Correcting Other People's Children

Happy Friday to all of you!  Today, I am going to jump into a question I’ve been pondering a while.  I was asked some time ago about when it was appropriate to correct other people’s children.  This is a bit complicated but I read a blog recently with a story I’ll share.  I have some general rules but I’m not exactly opposed to breaking them as you’ll soon read.  My hope is to give you my perspective but let you decide for yourself if it’s ever appropriate.

Let me start with the easy part.  When I was at St. Josephs Children’s Home, our kids were divided into departments.  The thing was, though, none of us were territorial with the children.  We had a common purpose which was to prepare kids for adoption or foster home settings.  Therefore, kids from another department acted up, I had no problems correcting them and never received grief for doing so.  In turn, I never gave a house parent a hard time when they corrected my kids.

Therefore, the first lesson to be learned is to have a clear understanding with the parents before correcting their children.  You may be surprised to learn that few parents whom I’ve actually talked to have objected to me correcting their kids.  To be honest, I can’t think of one although there may be a situation that has slipped my mind.  This isn’t a taboo topic.  Most reasonable parents understand that as long as you have the child’s best interests, odds are that correcting their children is probably all right.  Don’t get me wrong.  Problems can still occur.  In most cases though, it should be fine.

The second part of this is a bit trickier.  What if I don’t know the parents?  In this case, I am very hesitant before correcting any child unless they that child is causing imminent danger to themselves or someone else.  Though I’ve helped a lot of kids, I can’t raise everyone’s children.  So if, for example, I see your child throwing tomatoes down aisle 6 at the grocery store, I’m likely to keep pushing my cart until I reach the next aisle.  Some parents have no control of their kids while others are confrontational.  In the end, it just cannot be worth it to me.

This leads me to the story I teased at the beginning of the blog.  A mom was fixing lunch for her child and his friend (Johnny) at their house.  Johnny asked if he could have Pepsi and mom said, “No.”  (Her own child was drinking water)  After receiving the answer, Johnny replied, “F*ck You!”  Mom was pretty shocked (understandably so) and asked Johnny if he talked like that at home.  Johnny replied, “F*ck yeah.”

The current Pepsi logo (2008-) with the

How many expletives is a Pepsi worth?

Keep in mind I don’t know how old Johnny was.  In saying that, if your kid is in my home, I expect a general sense of politeness.  If I don’t get it, your child will not be in my home for long— one way or the other.  This is a case where I would correct the child and put them on a short leash. (figuratively speaking, of course!)

I’m fully aware there are many scenario’s left unanswered in this blog.  Yet again I have chosen a topic that could be a chapter in my next book.  Regardless, I’m interested in hearing your opinions and if/where I am off base.

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Thanks for reading this and passing it along to other parents.  It is really appreciated.  I started this blog April 7th and write twice a week.  Would you believe before this was posted, the blog has garnered over 1,000 hits?  You guys are incredible!!!

Thanks as well for all of the interest in my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed about some speaking engagements in the fall.  Click on the book cover located at the right hand side of the blog for more info.  The entire preface has also been copy/pasted at the top of my page.  The book will make you laugh, cry, and think about your parenting.  One of my readers said she’ll need to read it twice.  The first time would be for entertainment and the second time, she would need to take notes.  Feel free to check it out.

Have a terrific weekend and I’ll have another blog ready on Tuesday.

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12 comments

  1. Great topic, and I think you handled it very well. If I'm out at a public place, say at the park (cause my boys and I are there a lot) and a child needs to be corrected (usually because they are bullying) I'll wait and see if a parent is going to step in. If no parent steps in I have no problem with talking to the child (especially if the situation in some way involves my own child) about why what they were doing is not appropriate and what they can do next time.

  2. Monique says:

    Your blog is amazing!!

    Monique xx

    misszuman.blogspot.com

  3. Shannon says:

    I know what you don't do! I was involved with a dad on the playground that physically touched my child! My son and his daughter were playing, my son got a little rough. Before I could get to my son this guy was up in my then 3 year olds face yelling at him and poking him in the chest hard enough to move my son backwards. I was dumbstruck! I would not have had a problem with him talking to my son about taking it easy, not so rough, etc. As my very scared son cried the entire way home I could not help feeling sorry for the man's daughter.

  4. Just so people know, I read every comment. With Shannon's comment, I have responded privately because it was important and a bit beyond the general message of this blog.

  5. Michelle says:

    I agree with Amy above. If no-one else steps in, I might say something. I would definitely say something if they were doing something to my children. I have no problem correcting the children of my friends. And truthfully, I would expect the same of my friends. If my friends see my kids doing something that is mean or inappropriate and I wasn't there, I would hope that they would say something. Maybe the key there is "if I wasn't there". Some friends might have corrected my kids in front of me before, but truthfully I don't remember anything specific. It takes a village!!

  6. Carrie says:

    Personally, I don't have a bit of trouble addressing the bad behavior of other peoples' children. However, I do it in a quiet and calm way, at their level (age & eye). I've never had a parent rebuke me for doing so. Most of the time it has been to the child of a parent who looks so bedraggled and exhausted they seemed at their wits end, lol.
    I do not mind others correcting my children either as long as it is done in a loving and respectful way. I have had instances with some parents who are off the hook and have threatened my children, cursed them and basically behaved worse than any child I've ever met! Now THOSE people I have issues with.
    Great blog! Am now following you back via the Hop!

  7. Judy says:

    I teach the 8 year olds at church and have no problem correcting behavior there…most of the parents seem to have no problem with this. In other situations, I try to leave it up to the parent to correct if they are around. If another kid takes something from my boys, I try to let them resolve it first, but if there is any hitting/hurting of any sort I step in.

    Great blog! I am now following and looking forward to reading more!

  8. Nikki says:

    I think in the case of the cursing Pepsi child, it is fine for the mom to correct that child, as he is a guest in her house and she is responsible for him during that time. I have several friends who I don't have an issue with when they correct my son. I think I would be less comfortable with strangers doing it, but then it depends on my my son is doing. If he was doing something really horrific, then of course even a stranger has the right to tell him to stop. Luckily, he's a pretty well-behaved kid most of the time!

  9. OMG! I had a mouth full of water right when I got to the "f*ck you" part! Lol. I almost spit my drink all over my laptop. Yeah, I think in the case where someone else's child is in your home, you have every right to address it.
    Anyway, thanks for joining The Blog Entourage. Would love to have a guest post sometime, or you can submit for Feature Friday…or both!

  10. Oh, my! That boy with the potty mouth would've been in BIG trouble talking to me like that! I have the curse of a teacher, I correct and educate every child I meet when the opportunity arises. I often get a smile or a "thanks" from the parents as I try to tell them the situation. I'd want to know, so I assume they do, too. If I get a weird look (which has happened before), I just smile and say, "Sorry! I'm around kids all day!" and move on. I agree, it IS a hard situation, but if their parents aren't going to teach them, then someone has to! Plus, if you disagree with me using some love and logic on your child, then I don't really care about your opinion.. you know? Great topic and great blog!!! I'm following for sure! =) Come say hi @ ModernMomRedefined.blogspot.com

  11. Kel says:

    Great parenting topic. While I don't typically correct other people's children, if they are in my house without parents, I will. They are in my care and therefore my responsibility. Thanks for visiting our blog hop. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  12. Yet says:

    I am a single mom of 3 growing boys. To be a mother and a father at the same time is not a joke. It is very hard to balance everything especially that they all have different personalities but I am coping well so far. I think I'll be here on a regular basis. You may have something that would help me with my kids.

    Disciplining are for the parents but in their absence; it would be fine to correct such actions. Entrusting your child to someone even for just a few minutes would mean entrusting the best interests of your child as well.