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Is it Ever Okay to Discipline Other People's Children?

Is it Ever Okay to Discipline Other People's Children?

Is it Ever Okay to Discipline Other People's Children?

Is it ever permissible to discipline someone else’s child? While there’s no black-and-white answer, Circle of Moms members have helped tease out some of this tricky issue’s different shades of gray.

When Safety is at Stake

For starters, countless moms agree that safety is more important that potentially offending another parent, and so reprimanding—even shouting at—another child is acceptable if the behavior is causing a safety threat. 

For example, when unsupervised 8-year-olds were rough-housing in the public kiddie pool, Jodi A. quickly intervened:  “I approached them and told them to stop their rough play because they were scaring the younger children and they almost hit my daughter. They didn't stop, so I went to the lifeguard. He dealt with it, and ended up removing them from the pool because they had no adult supervision.”


Krista E. agrees: “I don't make a habit of disciplining other peoples' kids, but if the child is a) in danger of hurting himself, or b) being aggressive with my kid, then you bet your bippy I'll use my mom voice and tell him to cut it out.”

When the Child's Parents are Present

Even if no serious danger is present, many parents believe that doling out some basic discipline to other people's children is acceptable. As Ashley V. relayed: “The way I see it, if I am not watching my kid and someone feels the need to correct them, as long as they don’t cuss at or degrade my child, they have every right to. It takes a village to raise a child and a mother cannot complain when she gets good help!” 

On the other hand, if the misbehaving child’s parents are present, several Circle of Moms members argue that informing the other parent of the behavior is a much better strategy than talking to the child. As Nicole explains: “It is my opinion that other adults should speak to the parent, not the child, when they witness disturbing, inappropriate behaviour. If the parent still does nothing about it, (you) should either move on, or (if there is some immediate danger to anyone) contact security or the police.”

Many other moms, including Diana H., agree that it's often best to simply distance yourself and your child from a misbehaving child. As she puts it, “I try not to worry about other people's kids, and just remove my own children from the situation - that's all I figure I can control anyway. I let my children know that they don't need to play with children who aren't playing nicely, and we go find something else.”

When the Child's Parents Aren't Around

But what if the misbehaving child is in your home and his parents aren’t present? “I guess it depends on how close you are” to the child's family, says mother of two Heather W., and Geneen E. agrees: “The only way I discipline another child is if I am told I can do so and it has to be a close friend or family member.” 

Or consider Tara C.'s approach: Instead of scolding or disciplining other people’s kids in her house, she simply sends them home: “I will send neighborhood kids home if they are being too rough or not using appropriate language. I usually let people know why this occurred and that I would like them to do the same to my kids if the need arose.”

Have you ever disciplined another person’s child?

katyharris28348 katyharris28348 5 years
I have disciplined someone else's kids from time to time and my philosophy on the situation is if they are going to be in my care then I will discipline them the same way I discipline mine. If mine are with someone else as long as they don't abuse or degrade my child I'm good with it.
LoriSoard LoriSoard 5 years
I know some children I'd like to discipline, because they are completely out of control. However, I don't think it is appreciated, even if it is a kind rebuke to not do something because they might get hurt, so I usually don't.
MelanieMitchell43862 MelanieMitchell43862 5 years
Don't know if I totally agree. My son needed other people to point out his behavioral mistakes as much as he needed us to do it, and if I was standing there, all the more better. As long as it was done respectfully, I never have had a problem with someone else correcting my child. "Excuse me, could you use your inside voice?" He heard that from us so much that it was becoming redundant, and therefore ignored. But the 80 year old lady standing in the grocery checkout line saying it? That got his attention. Suddenly it was "OH! I guess Mom is right! I am loud all the time!" I think we're too oversensitive as parents in this day and age. We feel our parenting skills are being judged. No. Our children make choices that are completely independent of how we raise them. Yes, I have taught my child to be respectful, to not interrupt when someone else is talking, to say please and thank you. But the reality is, they forget in their impulsiveness. Having someone else, even if I'm standing there, say "Um, did you forget to say something? What's the magic word?" or "How about an excuse me?" Yes, it's embarrassing for me to have someone else fix my child's mistake. But in the long run? The more reminders they get from people other than their parents? The better behaved my kids become. When someone comes to me and says "I found your child saying or doing such and such" my knee jerk reaction is to want to defend my kid. But that doesn't help the child. So instead I turn to the child and say "What did you do?" I listen to both sides and make an informed decision of how to go forward, and more often than not? My kids were in the wrong and the adult was right. We've taken such authority away from our teachers in schools because we don't allow others to assist in behaviorally modifying our children. This is ultimately what discipline is: behavioral modification in which our goal as parents is to create a happy, healthy, well-adjusted adult who can care for him/herself when we're not around anymore. The key to allowing someone else to correct my child is respect. The person who is correcting my child should be an adult and they should respect my child as a person, which includes their feelings, personal space, and physical body. Any one who steps over the lines and disrespects any of those three areas, that's when I'll be the mama bear.
QueenKABKidsAgainstBullies QueenKABKidsAgainstBullies 6 years
The way I see it if you don't want others to discipline your child then don't leave them in others care or be with them 24/7. (where ever or when ever) You can't do anything else. When in my care everyone has an understanding in my house or in my care we follow my rules or deal with consequences. If the parents disagree with my beliefs then they don't leave their child in my care.
HeidiRafferty HeidiRafferty 6 years
Yesterday I checked on my child after he walked around the corner to be with his friends. I was horrified to see one child with a baseball bat -- getting ready to haul off and hit him in the back with it while he sat on a tree swing. Four parents were in the front yard, paying no attention. Just as the child was pulling the bat backwards to hit, I yelled his name across the street and demanded he put the bat down. He complied. I immediately took my child from the situation and told him that if the other boys want to play with him, they can do so at our house where they are supervised. The other children refuse to come over here. I suspect it's because they know I won't allow them free rein. My child is upset with me for this, but I explained that his safety comes first. He has Asperger's Syndrome and a speech impediment. He wants friends so badly, that he allows them to make fun of him and mistreat him and returns to them for more play. Because they live near our house, I'm at a loss. He constantly wants to be with them, and I'm constantly having to find ways to allow him to play while protecting him. Very angry with the other parents right now.
MichelleCopeland9418 MichelleCopeland9418 6 years
Sometimes you just have to step in. I have a very close friend and she just seems unable to discipline her own child. He's very rude and often disrespectful and she let's him be that way! He's pretty much an attention whore. If she's in the middle of a conversation he will come and stand between her and whomever she's speaking with and just start talking over anyone, her included(especially her) the most she'll say is"I'm talking now", but what he'll do is continue to talk until she acknowledges him over everyone else and focuses her attention on him. He'll ask to do something or to be given something and when she says no he will stand there and continue to ask and beg and talk until, once again, she gives in. she has a habit of saying no and always going back on her own decision whenever it's not to his liking. The other day I had to FIRMLY discipline him myself right there in front of her when I had had enough. He walked past me as I was talking, stood between her and myself and began talking, she said she was talking and for him to go away, he continued to talk as usual even though I continued talking and he kept talking louder to talk over me so I told him, "Look, you saw me talking and you just bust in and started talking over me! You're supposed to excuse yourself and then wait to be acknowledged, you're being VERY RUDE!" He just rolled his eyes at her and walked away. What did she do??? Nothing, she just continued the conversation as if he never interrupted!! He also is very manipulative and always gets upset when my son and nephew don't want to do what he wants to do so. he also thinks that he can ask his mother if he can go with me or come to my house as if she has a say over who I watch or allow to play at my home. The funniest thing that happened was when we were out shopping and he tried to say he didn't have to listen to anyone that wasn't his parent and my son promptly told him he did because he had to listen to me as well as any other adult that was disciplining him when he was wrong, and it was priceless the shocked look he got on his face when his mother agreed with my son. Then he sulked for a minute after that when the realization had sunk in that she had sided against him! So, in saying all that, I WILL DISCIPLINE ANYONE's CHILD THAT IS RUDE OR DISRESPECTFUL! If you don't like it, do not bring them around me or to my home or better yet, do your job as a parent and do it yourself!!!
LuLuInWaiting LuLuInWaiting 6 years
I have always maintained a 'my house, my rules' policy even before we had children. Especially when my neices were around. And now that I'm a mum, I'll expect the same from other parents when my child is that their place. I remember getting told off, or even smacked, by people who werent my parents. But I only ever complained about it if I knew I was in the wrong. I'd definately say something to another child at the playground or park, but it wouldnt be nasty...more like 'You're hurting my friend, and we'd like you to stop.' If that doesnt work, we'd leave. I wont let my child be bullied out of fun play areas. Also as a pre school teacher I am very black and white about what I expected from the children, although they always helped to set the class rules at the beginning of the year. Whether or not the children have similar rules at home, they know whats expected of them at school and know the consequences if our class rules are not followed ie: ime out, or they miss out on a fun activity.
DanieleSantana DanieleSantana 6 years
This happened to me and I was very upset about what the nanny (not even a parent) did. At the little gym, while waiting in line to get into the class my then 18 month old was standing next to a another child her age and out of nowhere (im not sure why) my child pushed the other little girl, not hard but it clearly upset the other little girl. As Im standing right there in the process of saying no, thats not nice to my own child this nanny swoops down and shakes her finger at my daughter and in a shouting manner repeatedly says "no" not my child. I quickly picked up my daughter who at this point was also upset and went to the back of the line. This "nanny" was seriously trying to reprimand my baby while I was standing right there. I avoided them for the class time and switched my daughter out of that group, I just don't tolerate it esepcially since I am more than capable of telling my own child her behaviour was unacceptable!
LakelaHumphrey LakelaHumphrey 6 years
I have corrected other people's children countless upon countless times. So much so, that my ex-husband used to say, "their parents are sitting right there." Thats the problem. If i see their parents or other adults, doing nothing, im definitely gonna say something. Ive stopped school buses where kids were standing up , jumping over seats and hanging out windows. Ive picked up toddlers wandering thru neighborhoods, older kids walking to school freezing and crying in 10 degree temperatures. Ive stopped kids at the mall that I thought were being truant and asked why they werent in school. Ive told teens to pull up their pants cuz i dont wanna see their drawers. Ive accosted bullies, kids cursing, kids disrespecting their parents, kids having tantrums in the store, you name it Ive done it. I cant stomach disobedient, disrespectful or endangered children. EVERY child I meet becomes mine. I immediate love them. I CANT turn a blind eye.
MarshaMais MarshaMais 6 years
I look it as if the parent is looking right at their kid and their kid pushed either of my children or did something that was preventing the other kids from having fun, which I've witnessed a lot at our park, I or my husband directly say something to the kid. To us, obviously if the parent doesn't care enough to rectify the situation on their own as it's happening, then they won't care to rectify it if I go to them about it first.
CoMMember13631152401602 CoMMember13631152401602 6 years
In the world we live in today there is no such thing as too many eyes!! I feel that it is all our jobs to keep a look out for not only our children but others as well. I have stopped my car in the middle of the street to tell kids to quit tearing something up or get out of the road.. You can not sit by and do nothing when you see a child in danger or endangering someone or something else! maybe they have never have someone give them direction in life and alough you may not get a good response to you input in will not go without being heard! Some parents get hateful because they are embarrassed that their child is acting out in such a manner that they draw attention to themselves..I would not put my hands on another persons child but will direct them in another way if needed!!
ngwplinda ngwplinda 6 years
I believe my greatest challenge comes about when such situations arise and no adults were there to supervise, or even if there were, no one was vigilant to do so, for instance in preschool.
This is the problem with kids now. It is all about their rights. What happened to the adults right to have peace and expect respect and yes even a little fear of what will happen if I get caught doing this. That is the problem everybody thinks their little Johnny or Suzy wouldn't do such a thing. Believe me they do and you need to check yourself if you are the parent that wants to defend bad behavior and then wonder later on why you have an obnoxiuos brat. Sorry but we need to get back to discipling our kids or there will be a lot more horrible adul;ts out there defending bad behavior.
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