4/27/2006

Yelling at other people's kids III

My neighbors. They've got issues. I tried to find the links in the archives to previous posts about them, but I was unsuccessful. Just know this--they've got issues. One of the neighbor kids came over to play the other day, and I heard the two boys playing happily for some time. Then, suddenly, I heard it. The ominous silence that sends alarm bells off in every mother's head. I went downstairs to check on them, and the door to the back was wide open. I had taken the childlock off the door while we have been showing the house, and the two little monkeys had escaped. I put my shoes on and headed outside, looking for them. It took me a surprisingly long time to find them. They were not in their usual outside spots, and I even started to get a little nervous when I didn't find them in the first 2 minutes of my search. I started shouting their names, and I finally heard a little high pitched answer, which was a relief. I found them playing near an area of the neighborhood where Jacob is expressively forbidden to play. It's an area around a rotting fence and a small stream that has a lot of mud and guck and stuff, and if a child slipped under or around the fence, an adult would be hard pressed to follow. Beyond the fence lies open woods, complete with ponds deep enough for a small child to drown in. Not a place you would want to lose your kid. So Jacob, knowing that he is caught, came running up to me saying, "I'm sorry mom, but he went in the river!" Again, a forbidden spot because that stream runs past the rusty fence into one of those ponds. Jacob's friend emerged from the bushes wet and muddy. Clearly, he had been in the water. "What were you guys doing back there?" "Nothing", his friend answered. "Well, Jacob says you were in the river, and your shoes and pants and wet and muddy. Did you go in the river?" Now, I didn't know if that area is forbidden to this kid or not. (I found out later that it is indeed off limits to him, too.) I actually wasn't probing to attack, I just wanted to know what happened, why they were playing where Jacob knew they shouldn't be. Was there a frog, a rusty truck, an abandoned skateboard, a deer skeleton (yes, those have been found from time to time--boys really dig 'em!), what? I just wanted to know what happened. This kid yells at me, "NO!" and takes off running in the opposite direction, which is, I might point out, also the opposite direction of the house and towards the open woods. And I was responsible for him. "Hey, c'mon back", I called, but he kept running. I called again, he screamed "No!" again, and continued his sprint. Luckily, I can run faster than a 4 year old, and I caught up with him quickly. I stopped him by his shoulders, and crouched down next to him. "Don't run away from me like that", I said, and I tried to use a voice as gentle as possible. If it had been Jacob, however, I would have been much more stern. "I just want to know what happened over there." Predictably, he wriggled and squirmed (what kid likes to be caught?), and refused to look at me or talk to me. Eventually he even tried to hit me, and I finally let him go once he said, "I'm going home!" He took off again, this time towards his house, and I checked in to make sure he got there. He was upset, but came over later. In the evening, however, his mother caught him at the river again (I was no longer in charge then), and you can bet he wished it had been me! But my question is, when you are in charge of somebody else's child, and they deliberately disobey, disrespect, destroy, whatever, how far can you go in disciplining them? I'm not talking about serious discipline or anything, but I felt constrained in dealing with this child's disobedient and potentially dangerous behavior because he wasn't mine. I would have handled Jacob much differently, but you can't treat other people's kids the way you treat your own, can you? At the same time, though, this child needed to understand that when he is in my care, running away is not an option, especially not towards an area he is not allowed to go. But I just wasn't sure how to convey this message in a way that would not be totally offensive to the other mom, had she heard it, or damaging to the relationship between him and my son. Then again, in light of all of that, maybe some damage to the relationship might not be so bad after all! Any thoughts?

14 Comments:

Blogger dede said...

I don't know why this isn't something we discuss with people whom our children spend a lot of time with. Because it always comes up.

I gave my nephew, who I was babysitting at the time, a time-out for breaking one of our house rules. His mother was furious that I had disciplined her child. I explained to her that when he is at my house he is expected to behave in a certain way and if she is not ok with me "disciplining" him then he can no longer come over.

I don't see anything wrong with disciplining children in our care as long as it isn't spanking or physical in nature.

4/27/2006 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mrs. M said...

Woah. I guess I expect that my kids will follow the rules at other people's houses and if they don't, I expect that the other mom will discipline them. I do when kids come to my house. Isn't the last thing every mom says when she drops her kids off at someone's house, "Be good and listen to Mrs. _____. I love you. Bye!"

It's probably a very good idea to discuss it.

4/27/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Previous installments:
How to Yell II

How to Yell I

4/27/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

I think you handled it just great. When other kids are in my care, I don't discipline them with timeouts as I do my daughter because that may not be what they're accustomed to.

By the same token, I don't just let them run all over me and don't have second thoughts about reprimending them verbally and taking away privileges!

4/27/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Heidi Ann said...

If it were me, I would've sent the other child home for the day. At least for something as serious as what he did. He would've been free to come over the next day though. Obviously, he left on his own. I think you did fine. Sending him home would've eliminated any need for a time-out or lecture or what have you and he gets your point. Of course, this is only assuming you're not babysitting, where clearly you couldn't send him on his way. I do remember my parents doing this once or twice when my friend had intentionally broken a known rule. They never had to do it twice with the same person, and my friends always came back to play. Just my 2 cents.

4/27/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Maybe it's just me, but when my kids are in someone else's care (ie: an adult I trust) I totally expect them to obey the rules of the house they are in, and fully expect and appreciate it when they are disciplined per those rules.

Maybe this is ok with me because my kids don't have any casual school friends yet, and I only leave them with people I know are of similar standards- so it really hasn't been a problem. Even as I write this, I can see how that won't always be the case though, and I wouldn't like it if someone were to hit my child, or some other method of discipline we don't regularly use.

I can't imagine a mom getting ticked at a time-out... we all use that one! I guess we probably should discuss it more with the people our kids befriend.

All that aside, you were very patient with the boy- I would have wanted to throttle him for running away- a big no-no in our house.

4/27/2006 08:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve said...

My two cents would be to discipline the guest child the same way I would my own child, especially when my kid is there. You have to keep order in the way you know, not only because it's unreasonable for someone to expect you to change your house rules for each guest but also because your child needs consitency. Watching their friend escape the expected consequences can't be good for discipline.

That said, I think you did what could be done in that situation, though I think I would have gone after him to explain to his mom what had happened.

4/27/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

I probably should have talked to his mom about him running away, but I have observed this behavior before. He ran away from me when he and Jacob had an altercation, and both of them hit each other. I walked Jacob over to apologize, and this kid said, "I'm not going to say sorry, he hit me first (which I think was probably true), I WON'T!" and he took off running. I called to him to say that Jacob needed to say sorry to HIM, but he just kept running. I figure he does this because he's gotten away with it in the past, which tells me his mom probably doesn't pursue him the way I did. So she may not think that running away is all that big a deal.

To me, it's a huge deal, and Jacob has never even attempted it.

Another problem that we've had with this kid is that once he wouldn't leave. He refused to go home when I told him play time was over. I literally picked him up and deposited him outside his house, and told him to go home. He then stood outside my house in the backyard for at least 5 minutes, periodically shouting (loud enough, I know, for his mother to hear), "I WON'T go home!"

I mean, what do you do with THAT?

He did eventually get tired when he realized that I wasn't coming outside to talk to him anymore.

Like I said, they've got issues.

4/27/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Anon-

Thanks for finding the links.

4/27/2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our neighborhood is new and there are no fences yet, so all of our backyards adjoin and it's like a huge field/park where the kids all play together. There is usually a mom or two outside, and it's just expected that you gently correct the kids when needed - telling kids not to hit each other, etc. - whether they are your kids or not.

I've found that kids take discipline from someone else much more personally than they take discipline from their own parents. The other day, outside, I told one little girl (gently, I thought) that she couldn't use a rake as a sword and she burst into tears and ran home, and has avoided me ever since. Oh well.


When kids are at my house to play - well, my girls are 3 and 4, and most of their friends live really close by - next door, two doors down, across the backyard, etc. When there is major trouble, I walk them home and they explain to mom what happened and I let her deal with it. When there is minor trouble, I repeat the rule and get them involved in something else.

4/28/2006 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Trivial Mom said...

I haven't had to deal with friends who really misbehave yet, so maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, but this is my take.

Neighbor kids, friends, whoever, their parents left you in charge. Obviously they trust you a little bit (or they really don't care, and then they shouldn't be allowed to have kids anyways). So I think that you are fine disiplining non-physically. Like timeouts, verbal reprimands, taking away privledges, or sending them home when you can.

My sister-in-law will never leave her kids with my brother-in-law because he believes in timeouts and that anyone in his house should obey their rules. I won't leave my daughter with my sister-in-law (a second one) because she lets her boy run wild, and I have safety issues with her because there are no restrictions.

Anyways, I just don't understand why you would leave your child with someone who you didn't trust to discipline your child. Or why you would take offense if some did decide you child needed a timeout while they were in their care.

4/28/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I've also found that neighbor kids obey me more quickly and without provocation than my own kids.

heather- what you did was right on. And since his safety was an issue, I would have run after him, too. I've occasionally yelled outside at #1 and her friend when they were climbing the back wall (very sad that they got caught) and didn't think anything of it. Their safety was at hand.

Discipline is a touchy subject, even if it's your own kids, but I agree with the majority of what's been said. I expect my kids to obey the house rules at another house, so why not expect guests to obey our house rules?

4/28/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Starfoxy said...

What always drove me nuts was how do you maintain order in nursery while a kid's parent has stayed behind? Parents in my ward used to just ditch class, and hang out in the nursery chatting. I hated telling the kids to knock it off, or get off of the table while their mom was sitting two feet away studiously ignoring her child. I'm really just venting about that.
More on subject, I would say that it is appropriate to use the same discipline that you would on your own child, drawing the line at anything physical. When it warrants, or need physical discipline then it's time for them to go home. If anyone gets mad at you about it, then you have the perfectly reasonable response that it is exactly how you treat your own children, who you love very much.

4/28/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger a spectator said...

When possible, why not send the kid home as punishment? He would learn soon enough that if he wants to play at your house, he follows your rules. By sending him home, you are essentially grounding him from playing with his friend. I am sure his parents would have no problem with this.

4/30/2006 08:17:00 PM  

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