There’s nothing worse than another kid being mean to your child. Nothing, that is, except another adult being mean to your child. If you’re out in public or at a family gathering when another adult starts to discipline your child you might find it tough to keep your cool. Check out the tips below for how to handle the situation when another adult disciplines your child.
Assess the situation
Before you initiate a conversation with the adult trying to discipline your child, do your best to assess the situation. While there are lots of times it’s not appropriate for another adult to discipline your child there are some situations it’s called for, like if your child or another child was in danger. Check out the situation to see if your child or another needed the other adult to step in for their safety before you start the conversation.
When you step in, do so with the intention to figure out what’s going on and to de-escalate the situation rather than to tell the other parent to mind their own business. You can intervene by saying something like, “tell me what’s happening here?” or “Can you tell me what you’re talking to my child about?”
Calm the situation down
Whatever the reason the other adult intervened, they clearly thought intervention was necessary. If, for example, the other parent intervened after your child grabbed a toy from their child you might say, “It looks like we’re having trouble with the toys right now, how about you come play with me,” to your child. You might also try to solve the problem if it’s clear what was going on, “Let’s decide to take turns, I’ll keep track of how long you each have the toy.”
If you don’t know the other parent involved it might be simplest to say something like, “I’ll take over disciplining my child now, please don’t intervene again.” If you know the person that it might be best to give yourself a few minutes to breathe and calm down before following up and then try something like, “In the future, I’d appreciate if you got my attention if you felt someone needed to say something to my child. I know you meant well but I prefer to discipline my child myself.”
Seeing your child disciplined by another adult can cause some big feelings. When you take a few seconds to breathe before you respond you’re more likely to get the outcome you want – a safe and happy child, a good relationship with the other adult, and a calm situation.