18 answers

How to Handle Toddler Whose Mother Does Not Discipline at All!

I got together with two friends over the weekend for a playgroup/Mom get together. My son is 2 1/2 and their sons are 3 1/2. I am not a super strict Mom by any means, but I do expect my son to follow rules inside and outside of my home, including manners, sharing, etc. When we got the boys together, their boys were absolutely unruly and did not receive a bit of discipline from their Mom's. The one in particular was mean, rude, nasty to my son, the other boy, including his own Mother and myself. She did absolutely nothing. I would never allow my son to be nasty, especially to me or another adult. He didn't share and was on the verge of being slightly violent with the toys. I wound up taking a toy away and his Mom gave it back because he threw a fit. He starting hitting with it and I took it back away and would not give it back. He tried to grab a stool and reach it on a shelf, his Mom did NOTHING. The were both jumping all over the toddler bed and furniture, couches, etc. I told my son not to and he listened VERY well, I must say I was quite proud of him and praised him for his good behavior when we left. However I do not want my son to think he can take this mean behavior from his peers. He is still so young and not in daycare, so I don't want him to be scarred or shy of other kids because of this behavior. I also do not like disciplining other people's kids, but if my son is in the mix and could be hurt I have absolutely no problem intervening. Do the other Mom's out there have any advise on how to start teaching their toddler kids to stand up for themselves around peers. Do you have any advise on how to enforce some type of discipline, or speak to other Mother's on the lack of discipline in regards to their children? I do not want to offend, I know they are both good kids. But Holy Cow...I was shocked at the way they were allowed to behave. My son is not in daycare, so I do not want him to have a bad experience with other kids. I try to socialize my son as much as possible, so I do want to encourage a friendship with these two boys, but am now on the fence as to weather or not it is healthy for my son to be around such rude and unruly kids. Any advise on how to handle other people's kids, etc. would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :-)

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Hello K.:

I'm sorry to hear this - how horrible for that boy NOT to have rules and discipline.

I was in a similar situation - here's how I handled it:

1. When the playdate was at my house - I made ALL the children follow my rules - PERIOD.

2. If hitting or fighting started over a toy - the toy is taken away and put in time out. The TOY, yep, but it seemed to work.

3. If we went to another's home: I would tell him child loud enough for the other parent to hear "just because other children aren't behaving, doesn't mean you can act like that."

The second ANYTHING got violent - pushing, hitting with a toy - I would stop it - I didn't care if I offended someone else. But that's me. I would also discipline someone's child too. One parent complained once and I told her that if she wasn't going to do anything about her child's behavior - I would. She didn't like it - because her little Johnny was perfect and just being a boy. Well, I didn't see the other boys acting that way. She was embarrassed and didn't come back.

I hope this helps you!!

Best regards,

C.

I do believe that EVERYONE needs rules and guidelines.

Honestly if these two kids are so poorly behaved I would not consider them a good socialization influence. Unfortenately some people have blinders about thier childrens behavior and the behavior wont change unless the parents are helping the child learn how to behave. One of the other problems is that when children are so young, one year age difference is a huge leap in how they interact and play. I would try to meet other kids in his age group instead. Some ideas: evening storytimes at the library, working moms groups (www.meetup.com).

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As for the other mother, you should say something but do it respectfully which I am sure you will. She may just be an overwhelmed mother who is stuck in a rut and not sure how to change her child's behavior. If she observes your discipline on your child and hers, it may help her out. As for your child handling kids like this, I will give you an example of mine. My daughter has been in full time daycare since 1yr of age. I am a single working mother, hence why she is not with me. My daughter has encountered many unruly kids like this and sometimes their behavior wore off on her. But, my daycare provider always disciplined them both and eventually my daughter did not act out just because the other kids were. My daughter adapted and is absolutely amazing with other children, even if they have never met before. The biggest benefit to my daughters exposure to unruly kids, is that she does not stand for bullying. She has been pushed around and always stands up for herself. She is 4 now and has no problems playing with other children. If another kid is being bad, she knows and doesn't follow their example. Plus I think she is prepared for those teen bullies she will face in the future. She once punched a boy in the face because he kept pushing her. Not that I condone violence, and she knows better, but it was kind of refreshing that she didn't just stand there and take it. Although, we did have to talk about how she handled the situation because I did not want her to think that you can go around throwing punches...that is unacceptable, but you get my point. Maybe it will be good for you to see this mom and her children again. You can set an example for her and your son will start to learn how to handle other children. It will be good exposure for him. It is a win win situation, it will be a great learning experience for you, your child and the other family. The other mother may be in need of some guidance on her disciplining and you could help her out. And you might not have to address her, observing you might be the all the help she needs. And kudos to you for not being afraid to discipline the other child. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'd say you might want to find some other boys/kids for him to play with. The only person you can change is yourself, not them, so take charge and make the change in his environment.

1 mom found this helpful

Unfortunately you can't discipline other people's children. It's just not your place. I know how you feel and the best solution is to seek out other children for your child to play with. I think part of it is also that they are a year older than him, which can equal different behavior. You may find in another year that your then 3.5 year old might be acting a lot like them. Obviously you know that you need to react differently then the other moms did and it's a good lesson for your relationship with your child. If you want to maintain friendships with the moms then you can always plan mom nights out with them. Just because your friends with someone doesn't mean your kids have to be friends. Hope that helps.

1 mom found this helpful

If you want to continue to socialize with these children, you need to adopt a "house-rules" policy. When the children arrive explain that you are glad that they are here to play, and here are the house rules. Give them a few simple rules, no hitting, no throwing toys, etc. Then explain the consequences. If there is fighting over a toy, then the toy goes up here for 5 minutes, etc. Children who hit, need to sit in this chair for a three minutes to calm down. Keep it really simple and upbeat, and explain it all well within the hearing of the other parents. Then if you observe the children misbehaving, you simply step in and enforce your house rules, put the toy up on the shelf and loudly announce okay this needs to stay here for five minutes, house rules. Many times children who do not have rules at home do not know how to behave, and if you preemptivly explain the rules and consequences up-front then they (and the parents) will follow them. Somehow then you are not being mean out of the blue, they know what to expect. If another parent challenges you, you simply say I am sorry those are the house rules. If they choose not abide by them, then they need to leave. Your own child will then witness you enforcing the rules you have in place, and won't think the other childs behavior is okay.
What you don't want to do is keep allowing this other parents lack of parenting take over your house-hold. Several people have advised you to stop playing with this family, and if you continue to have problems maybe. However, this may be a chance to help teach these children appropriate behavior, they won't use it at home if it is not reinforced, but at least they will see what it looks like. What I wouldn't do is accept an invitation to these childrens home, then you would be under their house rules and clearly you don't agree with them.

1 mom found this helpful

I would let the mother of the unruly child know that unless her son starts behaving better that your son will not be aloud to play with him. Unfortunately I have seen this before, my step-sister did the same thing and now her children won't talk to her. If enough people stop playing with this child before he gets to school, maybe she will start disciplining him.
In my house, I let the parents and children know that we have rules and EVERYONE is expected to follow them. I let tthe parents know that if they don't say something to their kids, I will. I generally don't discipline their kids, but I do let them know that we don't do that here. I have done this since my youngest was about3. While I am sure that some people were upset about me saying somehting to their child, I have never had a problem with the parents, and my house seems top be the one where they get together. Children crave discipline, and if you show your friend that it can be done, maybe she try harder with her own child. Basically, it's your house, so you must enforce the rules of your house.

1 mom found this helpful

Quite frankly, I treat our neighbor kids as though they are mine. If one of them does something harmful or if they break the rules in our house, based on the action, I firmly explain the rules of our house. It is easier when both kids are breaking the rules, as it is easy to say, "Hey guys, we don't [insert action here] at our house!" But, regardless, I've taken some of my less favorite neighbor kids aside to say, "Hey, it isn't okay to hit others" or "We don't jump on the sofa at this house."

Regarding how to get your child to stand up for himself, we work on this all the time after one of our less socialized friends comes over. Basically, we just have conversations started with "It wasn't nice when [kid] did [terrible thing]. You know, when he does that, you don't have to put up with it. You can..." My son really listens.

1 mom found this helpful

If you're friends with the mom, ask her if she would like to attend a parenting class with you. I have been really pleased with the help and advice I have gotten from Dr. Rene Hackney at Parenting Playgroups http://www.parentingplaygroups.com/
and they offer classes at a variety of times to teach parents how to deal with all kinds of discipline issues using positive discipline. A nice way to ask could be to say, "sometimes I feel frustrated when my kid does 'x' or 'y', and I've been thinking about going to talk to this really neat lady Rene that someone recommended... would you be interested in tagging along to hear what she has to say?" She also has office hours that are much cheaper ($17 per hour, half hours available), I think, but you might have to email her to ask about this option). Even an expert parent could learn a lot from her, I think! Well, I don't know if it will work out, but I bet that the mom does feel frustrated sometimes and doesn't know where to go for help! Or, maybe you could just point her towards Mamasource -- this really is a great site, isn't it? Maybe she'll get some good parenting advice that way!

Hello K.:

I'm sorry to hear this - how horrible for that boy NOT to have rules and discipline.

I was in a similar situation - here's how I handled it:

1. When the playdate was at my house - I made ALL the children follow my rules - PERIOD.

2. If hitting or fighting started over a toy - the toy is taken away and put in time out. The TOY, yep, but it seemed to work.

3. If we went to another's home: I would tell him child loud enough for the other parent to hear "just because other children aren't behaving, doesn't mean you can act like that."

The second ANYTHING got violent - pushing, hitting with a toy - I would stop it - I didn't care if I offended someone else. But that's me. I would also discipline someone's child too. One parent complained once and I told her that if she wasn't going to do anything about her child's behavior - I would. She didn't like it - because her little Johnny was perfect and just being a boy. Well, I didn't see the other boys acting that way. She was embarrassed and didn't come back.

I hope this helps you!!

Best regards,

C.

I do believe that EVERYONE needs rules and guidelines.

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