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Can I discipline someone else’s kid?

Question

I need a “go to” remark for situations in which other peoples’ children are obviously being rude to me as an adult.

Answer

If you are supervising and thus responsible for the child, then use your customary discipline techniques and simply inform the youngster’s parent of what occurred.

The more uncomfortable situations are those where a child has been rude to you in the presence of their own parent, and no discipline occurs by that parent. You should speak up and tell the child that such behavior is not acceptable.  This is a great lesson for your own youngster who might be observing this behavior and may view uncorrected misbehavior as acceptable.

I understand you don’t want to hurt the feelings of other parents in such situations. However, the welfare of your own child is always more important that the feelings of another parent.

Question

I struggle with my weight and wonder how much of this should be discussed in front of my kids.

Answer

Kids need to see their parents as human, and observe how they deal with dilemmas that kids will confront throughout their life.

Within moderation and depending upon the age of the children, parents shouldn’t be reluctant to have their kids witness spousal disagreements, discussion of sensitive topics, and honest expressions of emotions.  These all represent great opportunities for youngsters to learn about problem solving, communication, and recovering from mistakes.

Frame this issue about weight around developing healthy lifestyle choices, not just physical appearances. Talk about the importance of exercise and eating nutritional foods. Set an attainable goal for yourself and let your children observe how you struggle and sometimes fail in achieving that goal, but have the resiliency to continue working. These are all great lessons for your kids.

Question

My preteen daughter is starting to select her own clothes, and some of the things she wears look horrible on her. I tell her she looks great because I don’t want to hurt her feelings and make her feel bad, but I feel guilty for doing this.

Answer

Stop lying.  Developing an honest relationship built upon trust is more important than making her feel good in the moment.

If your daughter selects clothing that you don’t think looks good, reaffirm that it is her decision but that the clothing is not your personal favorite. This is also a great opportunity to teach your daughter about colors, style, body types, and coordinating accessories.

However, this is all about personal preferences and what happens to be fashionable. As long as your daughter is not wearing sexually suggestive or inappropriate clothing, I wouldn’t make a big deal about it.

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