said with major attitude "his moms over there" I looked she wasn't paying any attention, she was tanning drinking beer. I didn't say a word. I guess they got the hint not to hit him and when I looked up the big one actually sprayed sunscreen into the kids eye a from 3 inches away. Again mom wasn't paying any attention I got up stood an inch from the big one while calling the lifeguard. He was asked to leave when his mom finally got up. She was upset that I thought bruising the kids back and spraying aerosol sunscreen point blank in his eyes was a big deal, she actually said "they're just boys .. I wonder: if her kid got the spray if she would feel the same. So she told her son "its ok I'll take you and your friends to the waterpark" not only did she not think he was wrong she rewarded him for horrible behaviour! That's what's wrong with kids today, Helicopter parents. You're only doing a world of harm to your kids, what will they become? Very sad.
KimAslin KimAslin 4 years
What I do is go over to the children and ask them nicely to stop, I have had where one parent has shouted at my child and I said there is no need to shout is there, just a few words- ok I went off my head 1st saying don't you dare tell off another person's child, but shouting is not an option.
DianePierce DianePierce 4 years
What do you do then if the other child is hitting/ kicking your child and the parent is no where to be found. I got reamed by a parent who finally showed up when I asked her son to quit kicking my then one year old and pushing her down. I was probably in the wrong, I will admit, when I told her that if she didn't want others telling her child not to hit then perhaps she should parent up and be there to tell him herself.
AmberHampton99687 AmberHampton99687 4 years
This is what I believe.. If I'm NOT around and my child is doing something harmful to themselves or others, I would want someone else to jump in. However, MOST of the time I chalk it up to ADULT BULLIES!!!!!!! That's right, ADULT BULLIES. I've seen it to many times, that adults will see an opertunity to make themselves powerful for that time by using an unfortunate situation.
jaimiemcneill jaimiemcneill 5 years
I have no problem laying down the law in my house. I do it in a respectful way, reminding the children that we do not throw in my house (or hit, scream etc) And if a parent is not watching their child at the park I also dont have a problem telling another child that it is not nice to hit or that they need to wait their turn before going down the slide etc. So long as your not yelling at another persons child I think its ok. Just do it tactfully.
kateshea kateshea 5 years
really......you are putting your hands on my kids because they are putting water on your kid at a water park. Just say to the 4 yr old boy "honey, where's your mom". I was 10 ft away between 3 kids. Come on
AndreaSzabo AndreaSzabo 5 years
I had an issue with older kids taking advantage of the little ones. Not letting them take turns, cutting in etc. They were old enough that their parents were not there to watch them. I was making sure my 3-4 year old didn't get hurt, pushed off and I played with him in lieu of a play partner. The big kids just came over and started showing, not lining up. It was OK when they were pushing same size and age kids, but not when it came to the issue of lining up and taking turns and refusing to let the 4 year olds go. I was getting really pissed off and I did say that when there are so many kids who want to play the same thing, they need to line and up wait their turns. Older kids know this and they know how to do it. I expect them to remember when their parents are not watching. I asked if my 4 year old could take his turn because he was there first and my heart was breaking watching him stand aside and listen to what the big kid told him "it's my turn". Well no it was not his turn and I intervened. Even little kids know when things are not fair and I don't think I was being rude to the older ones. I most definitely was not yelling, but corrected the behavior. My kid took his one turn and then we said bye bye monkey bars, bye bye sand, bye bye playground and we left. Playgrounds are a drag when the older kids hang around the little kids' structures and you can't say anything because it is a public property. But I will speak for fairness and I model to my child how to resolve the problem. I had a very bad story with a mom, OMG. She purposefully made noise in her car and let her kid honk, even encouraged him while my 2 babies were napping in the car. We drove around for hours trying to get them to fall asleep. I was crying by the time they fell asleep. We parked in front of a store so my DH could get something done so we couldn't just leave until he came back. I didn't have the car key either. He came back and I told him in the car let's go because I am worried they will wake up from that stupid kid honking the car. Apparently she read my lips, she couldn't hear me for sure because both cars had the windows closed, and we were not parked directly beside each other, because she got mad at me and put her kid on the steering wheel so they both could honk. Obviously she was getting revenge, how mature. I got out of the car and went to her to ask her what the problem was and to stop and explain myself, but she locked the car and she yelled at me that she was going to call the cops if I touched her car. WTF? Touch her car? Because she saw that I called her kid stupid. She didn't even want to hear my side of the story and I would have apologized if she had listened. I am not a violent person, I was not going for the nose and I didn't look for a fight. I had not slept for more than 2 hours per night for 3 months and I couldn't cope. I can't believe that a mother would be so cruel to another. Can't she remember how it was when she had a newborn who couldn't fall asleep? I had colicky twins and it was hell. The last thing I needed was another woman making my life more difficult than it already was. Honestly, parents are the worst when it comes to problem resolution. Kids are told what to do when they are learning but parents can be outright nasty in the name of being a mother bear. What was she teaching her child with that reaction? That kid will probably grow up thinking it is OK to beat someone up. There is a difference between being protective and being a rude bitch. Anyway, I don't have an issue of other parents telling my kid to stop an unwanted behavior. Obviously no yelling, but anyone can remind them how to behave properly. Discipline means to teach. Yelling and belittling isn't teaching, it's harassment.
AmyBond AmyBond 5 years
If the kids are doing something that is a danger to themselves or others I will step in and hope that other parents would too. However, The other day I found one of my neighbors grilling my nephew and when I asked what the problem was I was told to mind my own business. after reminding him that this was my nephew and that made him my business, I was told to shut up and go back in my house. Does anyone else feel he had the right to say this to me? Do I have the right to step in to defend my nephew if his Mom is not close by?
DawnAllen69827 DawnAllen69827 5 years
If a child is misbehaving or not playing by the rules then of course they should be pulled up and told off (not yelled at, though if you are standing a distance away this may be necessary if a threat is posed to another child). If i heard that an adult had had to tell my child off then she would get an additional telling off from me too. We all need to teach our kids right from wrong. As a parent you aren't going to be with your kids 24-7 and they need to learn how to behave outside their immediate home environment and to treat other people when you aren't around. If this behaviour goes unchecked then the other parent is essentially condoning it. Another parent may not mind their child using certain language. But if i feel that it is unacceptable I will tell them, mainly because I don't want my child to be exposed to it or think the words are o.k. to use but also because I care about all children in society. Ignoring bad behaviour is not going to help grow a great future generation and community. Your kid will not be damaged by being told off but will remember it next time they think about pushing in, hitting etc. If a kid know's that their parent will react to them being disciplined by anyone else will just behave how they like when you aren't there. They have to play by society's rules and not just your house rules.
JoPoindexter JoPoindexter 5 years
I personally do not have a problem if someone wants to constructively correct my child. A simple "that is not appropriate behavior" will do, I haven't ever had anyone outside the family correct her, but I have corrected plenty of children....not by yelling but by getting down on their level looking at them and trying to get to the bottom of the problem....Some parents don't see the child's behavior as bad, when I do....but hitting, kicking, spitting, screaming, etc is not acceptable behavior and they will continue to do it until they are corrected.
JeanetteGodreau JeanetteGodreau 5 years
The entire article is ridiculous. I wonder what kind of education and background the people that were giving their opinons have? I will hope that most people won't take them seriously. I also wonder about these parents that believe that they are the only voice of reason in the adult world and therefore should be the only one to discipline their child. I hope that these parents are well read on all of the best child psychology and child-raising literature (which is EVER changing). I am an extremly educated parent and work in the education field and still welcome advice or help in raising my child - I am constantly reading up on the latest child psychology and best practice - and I have lots to learn. One comment was very thoughtful and straight forward. The author stated that she allows any adult that is at arms length to her child to discipline her daughter. She is absolutly correct that this teaches children to respect adults. Children have many other adults in their lives other than their parents. If they are not made aware that these adults are better decision makers (in general) they will not learn to respect adult authority - hence part of the problem in the education system these days. Children run rampant and don't respect adults because their parents have made them aware they don't have to listen to other adults. I watched two 8 year old girls charge another from behind last week on the field at soccer. The little girl landed on her face with a mouth full of mud and grass. The other two little girls ran away giggling...I spoke to them as the child went howling in pain to her mother. Later the other mother was speaking to them and I verified what had happened. The two bullies were lying their pretty little faces off. So the truth came out and the children were told it was not ok to do what they did (not by me but the other parent). Later the parent of one of the bullies came up to me and verbally attacked me because her daughter (the bully) was crying???? I told her what happened and she totally denied it!?! (she was on the other side of the field btw). She then went back to her daughter and comforted her...now you tell me if this parent knows what the heck she is talking about. The grand consenses here seems to be that noone should speak to other peoples children. I believe that this is a inherent problem with society these days. I don't believe when people are saying disciplining children that they question implied they were beating them??? Simply speaking to a child (harshly or not) will not scar them, and if it is that extreme then the other parent needs to consider whether they would allow the other parent to supervise their child independantly, not just discipline them. It takes a village to raise a child.
FeliceManitoken FeliceManitoken 5 years
if another mom see's something i don't, or my kid is being mean to their kid, i feel they have all rights to discipline my child, as long as they don't spank them. i think that moms are supposed to help each other out. it makes life easier.
SusanHeideWexell SusanHeideWexell 5 years
I think that there is a huge difference between yelling at a child and correcting or disciplining a child. I personally have no problem with someone correcting my child if they see something that is deserving! They need to know that they are to be respectful and listen to adults in any setting...if they aren't sure, my child or the other adult should refer it to me.
JenniferWalsh46124 JenniferWalsh46124 5 years
Well, I think there's a difference between yelling at my child and disciplining them. There are always times when you don't see everything going on and if my child was clearly doing something he shouldn't be, or was dangerous, or wasn't being nice to someone else...as long as the Mom handled in a respectful way I wouldn't have a problem. I may be a little old fashioned, but I remember growing up having alot of respect for all adults in my life and I remember parents friends telling us when we were doing something wrong and I know my parents welcomed that....b/c they can't be everywhere. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes even more to raise a respectful child. I want my child to respect adults in their lives no matter who they are and I feel that respect comes with a tiny bit of fear. :) But bottom line I would never allow another mother to disrespect my child or yell at him, but telling him to stop throwing sand, or doing any other unacceptable behavior I don't have a problem with. I'm also constantly around family, siblings, nieces and nephews and everyone at one time or another has had to discipline someone else's child but as long as it's done with love and respect it's fine. The more people my child thinks is watching his behavior....the better behaved I think he will be!
PaulaRowinski PaulaRowinski 5 years
There seems to be a lot of yelling by other moms with this article. I would say that yelling would escalate any situation. I have disciplined another child at the park when the child grabbed a toy from my daughter while she was playing with it. I simply asked "Please can I have my daughter's toy back?" He responded with a "NO!" I had to get down to his level and ask again and work reason. I had no help from the mom as she simply looked onto the situation until it ended. I did not yell.
ShawnaMoore ShawnaMoore 5 years
I feel like if my son is misbehaving I will be the first to remedy it but please don't step on my toes and think another person can scold my son. Not appreciated and I will not take it.
BridgieTwomey BridgieTwomey 5 years
If it takes a village to raise a child then do not use that as an excuse to discipline another ones child unless you left in care of that child.All want to discipline but who wants to in courage or just help out.Move your child from the situation I hate others getting involved not their job.
CoMMember13613651062435 CoMMember13613651062435 5 years
Every situation warrants accurate judgement for that situation but I would sooner speak to another child before letting them hurt my daughter or any other child. If their parents don't see the problem, I will speak even toned to the other child to let them know that treating others that way is not acceptable. No punishment, no yelling. Just tell the child kindly to stop messing with so and so. Usually the shock of a stranger telling them to do something is enough. If they don't stop, I will find the parent and let them know what's going on. Pool saftey is more important than proper etiquette.
JenniferBray8323 JenniferBray8323 5 years
If I'm not around to see my child misbehaving, then please discipline my child. I don't want someone yelling at my child but if they need a time out and to be told what they are doing wrong then I don't mind another parent doing it when I'm not around to. But if I am with my child, I would appreciate the other parent letting me know my child has done something wrong if I didn't see the incident. I don't think it is ok for a child to hit my child or my child to hit another child and not be disciplined. I guess I would make another parent mad. I have scolded a child (without screaming) at the park for hitting my child before. I told them that it was wrong and asked them where their parent was. Then I spoke with the parent about it. I thought this was perfectly fine to do. I don't understand someone getting upset over this.
StacyFord17439 StacyFord17439 5 years
I have had this problem mainly at the local Children's Museum during field trips. I tell the kid to stop once and if they don't I tell them to leave the area, find their teacher and bring her to ME. I usually don't see them again.
MelindaAnderson76280 MelindaAnderson76280 5 years
My feeling is that it totally depends on the situation and the person. I admit I have been guilty of saying something to someone else's child but usually only when it involved someone getting hurt or when it directly invloves one of my children. With my sister and I we both feel that if we see any of our children need doing something they shouldn't we step regardless if they are hers or mine. Regarding people I don't know I feel they have no buisiness saying anything to anyone's children other than their own unless danger is involved.
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