There are situations where you may be in charge of someone else’s children for a time. Occasionally, situations arise where a child needs to be disciplined. In the absence of their parent, you are the one to make the decision on how to handle things. How do you discipline another person’s child in a fair manner, and in a way that everyone agrees upon?
Discuss with Parent before Situation Arises
If you will be watching someone else’s child for awhile or babysit regularly, it is best to know in advance what you will do if the need for discipline arises. Talk with the child’s parents beforehand and discuss how they discipline at home, and what measures are appropriate for you as the babysitter.
Perhaps the parent uses time outs and their child responds well to them. Or maybe they don’t believe in time outs and prefer to remove a privilege for a short time. It is important to know that whatever method you use is approved by the parents. This keeps things consistent, and stays on track with their beliefs.
Never Use Physical Discipline
No matter what your beliefs on physical discipline are, it is falling out of acceptance in most communities. It is certainly never acceptable to use it on someone else’s child, even if the child’s parents give you permission. Never, under any circumstances, should you hit a child in your care. There is no excuse. It is harmful to the child. Also, you can get into legal trouble for using physical punishment for a child who is not your own. Find another method, plain and simple.
This is especially important if you have children of your own. Be sure that you are not viewing your own child as the angel, and someone else’s child as the villain. When your child has a friend over to play and it turns into a disaster, listen to both sides of the story. Figure out what really happened and be careful not to immediately blame the other child. Remain impartial and deal with the situation accordingly.
Always try to be understanding, and resist the urge to be the “manners police” to someone else’s child. Don’t discipline for minor infractions and always keep in mind that other children have grown up in other homes. Other children don’t always have the same rules that your children do. What seems like an issue to you may be considered acceptable in another home. As long as no one has been hurt in any way, don’t be too quick to discipline another child.
Discuss the Incident with the Parent as Soon as Possible
If a situation arises where discipline needs to be given, discuss it with the parent as soon as possible. This may be when the parent picks up their child from a birthday party, or calls to check how things are going. It is important to be honest and give all the details of the situation and how you handled it. Without a discussion, it may look like you are trying to hide something.
A child’s parent always needs to know when there have been issues. This gives them the necessary knowledge to talk about it with their child, and lets them know if their child is having issues that need to be addressed.
Disciplining a child other than your own is best to be avoided, and can be awkward. There are times, however, when it is necessary. Use these guidelines to figure out if you are disciplining in a way that is fair and useful.