Question: My neighbor’s kids drive me crazy with their misbehavior! I know I can’t discipline the kids, but I want to be able to enjoy my time with their family. Help!
Elizabeth Pantley responds: What to do? Here are a few ideas that may help:
Spend more time on your turf. When possible, meet at your home. Let all the kids know exactly what your expectations are. In other words, My house, my rules. Be kind and friendly but firm: “Hugo, in this house we don’t jump on the sofa.” Often, kids who misbehave at home will behave correctly when given rules to follow at your house.
Stick to the current problem. Don’t try to raise other people’s kids. Focus on the specific issue at hand. Find a solution to the problem only to the extent necessary to make things run smoothly where your children or your property is involved.
Don’t stew and mumble. It’s easy to gripe and complain about a kid’s behavior. It doesn’t solve anything. Instead, avoid accusing or blaming. Simply state the problem and suggest solutions. Once you have a plan, calmly follow through.
Let them handle it. Memorize this line: “They’re not my kids.” Allow the parents to deal with the misbehavior (or not deal with it, as the case may be). Step in only to protect your kids or your property.
Visit without the kids. Do you enjoy the parents but dread time spent with their kids? Arrange for more visits to occur when the kids are in school or otherwise occupied. Or meet at adult-oriented activities where the kids will need to be left home with a babysitter.
Pick your battles. Ignore the petty stuff, focus on the important things and be thankful your own children are well behaved.
© Elizabeth Pantley; excerpted from Parent Tips, Perfect Parenting and Kid Cooperation
Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley is the author of numerous parenting books, including the widely cited The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. Buy her books at Powells.com. She is a regular radio show guest and is quoted frequently on the web and in national family and women’s publications. Elizabeth lives in Washington state with her husband, their four children and her mother. Visit her at www.pantley.com/elizabeth.
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