Do You Discipline Your Nieces/nephews?

Updated on March 01, 2011
A.D. asks from Washington, DC
25 answers

My sister and her family live next door to me and I see them every single day without fail. She has a 6 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. My kids are 2 and 5 months old, and they all love playing together most of the time. I'm having a really hard time with how mean her kids are though, and it's starting to affect our entire family. My husband absolutely hates having them over--the 6 year old boy is literally the loudest human being I have ever met in my life and he is constantly bossing the little ones around. Recently I overheard him yelling at my 2 year old to "Shut up and leave me alone!" when he asked him if he could play with one of his toys. My sister was sitting right next to them and completely ignored it--just went along with her business on the computer while my son cried and wanted a hug. I told my nephew that he was being extremely mean and I will not allow him to talk to anybody that way. His response floored me..."well i'm a big kid, and this is just how big kids act. I'm allowed to act like this in my house". I quickly gathered my kids up and left, I was just too angry that my sister allows her child to talk to people this way. My niece screams whenever she doesn't get her way, and when I'm watching her (which is 3-4 times a week) she will completely melt down and start hitting me whenever I tell her No or correct her in any way. My son gets popped on the butt if he doesn't listen the first time, and as a result HE LISTENS and is generally a very well behaved toddler so far. I'm at a loss over what to do with my niece and nephew--I love them to pieces, but I am starting to hate being around them. So what do you guys think? Do you discipline your siblings kids? How should I bring this up to my sister without causing a fight with her?

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answers from Denver on

I'd be very unhappy if anyone else SPANKED my kids or "popped" them in any way. But if a stern word was in order and I wasn't stepping in (with me, this would only be if I had fallen asleep but still), I'd be OK with someone else stepping in.

I have had to speak sternly to children who were not mine before. If it made their parents angry, they didn't say so. And besides, THEY should have done something and didn't - so if they didn't like it, too bad.

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answers from St. Louis on

I disclipne my sisters/brothers children just like I do my own spanking, timeouts, no t.v. whatever it may be. On the other hand I have NO problems with them discliping my kids either. We all have similar parenting styles.

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answers from Spokane on

When my nephews are in my home (with our without their parents) they are expected to follow the same rules as my children and if they don't they get the same consequences as my children.

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answers from Washington DC on

your house your rules, yes. protecting your own kids, yes. setting a good example, yes. but for all that, would ANY of the folks advocating strict boundaries be okay with someone else, someone whose parenting style differs sharply from our own, be okay with that someone else stepping in and disciplining OUR kids?
not bloody likely.
of course we all feel that our kids are okay and it so it would be different. but it wouldn't.
you do have a right to set house rules, but you must must must discuss it with your sister first, and decide together how much either one of you can intervene with each other's kids. you might be appalled at her lax attitude, but she might be equally appalled with your spanking policy. you cannot just assume that your methodology and philosophy will be okay, any more than you would allow someone else's to supercede your own.
however difficult or uncomfortable the conversation might be, it's vital. she's your sister. even if she's offended, she'll come around, so long as you are sensitive and bring the topic up in a way that is non-judgemental and allows her to bring her opinions and solutions to the table as well as your own.
then compromise.
i completely disagree with the advice to keep your kids separated from hers. they're FAMILY. and you live close to each other. that's a huge wonderful boon. figure out how to make it work. i know you can.

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answers from Chicago on

Sure. I'll discipline (time outs with a talking to) any kid that is in my house and not following my house rules. I don't care if their parents are right in front of me. "We don't act that way here. Apologize or you can sit on the floor until you're ready to apologize and willing to behave."

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Physical discipline is such a hot topic that I don't think I'd administer it on any child that wasn't mine. But there are other things I'd do.

The proper answer to "I'm allowed to act like this in my house" is, "Right now you are at MY house, and here you do NOT act like this." Of course, any time ANY child says, "I'm allowed to at my house," you know that it may or may not be true and that he/she MAY be testing you.

(He may be annoyed at having to play with babies when he's a big six-year-old - in which case you may want to give him some activity he can enjoy by himself for a little while. This is on the good days. I'm not excusing his rudeness.)

If my niece started hitting me and screaming, I would hand her to her mama, if she were there. If her mama were elsewhere and I was taking care of the niece, I would discipline her and then tell her mama the facts of the matter. "I told Susie to stop pulling the kitty's tail and she started screaming and hitting me, so she had a time out in the bedroom. Twice."

When I am taking care of my grandchildren (or any other children), I am responsible for how they behave and how everyone gets along. I know what disciplinary action is taken at their homes, and I try to be as consistent with that as possible, but I need to keep everyone safe and everything going smoothly.

Tell your sister that you (not she - diplomacy!) are having trouble with their behavior, and that you're going to have to correct them from now on whenever they're at your house. Yes, it may cause an argument. She may be offended at being called, by implication, a bad mother. But you may have to do it anyhow, if you are going to avoid mayhem (mayhem-avoidance is good).

When your children are badly treated at her house, leave with them right away without saying much. Just say goodbye and go. One day she may wonder why.

If your sister won't agree with you, she'll need someone else to look after her children, and she'll have to be with them when they are at your house. (That way you can put them on their mama's lap when they misbehave.) Stick to your guns, no matter what other relatives may say.

Here's something to think about. What can you do to make your home a really fun place for children to be? I'm not saying to go out and spend money on things, but if your house can be a place your niece and nephew look forward to visiting, you'll have more influence over their behavior. It's the old "spoonful of sugar" routine.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

In YOUR house, YOUR rules prevail, and if the kids don't follow them they're not allowed to come over.
In your sister's house, HER rules prevail, and if you don't like them, don't let your kids go over there.
But you don't discipline other people's kids unless you're the only adult present.

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answers from Los Angeles on

No offense to Robin M. but are you serious? "keep them separated" Really? Whoa! Totally harsh, IMO. Family is a lot more important to me...I would never distance my kids from their cousins (especially at this age, I mean C'mon, its not like the older ones are pushing drugs on your kids or other disruptive behavior) your nephew and niece just sound a little bratty to me, that's all.

I absolutely discipline my nephews, always have always will. I have babysat and cared for my nephews their whole lil' lives and you better bet your bottom dollar that it is "my house, my rules" some! I never hesitate to call them out on their mouths, if need be, even in front of their parents! IMO, if the parents aren't gonna do it, you should! If your sis has a problem with it, have a talk with her! Easy.

"Uh, Sis...did you just hear him"? "Please do something or I will" that!

Have you ever said anything to her kids than have her tell you she didn't like it? If she hasn't ever asked you to back off, then you do what you would if they were your kids.

If she has had a problem with you doing it, then bring certain situations to light right when they happen. Your sis sounds like she is a lot more relaxed when it comes to the mouthy-ness of her kids...point it out, especially when it effects your kids!

~Hopefully you are close to your sister, like I am with mine...we have NEVER once had an issue with this, but we have the same "moral compass" so to speak...maybe your sis just needs some gentle reminder of where your compass points?

Best of luck to you...I LOVE LOVE LOVE my nephews and would hate a world where they were not in my life!

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answers from Dallas on

No physical discipline at all. In your home, it's your house, your rules. Protect your children and tell the neice/nephew what's expected of their behaviour toward your family regardless of where.

Unless your sister totally doesn't care, if you bring it up she's going to be insulted. She's doing a crappy job of teaching her children how to behave in the world, but it sounds like how SHE behaves so it's not a surprise. Does your sister's behaviour get consequences - doesn't sound like it - and she's passing it on to her kids.

Good luck - this is a tough one.

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answers from Washington DC on

It depends on which side of the family you are talking about. With my brothers and sisters-in-law, my husband and I discipline their kids. With his brother and sister-in-law, we do not discipline the kids, they say it's ok, but it is apparent that it is definitely not ok. For me, I think it all depends on the family dynamic, but I believe that all family should be able to discipline kids. Children have all kinds of authority that they are going to run into outside of the home, so I believe that anyone who is either in a position or is placed in a position of authority over your children should have the right to administer some form of discipline.

We discipline my brother's children when they are present. I just think that if kids are never presented with a form of punishment for their failures to obey then they will think that they don't have to listen. Perhaps not in youth, but eventually they will begin to resist all authority. Just my opinion. Everyone is different. You also have to be sure to respect her boundaries of discipline as well. While her children are in your house they should obey your rules as well as the ones their parents have on them and you should be able to administer a punishment accordingly.

As for the conversation, I don't really know how that works. In my family, we have never had a conversation, but it's always been understood that it was acceptable.

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answers from Los Angeles on

First of all, it is the responsibility of an Aunt to dicipline neices and nephews: DEFINITELY so when they are little and 'in training'. Your first obligation is to your own kids. Aggression and bad behavior in your home is simply unnaceptable. Period.

Here's how it works: YOUR HOUSE, YOUR RULES.
You love these kids, and your sister. The hallmark of a good friendship-or sisterhood: Truth despite the reaction. What kind of Aunt would I be if I didn't bother to address this type of situation? The consequences for these little ones are far too severe for you NOT to address. Your sis's reaction isn't relevant. I know it's easy for me to say-it isn't my situation. However you're obligation is clear....and of COURSE one disciplines children in one's family. These aren't random kids on the street and at the park. Your duty is to have a serious talk with sister - one on one, or even better with husbands involved. All of the adults need to be on the same page. Good luck and more important, God bless!

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answers from Johnstown on

My house, my rules :)

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answers from Minneapolis on

First of all, have you talked with your sister about this? I'd start there. Tell her what you told us, and warn her that when this happens at your house, you're going to enforce your house rules with them, even if it means time-outs or whatever you do with your kids when they misbehave.

If she pushes back, then say you're going to cut down visits because her kids are starting to cause problems at your house. Be honest. Their behavior is causing turmoil and if that is going to be a problem, you can't have them over.

I enforce rules at my house. My SIL doesn't like it sometimes, but she knows if she lets things go too far, she'll lose babysitting priviliges and have a really miserable time at the next family gathering. I guess I'm not as tolerant as you. And in this case, it has proven to be a good thing.

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answers from Columbus on

Well - I would NEVER pop my nephew or nieces on the butt. Hands off anyone elses kids.

Bu if you are in your home then its your rules. If they are having attitude problem they need to be talked to or talk with your sis and see how she disciplines. They are her kids so I feel you need to respect her discipline rules.

I allow my SIL and BIL correct my children using words and words only. If I ever found out they were spanked by them I wouldnt allow them to watch them.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree, when the kids are at YOUR house then YOU get to make the rules.
However, I would not suggest spanking kids that are not your own but you can certainly take away privileges or put in time out.....
I think if you babysit for her regularly, you can make a list of house rules and consequences, post them in your kitchen and make sure she knows about them and review them with all of the kids when they are at your house.

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answers from New York on

Any kid in my charge requiring disciple gets disciplined. I've been a youth group leader, Sunday school teacher, children's church leader, and have raised and am still raising 6 kids of which some are grown now. The little ones at the church love me because I love on them. Sometimes that love means telling them no and giving them consequences. While raising my neices and nephews, I disciplined them the same way I do my son. My sister disciplines my son the same way she does her children. We are in agreement with that. You need a whole hosts of tricks in your bag to deal with children. it can be harder when their parents are there and doing nothing about their misbehavied kid. I do what works. Find out what tools work on her kids and then apply that tool when they are in your care.



answers from Kansas City on

1. Just say to him, "We don't say shut up". If he says he is allowed to at home, say that is fine, but you are not allowed to say it to your cousins. Just be firm and calm. Do not tell him he is mean. An adult telling a 6-year old that they are mean is, well, mean.
2. Don't "pop" her children on the butt without her permission. In my experience, you might not want to hit a two-year old anyway, as they are two, and learning how to behave. In essence, they are almost incapable of doing as you ask the first time, every time, so why hit?
3. Why not ask her--when things are calm--what she thinks about discipline, and tell her your thoughts?



answers from Cumberland on

Of course you love them and when they are at your house-it's your rules. The sad of this is-your sweet children will not elevate them to their level-it is human nature for yours to sink to theirs. I would keep them separated.



answers from Norfolk on

i watch my cousins kids and they are ill behaved to although not because their mom lets them do whatever they want. she knows that i disciplin in my home and that if she wants me to watch her kids i do it by my rules. her kids listen to me better than her and act better for me although not great still. set ground rules for your house and stick with them. wether it be the same spanking you do with your kids or time out. find what orks for her kids (as it may be different from child to child) and stick with it.



answers from Des Moines on

I have 2 nieces, 3 and almost hubby's sister's kids. We have a 6 year old daughter who will do anything to make her cousins sometimes the 5 year old will walk all over her...and she just HAS to have her way! She is a really sweet kid tho...she doesn't get mad or mean. But I have disciplined her before and my SIL actually thanks me for doing it! I'm very close to my nieces(I'm actually the godmother to the younger one) and we watch them often, so I have to discipline. And if their parents aren't there, I always tell them about timeouts. My SIL appreciates it, which I appreciate! I think I might be lucky that way!



answers from Topeka on

I would HATE living next door to a family memeber there goes all the privacy there is no boundaries the respect is out the door.Keep to yourself for a while when they come knocking at your door tell them to go back home your to busy right now leave it at that & maybe after the first dozen times you sister will come knocking asking you what is going on then at that moment spill your feelings onto her..
Yes I will tell my nieces/nephews to calm down or stop horse playing stop hitting whatever it is they are doing to hurt the other child.I had to stop watching my 3 nephews because of their unruly behavior.



answers from Richmond on

if your sisters kids cant behave properly, sent them home and tell their parents that they are not wanted around you or your kids until they learn to behave, no discussion, no time outs, just a very clear, this is the way we are going to do things, if you dont like it, theres the door, use it.if the little monsters will shout at your kids right in front of you, just imagine what they do to your kids when you are not right there.
K. h.



answers from Kansas City on

Yes, you have the right to discipline the children as to how to act in your home. You do not have to put up with bad behavior in your home.

Now, HOW to discipline, that is the question. DISCIPLINE means TO TEACH. So many people think punishment is the same thing. Not true. You can discipline (TEACH) children how to act in your home, and around you and your kids. I don't know that I would pop their behind.

I like that you picked your kids up and left when the *cough*brat*cough* 6yo CHILD challenged you - an ADULT!! What happened to respecting your elders?

I am glad my sister has well behaved children so I don't have to even think of such a thing. SHE tells them anything she wants them to do, and would be offended if I or anyone else would.


answers from Dallas on

I haven't read a lot of responses, but I do like what KT said. I'm pretty close to my sisters and their kids. One of my sisters has 3 boys who act up a lot. If she's around I let her handle her kids for the most part. There are times when I say that's not right to them and correct their behavior. A lot of times we are at our parents so I let her take care of her kids. Sometimes her boys are just mean to each other. Now her youngest and my oldest son do not get along too often. Not sure why exactly they can't stand each other so I try to keep mine away from hers because he is the oldest. However, he likes to blame my son, and thank goodness his dad has seen him telling fibs. Now don't get me wrong, I've yelled plenty of times at my son to change his behavior to his cousin.

I do think you may be too close to your sister. Tell your sister how you feel. Let her know that in your house, your rules like KT said. Also, let her know you'll be expecting her kids to respect you no matter what, if she wants to let her kids walk on her, that's up to her. You will not let some little kids be disrespectful to you. She may be mad at you for awhile but she will agree with you, especially when she see her word is no good with her own kids. Remind her that you do love your niece and nephew, but their behavior isn't accepted. Let her know how you want to handle their misbehaving in your house. If you want to send them home or what.

Good Luck!


answers from Chicago on

I treat any child that I or my son is spending time with the exact same. If I know that their parent is successful in certain techniques over others I will use those as well. Be in for a battle though because they all have to LEARN YOUR RULES and they have to get the consistancy factor as well. My SIL and BIL's kids are difficult and oddly enough a few of the kids (the hardest to handle) love me the "mostest" and I think it's because I put restrictions on them (equal to the rest) and i do not let them get away with things others do.

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