It Takes A Village To Discipline A Child
I used to feel uncomfortable scolding other people’s children. That all changed once I started regularly hitting local mall play areas. Most of them are set up like fancy Ultimate Fighting Championship rings for toddlers, and for good reason. Most of the time there is at least one token toddler-bully, muscling his or her way around while the parent is either tapping away at Farmville, on the phone, or inexplicably missing in action.
I’ll patiently watch and wait for an offending child to clothesline one of mine onto the semi-padded cushy carpeting. If there is no action from another parent, next comes the said scolding. The word itself is pretty harsh, but I’m usually pretty polite. I’ll use words like “please” and “thank you” when informing the offender that plowing into my kid intentionally will not be tolerated.
That is typically all it takes to get them to stop, and they usually respond with a fun combination of fear and shame. This is good, because there are boundaries when it comes to disciplining other people’s kids. Telling them nicely to stop? Sure, why not. Putting them in a timeout? Hmm, maybe not a good idea. Giving them a spanking? Absolutely not.
I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if I witnessed an adult spanking one of my children, or if one of my kids informed me that they were hit by a “grown-up.” I would be livid. Especially because it’s something I’ve never done to my kids and never will.
Things change a little bit when the environment is a home setting with a babysitter or family member watching the kids. More leeway can definitely be given in the discipline department, with boundaries still intact. I’ve watched other people’s children now more than a handful of times, and have had more than a few instances of kids not listening or acting out of control. The discipline is simple for others’ children, and that is to employ the same methods that I would use on my own kids, and nothing more harsh than a simple time-out. I’ll leave any punishment that is more stern up to the parents themselves.
This all can be semi-contradictory to the idea that we can simply let other people raise our kids the way they see fit. There still have to be boundaries, but what the boundaries are exactly is a bit nebulous. Would it be okay with you if your child told you that grandpa spanked him? If the babysitter said she had to yell at your kids, how would that make you feel? These are things we need to talk about, so we can all be on the same page. What do you consider to be “crossing the line” when it comes to other people watching your children?