Would You Discipline Other People’s Kids? Should You?

Disciplining other people's kids
Is it okay to discipline other people’s kids?

It’s another beautiful day at the playground, but one kid is being really rude to your child. Would you step in and have a word with that kid?

Okay, so you don’t want to be the meanie mom on the playground who’s yelling at everybody else’s kids while perceiving your own child as a little angel, but do you think it’s okay to discipline other people’s children?

A lively discussion on the Today show about whether or not it’s okay to discipline other people’s kids resulted in some very different viewpoints on the matter.

I have certainly witnessed kids behaving badly around my kids at the playground, but in most cases, have not intervened. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to parent another child at a playground if they have a guardian there.

However, if things get to a level where I need to have a word with another child – because their parent isn’t present and they are bullying other children or have the potential to harm themselves or other kids – yes, I would definitely step in.

At my own home, when the kids have playdates or friends sleepover, I feel I’m well within my right to speak with my kids’ friends if they aren’t acting appropriately or are doing something dangerous. Their parents aren’t there to intervene, so it’s acceptable to speak with him or her and get the child back on track. I would expect my kids’ friends’ parents to do the same when my children are in their homes.

During the Today show segment, More Magazine features editor Susan Swimmer said she believed that “when it comes to kids under the age of 10 who are not your kids, it’s not your job, nor your business, to correct their behavior.”

Therapist and author Ian Kerner, on the other hand, believes it’s perfectly acceptable to discipline someone else’s child.

Swimmer believes it’s okay to remove your child from the situation, rather than take action against the offending kid: “If you don’t like how a kid is behaving, take YOUR kid out of the situation.”

Kerner agrees that in some scenarios, that may be necessary, sharing, “I’ve learned that while I can be firm with another parent’s child, I can’t change their parenting style. It can be frustrating, but it’s better for you to put yourself and your child in safe situations rather than toxic ones.”

When my son was younger, he was reprimanded by a man who was very upset that my son’s car door had bumped into his car in the parking lot at camp pickup. He flew off the handle and screamed at my kid… my son still recalls how that guy made him feel. It was an accident and I understand the man was upset, but he could have addressed the issue with me, rather than yelling at my son. I don’t enjoy confrontation, but you better believe my mother bear instinct kicked in and I gave it back to that guy.

Where do you stand on the issue? Is it okay to discipline other people’s kids?


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