On disciplining others

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A picture of Charley totally unrelated to this post.
I just like it.

Recently I was in a store in the middle of the toy aisle. While looking around and as my kids asked for every thing they saw, I kept hearing a little girl say to whom I presumed was her brother, to "stop it." As she repeated this her voice was accentuated with a whine.

Her verbal pleas became heightened and she was crying, asking him to stop.

I looked over and saw that he was punching her. Not just a soft push like siblings can do, but a real closed-fist punch.

I have no patience for this kind of thing.

I could see the kids down the aisle but didn't see any parents. They continued to fight, or I should say, he continued to punch.

So, I sauntered a bit closer and gave the much older and bigger brother a stare and raised my eyebrows at him. He looked at me and scooted away from his little sister.

I went back to shopping and the cries started up again. I looked over and he was back at it. I could see in my peripheral vision that he was looking around to see if anyone saw. There were still no parents around so I went back to the kid and said,

"Do you hear her telling you to stop?!"


"Then please STOP." I said.

The little girl cried, "Yeah, stop it. It hurts."

He just shrugged his shoulders and slumped back down and played with toys that weren't packaged.

I went back to shopping but I would occasionally look up to see if they were still there. I caught him a few times as he was trying to slap her. He stopped mid-way when he caught my eye and reluctantly brought his arm down. The girl kept flinching every time he moved.

A little while later as I was in the check-out line, they ended up behind me. The girl was trying to tell her mother what he was doing. She wasn't paying attention and blew her off when she said, "Well, quit bugging him" like it was her fault.

Unfortunately that may be the reality of that home.

In my mom's generation and heritage, it was OK to discipline other's children. Maybe not every one's but certainly in the neighborhood. I remember my grandma yelling some thing at kids on her street and they ran away. Then I saw the mother of the kids bring them back to my grandma and say, "Apologize to Mrs. Hernandez for having to yell at you! You better behave from now on!"

Before every school year or the start of a new class at church, we tell the teachers that we won't be offended if they have to discipline our kids. Or they are always free to come and get us if they are disruptive and we'll handle it. We will never be offended.
I know, love and trust every one that teaches our kids so I know they'll be fair. We don't catch all of the things they do but if and when we do, we are quick to act. We have one that can quickly get out of control so we have to always be on our toes. It's just the nature of bi-polar disorder and it is so hard.

I know it's a touchy subject but my questions are...

How do you feel about disciplining other people's children?

Do you feel more or less comfortable if they are your friends?

Do you do it at all? Do you mind if it's done to yours with fairness?


linking to Take it from me


  1. I have zero problems telling a child to knock it off or to behave, my own or others. I would hope that my friends would do the same if they saw Finn misbehaving. Do I want someone spanking my child, no. Can they sit him down and tell him to behave, absolutely.

  2. I've raised my children much like you do yours. We always tell the teachers to let us know if they are having any problems. Also the kids know that if there's trouble it won't be a lot of fun for them.

    I think there needs to be a lot of discapline when the kids are small. Then they understand what's expected and they'll be trusting and happy teenagers.
    It's hard to raise kids that's for sure. You have to stay on top of everything, but it's so worth it.....

  3. I actually LIKE it when my friends discipline my children. I can't always see everything, so if my kids are doing something wrong and a friend of mine tells them to stop, I am appreciative for their help.

    I would tell my friend's children to stop doing something dangerous or hurtful to another kid, but in a VERY unthreatenng voice and tone.

    If a total stranger disciplined my kid I would not be so happy...but I also wouldn't let my children roam store aisles alone.

  4. I feel funny disciplining other peoples children - even my boyfriends daughter. But at the same time, I was raised in a town where it was sort of like the whole town was your mother. Everyone looked out for and disciplined everyone else's children. I hate when I see kids in stores misbehaving and the parents are no where in sight! I wasn't allowed to leave my moms side in a store!

    New follower

    Diane @ Me, Him and the Cats

  5. New follower

    Diane @ Me, Him and the Cats

  6. Hello! I am a new follower from Welcome Wednesday, so glad to have found your blog. Hope you have a wonderful day!


  7. Hi I just came to you from Welcome Wednesday. I think its really sad that you had to see something like that. My belief is that alot of parents arent really parents, they are glorified babysitters. I am bipolar, and my youngest daughter is autistic, and she gets rudely stared at almost every single day and their parents dont say a word. I was never raised to be ignorant or disrespectful. However that is sadly, rampant today.

  8. I am a new follower from welcome wednesday!
    you are always welcome to stop by!

  9. I can't stand seeing children running amok. It's happening more and more. Parents are not taking responsibility for the children they produce... perhaps because a lot of them are children themselves to begin with.

    No, I do not have a problem with people disciplining my children with fairness. In fact, if that does happen, my children know they are in trouble a second time for being out of line to begin with. I know some of my friends think the way I do, however, others do not. Some are "off limits" so to speak.

    If I see someone doing something that fits into one of three categories... either immoral, illegal, or unsafe.... I don't care who it is, I'll get involved. It's may be an uncomfortable place to be, but I think if it's important enough, we must step us at times.

    Just my thoughts.

  10. I can't believe those kids went so long without parental supervision. But then after your description of their mom in line, I guess I am not surprised.

    I have never disciplined other peoples children w/o them first being in my care. But when mom and dad are no where to be found it is certainly time to step in.

  11. I was read reading a quote in my latest Good Housekeeping yesterday from many decades ago about how you shouldn't ever discipline other people's kids. They went on to say this advice was still good today. I disagree. I think we need to stand up to kids now more than ever because so many people are so lax with their kids.
    It breaks my heart to think about what that little girl must live with every day. Thank you for coming to her defense for at least a few minutes.

  12. My first question was how old are these kids? Second I think what you did was okay. Third I had to do the same thing at the pool the other day as I watched some kid bullying another totally unrelated child. When it turned physical I had to step in. And now to answer your questions:

    I am hesitant to discipline other children, but once I get approval from the parents feel fine doing it allbeit, more conservatively than I would my own.

    It doesn't matter one way or the other if we are friends/acquantinces/strangers and I am discipling as long as the friend is not right there. Because sadly sometimes a friend is and they seem to not have a problem with the exhibited behavior. And that is just uncomfortable then.

    And last I love when others discipline my kids in a reasonable way. I love that it shows my kids that other adults are emotionally invested in their wellbeing, that I am not the only one who disciplines, that people are always watching and so that actions are important, and most of all that sometimes what is okay with me is not okay with others and that being sensitive to those differences is a huge part of life.

    And that is a whole lot, but I feel strongly on the subject.

  13. Mary basically said all I wanted to say :) Ditto Mary.

    But I wanted to let you know that I was reading - and agreeing, too.


  14. I finally made it from Welcome Wednesday and am glad that I did.

    I come from "that" generation when disciplining the children of our friends and neighbors was standard operating procedure. It takes a community to raise a child was the adage back then. Wish it was still so. But first we would have to trust the grownups to get it right. In my opinion, there are lots of old fashioned values that need restoration.

    Drop in to my blog when you can. Follow if it intrigues, uplifts or otherwise pleases you. I write about wives encouraging, appreciating and respecting their husbands. I know - it's an old fashioned idea but it could use a modern restoration.

  15. Interesting discussion. I probably would have said something to the mom. Can we say clueless? As you know, it is all the way you say it so if you could do it in some funny way and get the point across, it might be effective. "Man, he sure likes to use her as a punching bag." But then again, we don't know where they are coming from in their lives. I feel sorry for that girl.

    I appreciate when other family members or friends discipline my children but if that is all the interaction they have with my children, I don't think I appreciate it that much. If there was a good balance of love too I don't mind. For instance, if my friend talked to my kids and my kids knew they loved them and then would tell them to stop acting like a numbskull from time to time, it would be great. But if my friend only interacted with my children when they were acting up, I wouldn't appreciate it as they would be only looking for the bad rather than a balance of the good and bad. Does that make sense?

    As for a store situation, I wouldn't have my children hanging out in the store by themselves so if someone had to discipline them due to my negligence, I would be more mad at myself.

    Also, there are a lot of crusty people out there who just get mad about everything -- don't like those kind at all.

    I've gone on too long. Wish we lived closer so we could go out to lunch and chat about this and other topics.


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