What to do About Other People’s Unruly Children

By Elizabeth Pantley

Do you have a friend or family member whose children are unruly and disobedient – yet this parent does nothing to correct them? What should you do?

When you and a friend or family member have different parenting styles it can become a very sensitive issue. Chances are she doesn’t see her kids the same way you do. Tread lightly when you approach issues about other people’s children because life-long friendships and family relationships can be broken over contrasting parenting approaches. Here are some things you can do to deal with the misbehaviour while protecting the relationship.

Use distraction and redirection

If you see a problem brewing, step in and invite the children to get involved in a game or an activity. Keeping the kids busy may help avoid confrontation or problems.

Focus only on the issue at hand

Find a solution to the current problem only, don’t address personality or lifestyle. Do what’s necessary to get through the visit. Make your comments about the action or the group, not the individual child.

Share parenting knowledge in a non-threatening way

Invite your friend to accompany you to a parenting class or to attend a lecture. Share a copy of your favourite parenting book – tell her what you love about it and maybe point out an interesting but non-threatening passage.

Pick your battles  

Try to take pleasure in your visits and overlook the petty issues. Focus on the things you enjoy about your friend and open your heart to finding some things to enjoy in her children, as well.

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