Should you dis­ci­pline some­one else’s kid at a play date that you’re host­ing? DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON shares his thoughts.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Learn what you should do when some­one else’s kid mis­be­haves at a play date that you’re host­ing.

Play dates are great for your lit­tle one be­cause they keep him busy and happy. He gets to learn im­por­tant so­cial skills, such as shar­ing and turn-tak­ing, as well.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, some par­ents drop their kids off at your home and go off to run er­rands – you prob­a­bly do this, too, when your child has a play date hosted by a trusted friend. And that’s all ne… un­til one of the chil­dren mis­be­haves. Then you won­der what to do. Can you dis­ci­pline some­one else’s kid? What would his par­ents want you to do? How would they re­act when they learn you rep­ri­manded him?

Of course, preven­tion is bet­ter than cure. That’s why most par­ents ar­range for their child to have play dates only with peers whose mums and dads share sim­i­lar val­ues.

For ex­am­ple, you are un­likely to in­vite a tod­dler whose mum thinks two-yearolds are too young to know about tak­ing turns and al­lows her kid to snatch toys. Hav­ing sim­i­lar ex­pec­ta­tions re­duces the like­li­hood that you’ll need to dis­ci­pline a naughty child.

Yet things can go wrong– even the most well-be­haved tod­dler can ex­plode with rage if pro­voked. Or he might sim­ply take ad­van­tage of the fact that his par­ents aren’t there to en­force the rules.

That’s why it is best to agree with other par­ents on ba­sic dis­ci­pline rules when set­ting up play dates, to avoid po­ten­tial mis­un­der­stand­ings.

But your mum says…

Bear in mind that the child will re­spond bet­ter to his own par­ents’ au­thor­ity. So you would want to be able to tell him: “Your dad told me

that you’re not al­lowed to hit oth­ers/have more sweets/use rude words and he’ll be very an­noyed with you if I tell them you won’t stop.”

Re­mind­ing him that he re­mains an­swer­able to his par­ents – even though they are not present – is usu­ally very ef­fec­tive.

Chat with the other mums and dads, for in­stance, about what their child is al­lowed to eat, how much screen-time he can have, what toys he is al­lowed to play with, and so on.

That way, you will have some un­der­stand­ing of their ex­pec­ta­tions, and you’ll be able to point th­ese out to the child if nec­es­sary.

In ad­di­tion, nd out how the par­ents usu­ally deal with their kid’s mis­be­haviour. Do they use ver­bal rep­ri­mands? Do they use time-out? What do they do when he throws tantrums?

Chances are, their dis­ci­pline meth­ods will co­in­cide with yours any­way. Find out if they are happy for you to use the same ap­proach with their child if some­thing goes wrong dur­ing the play date.

You should go home now

Should the child mis­be­have and you feel you have to take ac­tion – and if you are con­cerned that his par­ents might be trou­bled by this – rep­ri­mand your kid, as well.

Al­though that might seem un­just (es­pe­cially if your lit­tle one ap­pears to be in­no­cent), giv­ing them both a telling-off at the same time demon­strates to the other par­ents that you have dealt with them fairly and even-hand­edly.

Fi­nally, no mat­ter how much you are pro­voked by the kid’s mis­be­haviour, never use phys­i­cal punishment (even if his par­ents have given you per­mis­sion to do so). That’s not your job.

If things have be­come so chal­leng­ing that you feel tempted to raise your hand at your child’s friend, call his par­ents and tact­fully ask them to come and pick him up now.

No mat­ter how much you are pro­voked by the other child’s mis­be­haviour, never use phys­i­cal punishment. That’s not your job.

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