Yesterday I ran across this post from Parents Magazine. After reading it I got thinking about what I would do in that situation or any situation where my child needed to be disciplined. My initial reaction was probably the same thing this other mom did- defend my child and ask the other parent to come to me first. But then I read some of the responses one of which said -
" I believe we should teach our children to respect all adults. What if she had yelled at your child for running into the road. You taught your child not to listen to other adults."
She brings up a good point. We can't necessarily pick and choose when our children should listen to other adults and when not too. Does it get frustrating when someone else has to discipline your child? Probably, because they're your child and that's "your" job. But there is a level of respect that your child needs to learn to have for other adults.
However respect is a 2 way street and that includes respect to the child, and that child's parent. It would have been nice for the "offending" parent to come and speak to the child in a more calm tone. Sometimes it's not what you say but how you say it.
If someone were to walk up to Ethan and correct a behavior like hitting by saying "Don't you dare hit my child, blah blah blah" and was doing it in a defensive manner or a harsh tone verses someone who says " Ethan we can't hit because it could hurt little susie/johnny/whoever, lets try to keep our hands to ourselves". That is the difference. Not that a parent corrected your child but the tone of which the child was corrected. You can get a lot done if sometimes you just use a different tone.
And lets think if you were the parent of the child who had been hit/hat pushed off/whatever behavior wouldn't you want to stick up for your child just as much as the parent of the one who had done the hitting/pushing/etc? Now hopefully you wouldn't be harsh to child or his parent and all would be well.
What about further discipline or "punishment" time outs, toys taken away, spanking etc. That's an even more touchy subject. I tend to think that those forms of discipline such as time out or restrictions ( toys taken away etc) are for the parent and only the parent with a few exceptions such as a babysitter or a close relative that you are entrusting your child's care to. But it should be up to the parent what typess of discipline are ok to be performed by someone other then themselves. I have given Ethan a pop on the booty twice in his life and I know its not something for us, so if anyone else were to do that heads would roll. If your child is with another person then they should have some way of acceptable behavior modification that you approve of.
So next time your out and might feel the need to discipline a child that is not your own think about what you would do if the situation was reversed and try to keep your calm. We can't expect children to respect us if we don't teach them how to respect.