When it comes to handling our kids and their rude behavior, most of us have don’t have a problem handing out discipline and can quickly remind our little ones about manners and kindness. But what about when it’s someone else’s kid who is being badly behaved? Interacting with other people’s impolite or mean-spirited children is a whole different ballgame and can often make you feel uncomfortable and afraid to over step boundaries with their parents. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to handle things positively when situations arise.
Don’t take it personal. Kids act out from time to time—we all know that. When another child is being mean to yours, remember that kids are kids and they can have good days and bad days, just like adults can.
Talk to kids like adults. Children love to be treated like “big kids,” as it gives them a sense of pride and respect. Speak to them as if they’re on your level and just another adult. You don’t need to dumb down your vocabulary to have a conversation with a child. Kids are smart, and they’ll be sure to tell you if they don’t understand something, which you can then explain. Also, try to talk to children at eye-level. Adults can seem like giants to little kids, and can be a little intimidating. Get on their level when having a conversation, discussing rules, or consequences.
Should I or shouldn’t I? We hate to say it, but not all kids are perfect little angels. Whether it stems from this, that, or the other, some kids can be really mean. The fact is: They’re not your kids, and there is only so much you can do to intervene. If the unruly kid is on your turf, your rules apply. Set clear boundaries and let all the children (including yours) know that there are big consequences for teasing, bullying, or abuse of any kind. If the child is somewhere else (the park, at school, an event), do not reprimand the child yourself. Instead, talk to their parent to intervene. It’s hard to bite your tongue, but as a rule, you should try not to step in with a child that isn’t yours, unless you have been given permission or your child is in danger. The problem is, some parents just don’t know how to discipline, and in that case, it might be best to find a new playmate for your little one to hang out with. If no parent is around, you can clearly make your presence known, which sometimes is enough to make kids behave. It’s okay to cross your arms and say, “We don’t play like that because someone could get hurt” to let the child know that you are watching.
When you’re in charge. When you’re watching or in charge of other people’s kids, you are the boss. Beforehand, you should discuss interests, routine, and discipline with the child’s parent to find out what they’re comfortable with. When the child arrives, lay down the law. Let the children know that you mean business and there will be consequences for bad behavior.
Reward the positive. Be generous with rewarding good behavior. Encouragement and praise go a long way with children. It’s very possible that a few compliments on positivity, kindness, manners, and other good actions will result in more of the same.