6 Discipline Strategies for Other Kids
Follow these guidelines when you're in charge of someone else's kid.
- Tread lightly. Don't ever spank or yell, even if the child does something dangerous or destructive. Your goal is to correct his behavior, not to punish him.
- Plan ahead. Discuss the rules with the child's parent (for example, how much TV she can watch and what she can eat for a snack) and agree on consequences in advance.
- Explain your expectations. A child isn't likely to obey boundaries unless you set them. Take a few minutes to go over the house rules: "No running or playing ball indoors, everyone must share, and toys go away when you're done playing with them."
- Let the little things go. If a child knocks down a block tower or doesn't say thank you for the homemade cookies and lemonade you made, don't correct him. Remember: Every parent has a different set of expectations about acceptable behavior.
- Don't embarrass her. Never discipline a child in front of her friends. Address her as part of a group: "I can see everyone's tired of playing this game. Let's all take a break and sit down for a snack."
- Accentuate the positive. When you have to remind another child to share, clean up, or stop throwing things, make a point of praising your child (in private) for being good.
What's your take on disciplining other kids?
Originally published in the September 2008 issue of Parents magazine.