One part of parenting that no one enjoys is disciplining your children. The way you discipline your kids is a very personal parenting choice. But what happens when you aren't the one disciplining your child? What happens when someone else yells at your child? And, more importantly, how do yo tell someone not to yell at your kid?
In extreme situations, like your child being in harms' way, then it's acceptable for a stranger to yell at your little one. But what if a stranger yells at your child because your kid is being too loud at a restaurant or a store? Or if a stranger yells at your child because they don't like their behavior on the playground? Would you be able to jump into action and confront the other adult immediately or would you be so shocked that you'd say nothing? How about if it's family member that is yelling at your child?
It's a sticky situation, but it happens a lot. So rather than go home and think for three days about what you should have said to that person or have the situation escalate immediately, it's important to think about what happened, what was said, and how you can handle the situation with you and your child's best interest in mind. To help you the next time someone barks at your child, here are three to tell someone "thanks, but no thanks."
1. Be Present
What This Looks Like: Be close to the situation and engaged with your kids.
Why this works: Sometimes your presence is enough to deter any negative comments from another person. While giving your children some independence is a good thing, being relatively close to your kids and present. This means not being on your phone for long periods of time or fully engaged in a conversation with someone else.
When to use it: When you're in a public setting such as a playground or park and another person is making comments to your children about their behavior.
2. Assess The Situation Before You Respond
What this looks like: Ask questions like "What's going on here?" and "What seems to be the issue?" Make sure you have the full story before you react.
Why this works: It gives yourself time to access the situation. Was the other person out of line? What was said? It also gives you time to access your child's feelings and figure out the next best steps.
When to use it: When you weren't around to see what exactly happend and you need to buy yourself a few minutes to compose yourself.
3. Be Direct
What This Looks Like: In a calm but firm manner, tell the other person "This is my child and I will handle disciplining them." If it escalates, walk away.
Why It Works: Often times, people don't expect direct responses from other people and can be shocked that you address their behavior. It's also important for your kids to see you stand up for them but not to get into an arguing match
When To Use It: When someone has clearly overstepped their boundaries by yelling at your child.
4. Talk Directly To Your Child
What this looks like: Ask your child "Are you OK? Do you want to leave?"
Why it works: In any situation, your child is the more important than the other person. This is why you should deal with your child's needs first before moving on to the person that yelled at them. Also if the adult sees how upset your child is, they may think twice before yelling again.
When to use it: When your child is visibly upset from being yelled at.
5. Difffuse With Humor
What to say: "Oh my goodness everyone is being so silly around here!"
Why it works: These can be very uncomfortable situations and humor has a way to diffuse the tension.
When to use it: When it's a minor situation that you just want to be over, or you're not comfortable with confrontation. Your sanity and your child's happiness are the first priority
6. Be Passive Agressive
What to say: "We don't yell at strangers. It's not very nice."
Why it works: Passive aggressive comments are so difficult to compete with, because the other person doesn't always know how to respond. It also makes you seem like you are keeping your cool, even if you're not.
When to use it: When you are dealing with someone that seems to be OK with a yelling match and you are not.
7. Set Boundaries
What this looks like: Saying "When you are taking care of my kids, I'd like you to use the same discipline techniques that we use."
Why this works: If you are asking friends and family to care for your kids, telling them exactly how discipline works in your house and that you'd like that to carry over in their care eliminates any questions on what works for you and what doesn't.
When to use this: With anyone that will be caring for your child for long periods of time.