We are experts in disciplining our own kids. Alright, even if we are not, it is much easier to deal with our child when she is acting up in public. However, how do you remind someone else’s child of basic etiquettes? How do you deal with a child being disrespectful to you? What do you do when the parents of the kid are not doing anything about the misbehavior?
Since this is a very tricky situation, and you do not really want to come across as Cruella Devil, here are some tips to handle the situation when someone else’s kid is being rude to you or your child:
- Check your emotions: Knee jerk reactions do not help in any situation. If another kid is being very rude, it is easy to snap back. But do not. There are always polite ways to deal with even the rudest of the behavior. Also, you do not want to overstep boundaries with the parents of other kids – which might make them defensive as they may feel that you are questioning their parenting style. So instead of giving it right away, step back, check your emotions and just be patient – playing the wait and watch game
- Count to five. Slowly: What we mean is that we want you to take a moment to assess the situation before jumping into reaction and look childish. Take a step back. If the kid was rude to yours then see how your child is reacting. Is he hurt? Is he saying something back? Is he completely alright? Does it really require your intervention? Because many at times, kids are better left alone to deal with misbehavior during play time. If you step in before you are needed, your child will get the message that he needs someone else to sort out his problems. And yes, if your child responds the way he should, the way you deem appropriate, make sure
- React when you have to: When someone says something hurtful to you, whether it is a kid or an adult, you need to make that person aware you are hurt. If it is a child, he probably did not know that what he said is hurting and yelling, hitting or screaming insults at him will do more harm than good. So the best way to deal with a rude comment is that “you know when you say my sandwiches are yucky, I feel sad”. Ideally, you should pull aside the child before correcting him so that he does not feel humiliated in public
- Keep out of it if you or your child are not involved: Okay, you need to know that you are not in charge of the world. If you or your child are not on the receiving end of the rude behavior, it is best to keep out of it. However, it is also important to tell your child that what the other kid did is not an acceptable behavior. So use the event as a teaching opportunity, but do not jump into it in an attempt to ‘make the world a better place’. Leave with your child than trying to punish or discipline someone else’s
- Step in if someone is getting badly impacted: Of course, you are not mother India. But if you see that the rude comment has had a cascading effect on everyone and the situation is spiraling out of control, then by all means, please step in. Do not isolate the child who started the fight though. Just break the fight and say generally tell everyone to behave and not be rude. If the child’s parents are not around and the situation demands an intervention, try involving other authorities who are in-charge at the event. Also, you can use this opportunity to show your kid what is inappropriate behavior. And if you are explaining him, make sure it is out of earshot of the other family involved
- Involve the other kids’ parent: It is always wise to let the concerned parent discipline the kid. If the parent was not nearby to hear the rude comment that the kid uttered, you need to let her know. However, do not be accusatory when you talk. Say “your kid just called mine an ugly joker. I thought you would want to know” instead of “Your kid should not have called mine ugly joker…where is he learning such bad words from?” In most cases, the parent would talk to the child. But sometimes, the parent might get defensive too. Please do not get perturbed by it. The parent probably knows you are right, she just does not want to admit it. So just say “I just wanted you to know it” and walk away, removing your child from the scene as you go
- Be polite: Whether you are talking to the kid or his parents, be polite. Even if a child is using swear words, shouting back at the child is not going to not help – instead the child may think that this is acceptable behavior. Use words like ‘please’ to point out politely that what the kid said was inappropriate and should not be repeated.Be sure not to humiliate anyone, the child or his parents, and keep your words, tone of voice and attitude in check
- Focus on the bad behavior: Do not say “you are a bad boy” as a response to rude words. Mention clearly what behavior of the child is bothering you. “Please do not tear that story book.” And also try to distract the child from the bad behavior with a “why don’t you play with these cars instead?”. Do not start off complaining about the child altogether, and do point some good things that the other child might have done. Always, always focus on bad behavior, and never insult the child or his parents
In the end, remember not be judgmental about the child or his parents. Just like an adult can have a good day or a bad day, so can a child. Give a child some benefit of doubt, and if caught in a situation like this, handle things in a positive way. Read more on manners and discipline here.