When is it ok for you to discipline someone else’s child?

Share this article with other moms

Is it ever ok to discipline someone else's child? What are the boundaries?

If you encounter plenty of kids on a regular basis, you’ll likely come across bad behavior that’d make you want to intervene. But the reality is, we can’t just step in and start disciplining other people’s children—how would you feel if a complete stranger went up to your child and started scolding them?

So what you should do when you see a playground bully messing around with your child? Alan Kazdin, author of The Everyday Parenting Toolkit, told Fatherly that there are only two situations when you can intervene with someone else’s child:

(1) When someone’s life is in danger.
(2) If you know the child and the parent well, and the guidance you’re offering is very minor.

discipline someone else's child

Photo: Shutterstock

Kazdin’s advice is wise—after all, we can’t just go out and discipline every single child we see misbehaving, or we’d make enemies everywhere we go. If we’re never going to see a child again or if the offense is just minor, you can let things slide. But what should we do when the child is a guest at your home? It varies from situation to situation, but here are some helpful rules to help you along, compiled from Parents and Metro Parent.

6 Guidelines to follow when disciplining other people’s kids

1. Don’t lose your cool

Even if the child does something dangerous or destructive, don’t ever spank or yell. Correct his behavior calmly, but don’t punish.

2. Agree on consequences beforehand

If you’re going to be in charge of someone else’s kid, talk to the parent first about the rules and discipline strategies beforehand.

Read more tips on disciplining other people’s kids on the next page.

Discipline Family Life Discipline tips