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Disciplining a friend’s child: good or bad idea?
Q: Is it okay to discipline a friend’s child when he’s being mean or aggressive to my child? Our children are both about 4, but my son is more quiet and reserved and not likely to stand up for himself when my friend’s son takes his toys or food.
Jayda Atlanta
A: Many women have lost friends because they disciplined a mother’s child without having an understanding ahead of time. I think you and your friend need to have a talk. Remind her that children this age have few social skills, which makes it hard for them to get along with each other. Then agree that you’ll each have permission to intervene when the boys go at it. I also suggest that you both agree to reward the boys when they play well together. You could say something like, “I’m so proud of the way you’re getting along.” Or you might say something like, “You boys are playing so nicely today. How about some popcorn?” There are many ways to reward appropriate behaviour; this is the perfect age for such a strategy. Good luck.
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist