One of our jobs as parents is to teach our children how to be sociable, how to interact with others (both adults and other children) in a friendly and respectful manner. This is vital for them to learn as knowing how to behave towards others is essential to get along in society – it’s part of being a good citizen. We begin to teach our children good manners as soon as they are old enough – we teach them to say please and thank you to start with and then develop their manners and good behaviour from then onwards. When our children don’t behave well or are ill mannered, we are usually quick to jump on it and remonstrate with them, insisting on an apology (which is also a part of the social etiquette children need to learn).
However, what about when somebody else’s child is rude –and it happens in your house? How should you handle it? What about if the child’s parent is there and not addressing the situation – what can you do then? After all, we all have different values and the behaviour that we expect in our own homes is not necessarily the same as that in all other homes. It probably won’t happen that often, but here are a few pointers that will help you.
If the other child is being rude or nasty to your child, take a minute or two to watch before stepping in. Children will often take care of the situation themselves – if this is the case, make sure to discuss it with your child later, praising him for dealing with the situation tactfully and making sure it didn’t get out of hand.
If your child is unable to deal with the behaviour, then try taking the child aside and saying “In our house we don’t use words like that and we make sure we are always nice to each other”. Or what about “In our house, we ask for something to eat or drink – we don’t just open the fridge and help ourselves”? This tactic is likely to be effective and most children visiting a playmate’s home will want to fit in and conform to the family’s behaviour.
What about a repeat offender? Just say to the child “I’ve let you know that we don’t do this in our house. If it happens again I will have to call your Mum to come and collect you early”. If the other child’s parent will be unable to collect them early and they know this, then you’ll have to create another consequence such as not being able to play upstairs or in the garden or not being able to play with the pets.
What about telling the other child’s parents about their behaviour? You’ll have to play it by ear on this one and it will also depend on whether or not the other child’s parents are friends of yours or not. If you’re not particularly friendly with the other parents, then telling them about their child’s behaviour may put them on the defensive and also put your child in an awkward position if the other child is later disciplined.