Disciplining Other People’s Children

4 kids smiling in library

We’ve all seen it. Experienced it. Sometimes painfully – a complete display of obnoxious behavior by someone else’s kid.

Maybe in a checkout line. Or the candy aisle. Or at a school event or party.

For most of us, it takes a lot of willpower to not take over and manage the situation. Divvy out some discipline. Give that child a piece of your mind.

Of course, you don’t. Because that would be inappropriate and awkward. There are boundaries to respect, after all.

However, there are two scenarios when it is appropriate to intervene:

1. If the Child is in Danger

If a child is in immediate danger, then of course, you should intervene swiftly and without hesitation.

This applies to a child running into a street, playing with a dangerous object, or doing something that is unequivocally unsafe.

However, this doesn’t necessarily apply if a kid is extending himself on a playground–attempting physical challenges that some parents may deem unsafe. If the child’s parent is present and watching, then you can confidently default to their comfort level when it comes to their child’s acrobatic stunts.

2. If the Child is Under Your “Watch”

In this case, you must still act with extreme care.

In a situation where you are hosting a play date or babysitting another child, here are a few ways to set yourself up for success…

Define the Parameters

Ask the child’s parent to share any house rules THEY have for their children, and then ask how they’d like you to handle discipline if those rules are broken.

Gauge the parent’s temperament on how they handle discipline. Naturally, if the other parent’s form of discipline is outside what you believe to be appropriate or respectful, keep to your Positive Parenting strategies.

Talk About YOUR House Rules (and the Consequences for not Following Them)

Example – When guest children are not playing gently with the toys:

First remind all the kids what “gentle playing” looks like, then explain that if they can’t be gentle, they’ll lose the privilege to play with that toy.

Example – Hitting or fighting

After you calm the situation, brainstorm ways to peacefully resolve the problem. If the hitting or fighting continues, explain that the play date will end, and they can try again another time.

Gain Agreement

Ask the children to repeat back the play date rules and the consequences so everyone is on the same page.

Stay Calm and Carry On

If things go south, respond calmly and focus on solutions to solve the problem. If you have to follow through with a previously revealed consequence, do so without frustration or lecturing.

Communication is Everything

If you do have to implement a consequence, share that with the other parent so she/he hears your version of the story.

Lastly, remember that when we see a child having a meltdown in the aisle or misbehaving, there’s probably a backstory we
don’t know. Maybe she’s overly tired, hungry, or having a bad day.

Just like we’ve had our “less than glowing” moments as parents, our own kids have probably shown their less-than-angelic
sides in public! Be kind in your comments about other children, and encourage your kids to be kind as well.

With your kids and others, keep the lines of communication open and set the boundaries that make sense for your family. When we lead by example, good things happen!

Final Thoughts

I know it can be tricky when you’re navigating friendships with discipline, but the Positive Parenting strategies I teach are effective for all children and won’t leave a sour taste in another parent’s mouth should you intervene.

If you’d like to learn more discipline strategies that actually work I’d love for you to JOIN ME FOR A FREE ONLINE CLASS at a time that’s convenient for you.

I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen without yelling or losing control.

As always, we’re wishing you all the best on your parenting journey, and we are here for you when you need us!

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to my Newsletter:

Sign up for my newsletter for parenting tips to help you create a happier home and become the parent you always wanted to be. Plus, when you subscribe, I'll also send you a copy of our strategy-packed guide 10 Tips for Better Behavior – Starting NOW!

2. Register for my FREE 60-Minute Class:

Register for my free class called How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. Classes run several times per week to accommodate your busy schedule.

3. Enroll in my 7-Step Parenting Success System® Course

Enroll now in my proven 7-step system for busy parents ready for change (it's rated 5 stars on Google). Plus, for a limited time, save $100 on all plans—completely risk-free and with lifetime access.

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions® and the best-selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on The Doctors, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.