Dis­ci­pline How do you dis­ci­pline some­one else’s child?

It’s hap­pened to most moth­ers. Your child has a play date and all goes well, un­til his friend does some­thing that your child would never get away with. What now? Do you shout at the other child or do you just let it slide and look the other way? You don’t

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

“I HAD A TER­RI­BLE EX­PE­RI­ENCE,” says Cape Town mother, Louisa Brink. “A mother and her son (our boys are in the same class even though they are not re­ally friends) came over for a visit be­cause I had to help the mother with some­thing. The boys played in my son’s bed­room, but af­ter they left, the room was in a state of com­plete chaos! All the cup­boards and his bed­ding were covered in khoki pen scrib­bles. The bed­ding was ripped off the bed and there were so many toys on the floor one could hardly walk on it.

“I con­fronted my own child im­me­di­ately, but he put the blame on the other boy. Luck­ily our nanny was there to back up his story. I de­cided then and there it’s the last time that this boy would visit our home. With my child’s birth­day party he was not in­vited and I avoid the mother at school. Yet I feel sorry for the boy be­cause he is be­ing pun­ished for some­thing he might not even know he’s do­ing wrong.”

A mother should lay down the rules in her home from the on­set, says Cape Town clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Maryna John­son. “When a child does some­thing wrong in your home you should first ask him nicely to re­frain from the be­hav­iour. Ex­plain the rules of the house and tell him that ev­ery­one abides by those rules.

“When the child per­sists with the bad be­hav­iour, take him home. You must then ex­plain to his mother what hap­pened and that you could not handle her child. Let her know that the child will al­ways be wel­come in your home, pro­vided he sticks to the rules.”

LET HER KNOW THAT THE CHILD WILL AL­WAYS BE WEL­COME IN YOUR HOME, PRO­VIDED HE STICKS TO THE RULES

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE CHILD’S BE­HAV­IOUR HAS AN IN­FLU­ENCE ON YOUR FRIEND­SHIP WITH HIS MOTHER?

“This can hap­pen, but you can­not al­low a child in your home who does not fol­low the rules. Weigh up what is im­por­tant to you and your fam­ily. If the child starts dam­ag­ing prop­erty or hurt­ing your child it might be time to end the friend­ship.”

Maryna says stick­ing to one rule is cru­cial – never hit some­one else’s child. “This is a ma­jor no-no. One way of han­dling the sit­u­a­tion is to give the child a time-out. Take him to a space where he can calm down un­til he is ready to play nicely. It’s best to speak to the other par­ent and come to an agree­ment about the best form of dis­ci­pline.”

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WHOLE BUNCH, IN­CLUD­ING YOUR OWN CHILD, MISBEHAVES?

“In this case you can­not dis­ci­pline your child alone. The other child should know that they too did some­thing wrong. Moth­ers should also re­alise that a dif­fer­ent set of rules ap­plies to ev­ery home. You might not al­low jump­ing on the couches, but it could be ac­cept­able else­where. Be firm about what be­hav­iour is tol­er­ated in your home.”

When a cer­tain child is out of line dur­ing group play, Maryna’s ad­vice is to take the cul­prit aside and rep­ri­mand him. “The oth­ers will want to know what hap­pened, but ex­plain that it is be­tween you and the other child.”

One im­por­tant as­pect to re­mem­ber when you dis­ci­pline chil­dren, in­clud­ing your own, is to al­ways do it from a place of love. “When another child comes to your home to play, he is in your care,” she says. “You are re­spon­si­ble for him and he re­lies on your care just as much as your own chil­dren do.”

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN A CHILD DOES SOME­THING THAT DRIVES YOU UP THE WALL WHILE HIS MOTHER IS PRESENT?

“The re­spon­si­bil­ity al­ways rests with the mother to dis­ci­pline her own child,” says Maryna. “You can­not take over another per­son’s re­spon­si­bil­ity. If her child is jump­ing on your couches, for ex­am­ple, you can nicely ask if she would mind if you ask him to stop.”

Chil­dren who con­stantly in­ter­rupt adult con­ver­sa­tion can be another ir­ri­ta­tion. If the mother does not in­ter­vene you can in­form her that it both­ers you and ask her if there’s a way she can put a stop to it.

Mother of two Liezel Mathee of Melk­bosstrand says for her it’s very sim­ple. “I have rules in my house and ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing my own chil­dren, have to abide by the rules. This in­cludes chil­dren who come over to my home to play. I be­lieve chil­dren ap­pre­ci­ate hav­ing guide­lines and struc­ture. They need to know that they can­not get away with mis­be­hav­ing at your home. This has al­ways worked for me.” YB

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