How do you discipline a boyfriends child without being out of line?
I have never been in this position and don't know the extent of yours, but off-hand, I would say that you don't. Unless you are in charge of this child's care apart from your boyfriend (as a babysitter would be) it is his responsibility to enforce the rules and boundaries he has established for his child. If you are frequently in charge for periods of time, then you might need to discuss this with your boyfriend to confirm what he would find acceptable. Then maybe have a sit-down with him and his child so he can explain his expectations to his child in your presence.
...just my thinking, anyway.
In a situation like that, where you have 'limited' authority over how a child acts, it makes things difficult to say the least. I'd say that the only thing that you can do to affect behavior that would raise no one's undue attention would be to reward positive behaviors. Clearly the child is looking for any kind of attention that it can get, and negative attention has been the easiest in the past.
Find opportunities to offer sincere praise, even if it's only for small things at first. It may even be a while before the young one responds. As with any of us though, we all crave positive attention and when we find someone who freely points out our positive attributes and pays attention to us when we do well, we will seek them out again and again. Children are no different.
Don't praise the good in the midst of the bad behavior either. Catch them doing good and praise them in the moment. It may be difficult for you to find those moments at first, in fact to make it easier you may even consider making a game of it and have fun working at it. It might be a little bit awkward at first but I promise you, those small little investments of attention and kindness will pay dividends in the long run.
Use your words. This can offer discliopline better than a smack and has long lasting effects.
Be careful to make sure your hubby approves though
Back up what he says. That may seem really simple, but it's one thing that's always an easy call and, in most cases, appreciated. As others have suggested, sit down and discuss with him what part he'd like you to play in the child's discipline, and make sure you know the rules that have previously been set for the kid so that you can be consistent with what his/her parents are trying to teach.
I don't think it's your place. If your boyfriend is around it's his responsibility. When it comes down to it, if he leaves you to watch his child I think you ought to tell him you aren't going to watch the child. Who watches the child is between your boyfriend, the child's mother, and maybe (if they need a babysitter) one the child's grandparents.
Having said that, and assuming you're going to be around this child, young children behave well for adults who are kind, friendly, and respectful but who have a way of letting the child kind of take it for granted that the adult is the "leader" when they're together. With very young children it pretty much takes constant, patient, supervision and calmly letting the child know if he heads for something he shouldn't be getting into.
If your boyfriend's child is older the chances are good that he will "rightfully" feel you have no right to "discipline" him, so he may act accordingly. If your boyfriend cares about, and respects, his child he won't leave him in an unhealthy situation. If he cares about you, and the child is older, he won't expect you to be responsible for an older kid who knows you have no business trying to "discipline" him.
This is going to sound awful, but a lot of fathers (especially young ones, but even older ones) will try to get custody of their children, or will have their visiting time with their children, and try to foist them off on some woman because - when all is said and done - they either don't know how to effectively parent or else have to work. That kind of situation isn't good for the child, and it isn't good for any woman the father expects to pick up the slack when it comes to his own child.
If you are in a relationship as a female with a guy with kids, or a male with a female with kids, and if the kids are around you, you have a perfect right to discipline the kids. If the other person (parent) objects to you disciplining them, or as to how you discipline them, then you may as well kick him/her to the curb.
Don't worry about being out of line. That is a test of how things are and will be if you continue the relationship.
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