Expert gives advice: May I discipline someone else’s child?

29 January 2015

Our Supermoms recently had a wide-ranging debate on the topic of whether one should discipline someone else’s child.

Some of you believe the old principle of “my home, my rules” should be adhered to and say you’ll speak up should any child in your care misbehave. Others believe only the parent has the right to talk to a child about their behaviour and that it’s disrespectful to discipline someone else’s child.

Dr CP de Jager, an educational psychologist of Vanderbijlpark, gives his opinion.

  • May I discipline someone else’s child?

“My view is that adults always have an educational duty when it comes to family or friends’ younger children.”

  • But what does discipline entail?

“It depends on what you mean by discipline. To admonish and give good educational guidance is never wrong.”

  • What about corporal punishment?

“In terms of discipline I believe it’s totally unacceptable for anyone to give someone else’s child corporal punishment. But good educational comments always make a positive contribution. If you view discipline as something that’s educational then I would say yes, you do have an educational duty when it comes to young kids.”

  • What about “my home, my rules”?

“When your kids’ friends visit in your home, your rules count. I raised three children who are adults today. Their friends were always welcome in our home, but they had to obey our rules. The same thing applied when my kids went to visit friends at their homes – they had to obey the rules of those homes.”

  • How do I discipline in a fair way?

“The adominishment must be given with the right attitude. If you do it with a positive attitude and make your educational goals clear, I can’t see anything wrong with doing your educational duty when it comes to other people’s kids.”

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