Child discipline: When is it okay to discipline other children?

Child discipline: When is it okay to discipline other children?

Child discipline has always been a sticky subject, even more so when the children concerned aren't your own! Read this to know how to deal with other kids.

When is it right to discipline other kids?

When is it right to discipline other kids?

We’ve all experienced situations in which someone else’s child impinged on our very last nerve. Whether it’s a screaming toddler in the grocery store, a mean bully in the park or simply a disrespectful tween who blatantly breaks house rules.

We’ve all felt tempted to march over to “that kid” and give them a piece of our mind. But when is it appropriate to do so? Should adults turn a blind eye to misbehaving children lest we incur the wrath of their overprotective parents?

Here are some tips to consider when dealing with other people’s children.

Always remember:

Speak to the parent first if they are present

If a child is being mean to your child, or disobeying your house rules, always approach their parent first if they are present. That way, they can discipline their child in a way that they feel most comfortable.

Try not to use a judgmental tone and phrase your concern as a question so it doesn’t seem like you’re demanding them to take action. Something along the lines of, “Would you mind asking your child to…”, might work well.

Be direct and refrain from handing out unwarranted advice

If other parents are not present and you’re addressing a group of children, try to be as succinct and direct in your approach. Do not make any personal attacks or single out any of the children.

For example, if children are handling a valuable object carelessly, a simple, “Children, please put down that vase now,” will suffice. Be as firm as you can, stand your ground and offer suggestions for other more appropriate activities the children should do instead of playing with fragile items.

Common scenarios

House parties

If you’re having a party where there’ll be children present, remember to go over your house rules before the party starts. Doing this in front of their parents is fine, as house rules are common and most parents will not see this as you disciplining their children.

Lay out the rules clearly and in a simple manner that children can understand. Rules like “No fighting, share all the toys, don’t touch furniture with dirty hands, no mean language allowed” are good ones to have.

Bullies in school/park/playground

Bullying has become such a huge issue in this day and age and it can even lead to young children taking their own lives to escape from constant taunting.  If you see a group of children taunting, bullying or harassing another child, you should step in and help the other child, especially if there is any kind of violence involved.

If you find yourself feeling embarrassed or self-conscious to take action, try to imagine that your child is the one being bullied in this situation. That should change your mind right away.

If children are in their school uniform, try to get their names or look at their name tags so that you can alert the school principal that you witnessed an act of bullying by his students.

Children abusing or mistreating animals

This is another scenario where adults should step in. Explain to the children that what they’re doing is extremely wrong and ask them how they would feel or someone did that to them. Children should learn to exercise empathy towards animals and children that are more vulnerable than them.

If the animal is badly injured, try to get it to the nearest animal shelter or veterinarian as well. This will set a good example for the children and show them that all their actions have consequences.

Screaming toddler/child on airplane

This is a common one. We all know how difficult it can be to travel with a young child. But when you’re trying to grab some shuteye on a 13-hour flight and the toddler next to you won’t stop screaming, it can be difficult to keep your cool.

However, this is one scenario in which adults should keep their nose out of, unless they have a surefire suggestion to help the parents calm down their child. Chances are, the parents already feel guilty about their child’s behavior and you chiming in to discipline their children will be a bad idea.


Have you ever disciplined another parent’s child? Why and how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section.

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Sinulat ni

Johnny P

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