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?
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.