What Can You Do or Say When Your Family or Relatives Discipline Your Children?
When a parent becomes a grandparent or a sister/brother becomes an aunt or uncle, a whole new world opens up to them. There is now a second generation to look after and care for. If the family is close, it may be second nature to want to step up and help a parent with his or her children.
Often times, a relative may overstep his/her boundaries when it comes to disciplining your child. He/she may think they are in the right when in reality they may be doing more harm than good. Here are some tips of how to handle relatives if they discipline your child:
Children and Discipline
Disciplining Your Children
Parenting and Discipline: Tips for Talking to Your Relatives about Disciplining Your Child
1. Explain to your relative what you expect from your child in your home. Perhaps the relative doesn’t know that your child is permitted to make a fort with the couch cushions in your home or that he/she is permitted to run around in the living room. Make sure to let your relatives know what is acceptable and unacceptable in your home. That way, if they see something that would be unacceptable in their standards, they’d be more likely to let it go since you said it was okay.
Parents and Discipline : Talking in Front of Children
It would be wise to do some of these things while the child is not present. If a child hears you speaking with or even reprimanding another adult, he/she may lose respect for that adult and may act out even more in the adult's presence, thinking that you will always come to stop that adult from even giving a time out if the child misbehaves.
I know this happens; it unfortunately happened to me as a teacher. A parent would come in yelling and screaming because I simply told their child that they could not talk in class, even though it was a school policy. After that, the child would act out even more, thinking that he/she could get away with anything, which wasn't true.
Here's the thing: there will be times when another adult has to discipline your child. Your child needs to still have respect for other adults who may need to step in when you are not around. The matter here is to make sure that the other adult remains in his/her boundaries when you are present and that they use the proper measures to deal with misbehavior when you are not present.
2. Establish boundaries. If a relative begins to discipline your child in your presence, immediately and calmly let them know that you can handle the situation. Take care of the discipline, and when the child isn’t present, explain to the relative that you appreciate his/her help but when the parent is present, the parent will be the one to take care of the situation.
3. Don’t make excuses for your child. If your child misbehaves in front of company, be consistent and give the discipline at that moment. It’s tempting to say things like “Kids will be kids” or “He’s just really excited that you’re here.” Don’t wait until things get out of hand and your company is disturbed before you step in.
If your child misbehaves when with a relative and the relative notifies you of such misbehavior, be sure to address it again with your child. Your child needs to know that even when you are not present, rules still need to be followed.
Out and About Sticker Chart
When my son would go to my mom's house while I was at work, I gave her a sticker bookmark chart to use for his positive incentives. It was basically a travel sticker chart that fit in the diaper bag. If he filled up the bookmark, he earned a special treat like extra playtime when he got home.
4. Explain your discipline tactics with the relative. When doing this, it is important for you to point out to the relative that you would like them to follow your measures so that the discipline is consistent for the child. Let the relative know what you do: timeouts, loss of privileges, counting down from three, etc. Explain that these measures will be given by the parent if the parent is present, but if the parent is not present, the measures need to be implemented immediately so that the lesson is learned.
Also be sure to explain some positive measures the relative could use with your child. If you utilize a sticker chart to reinforce good behavior, explain the process to the relative. If you provide other incentives like an extra book at bedtime or an extra hour to play outside, explain that as well.
5. Be firm about what you find unacceptable as discipline. If you find that your relative has taken to shaking or hitting your child and you do not approve, make sure to let them know about it. Give them the reasons why you find these types of discipline unacceptable. Explain that while you know they love your child and want to help, each time they use physical discipline with your child they run the risk of injuring the child. It might also be necessary to explain that such discipline measures used in public might get reported to authorities.
6. Be clear that if the relative does not respect your wishes in terms of discipline, your child will not be permitted to be alone with the relative. While I know this may be hard to do, as in situations when the parents rely on relatives for child care, it needs to be done for the safety and well-being of your child, especially if the relative’s discipline involves shaking or hitting. You may have to find alternate means of care giving until the matter is resolved.
Disciplining Your Child: What He/She Should Know When with a Relative or Family Member
Your child should be made aware of how to exhibit good behavior when alone with another relative or family member. If Grandma doesn't permit running in her house, remind your child before he/she goes to Grandma's house. If your child will be going to a store or restaurant with another relative, remind him/her of the rules to follow: stay near the relative (i.e. no running around disturbing other customers), listen the first time to the relative, use polite manners (please and thank you) and other such rules.
Remind your child that of he/she does not follow the rules when with the other relative, privileges will be lost or other sorts of discipline will be happening at home as well. Your child needs to know that he/she is still expected to have good behavior, even if you are not around.
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Disciplining Your Children
Establishing boundaries with any relatives or family members who are in direct contact with your child helps them to understand their role in your child's life. They can love and spend time with your child all they like, but it's important that they respect you as a parent and your wishes when it comes to discipline.