Is it right to discipline other people’s children?

When I took my boys to playgroup last week, an older child probably 4 pushed my poor 16 month old son away from the little inflatable ball pool which was infact meant for infants. Despite my annoyance, I first looked around for the parent who immediately came and apologized. It was nice to see that her mum come over to apologize, and also asked the child to say sorry, otherwise I would have been furious.

I would never try to discipline a stranger’s child, shout at them or smack them. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do it to my children either. However, it can be a tricky situation because assuming the parent wasn’t anywhere in sight at that playground last week, I might have told that 4 year old “off” for pushing my 16 month old. I simply wouldn’t stand by silently watching as another child hurt my baby. If no other adult is taking responsibility then I’m not going to let another child just start smacking my children.

One thing I wouldn’t be happy with is when someone I don’t really know tells any of my children ‘off’ in front of me. Now my boys aren’t always very nice, and sometimes they definitely know how to push those buttons- I mean show me a 16 month old or 4 year old who doesn’t. Strangers in particular can have a word with the parents, not the child. Thankfully, I haven’t had it happen to me yet, but I would not be happy if someone I don’t really know disciplined my child in front of me. It would undermine my authority and make me look weak.

However, though I would expect others even strangers to stop my child from being hurt or hurting another child when I’m not there. At the end of the day you cannot do everything by yourself. You would not always be there. It takes a village to raise a child.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

  1. I would be horrified if a mum at playground disciplined my child in front of me. I don’t discipline other people’s children
  2. Every parent would be angry if a stranger started shouting at their children in front of them
  3. Unless it’s a safety issue, its not really up to anyone else to discipline someone else’s child
  4. If the parents are not there and a child is naughty or hitting other children then they need to be told off

Friend’s and Family children

Similarly, disciplining friends or relative’s children is equally tricky. Parents can be protective of their own kids, and can take a personal affront when others discipline their kids even when its done by close friends and family members. But if their behaviour is dangerous or harmful you can’t simply ignore it either. Here are some guidelines that can help:

1. House rules apply. Make sure their kids stick by your rules in your house. A child isn’t likely to obey boundaries unless you set them. Take a few minutes to go over the house rules. E.g. “No running or playing ball indoors, everyone must share, and toys go away when you’re done playing with them.”
2. Discuss the rules with the child’s parent for example, how much TV they can watch and what they can eat for a snack and agree on consequences in advance.
3. Keep your discipline in line with methods generally acceptable in child-care centres and schools.
4. Tread lightly. Don’t ever spank or yell, even if the child does something dangerous or destructive. Your goal is to correct their behaviour, not to punish him.
5. Let the little things go. If a child knocks down a block tower or doesn’t say thank you for the homemade cookies and smoothie you made, you can let it fly. If at all, address them as part of a group: “I can see everyone’s tired of playing this game. Let’s all take a break and sit down for a snack.”


I asked this same question on the ‘Notjustamum’ facebook community few weeks ago. Here are some of the responses from other mums:

If the child is my nephew/niece or a very close friend’s child, yes. I expect my close friend and relative to do the same to mine especially if I trust them. When I would stay at my friend’s place during mid term break because school was in Lagos and I lived in Kaduna, my friend’s mother would say to me “as long as you’re under my roof you have become my child”. I loved her for it! Of cause in this day and age you’ve got to be careful but the saying that it takes a village to raise a child is one I believe in firmly. I won’t allow someone’s child to misbehave under my roof because I don’t want to cause trouble. If you don’t like it, I also will not allow a misbehaving child in my home!
Swat, mum of 3


There is a saying that it is a village that raises a child.
To an extent I agree. So I personally want people trusted family and friends to be able to discipline my kids. Because my company is awesome I trust they are doing it in a godly way. I have nieces and nephews and I discipline them too even my real friends kids.
Comfort, mom of 1


“Relative and close friends yes, with a stranger’s is pushing the envelope. And by discipline, I don’t do physical on another’s child be it a relative’s or friend’s… I don’t want stories that touch the heart and no don’t get physical at all with my kid. I also operate a zero tolerance for any negative word in my house so if you can’t rebuke or discipline a child without being physical or insultive or negative word … DON’T with my kid”
Jaida, mum of  2


“It’s dicey, I can discipline my the kids of really close family e.g. Sister. But I can’t discipline anyone else’s , because is kinda sensitive!”
Tomi, mum of 2


“Will surely discipline a relative of mine by setting time out or going to naughty corner times but not a friend’s child, alternative measures like negotiating and verbal admonition are enough.”
Abby mum of 2


“I would discipline (scold sternly after politely trying to make the child see reason) once the kid is under my roof. While it may not always be pleasurable for me to see my kid disciplined by others, I try to sound it in that if you choose to be naughty, you may get disciplined and I won’t defend you (of course as long as it is nothing extreme).

With our modern day stance on parenting, we run the risk of raising loads of spoilt brats who believe that constituted authority begins and ends at home.

Looking back, the communal disciplinary efforts served to put us in check. You couldn’t misbehave just because your parents weren’t home because you knew that any other adult who say you would either caution you or report to your parents.”

“Saude, mum of 1”


“If it’s a relative’s child, I’ll carefully tell the child that something he/she is doing is naughty, but I wouldn’t discipline friends’ children.”
Marilyn, mum of 2


What are your thoughts, would you discipline a stranger or friends child?  Leave your comments below x


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  1. July 22, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    When kids are around me I can’t help but put my teacher hat on I’m afraid. I would tell children if they were behaving badly. Especially if they came to play at my house. #blogstravaganza

    • Folakemi
      July 24, 2017 / 10:26 pm

      Totally agree with you and i’m not even a teacher. I wouldn’t tolerate bad behaviour in my house. Thank you for commenting!

  2. July 22, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    It’s always such a tough subject. If it was close family and friends then yes I would expect it if I wasn’t there or if I had missed something and not said anything. If it were a stranger I wouldn’t be happy, but my reaction would depend on what they had done. If they hadn’t seen me and had made a comment such as that wasn’t nice I would accept it – I would not accept someone shouting at my child. The reality I think is that people turn a ‘blind eye’ for fear of upsetting others. #Blogstravaganza

  3. July 23, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    This is always a tricky one. I would first hope that said child’s parents would come over and discipline their own child but if there was no response I would probably say ‘that’s not very nice is it? You could have/did hurt him/ her’ or something to that effect but leave it there.
    I wouldn’t want anyone else to shout at my child but if they hurt another child I would be happy for the other parent to say ‘that’s naughty/ not very nice’ and bring it to my attention.
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  4. July 23, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    I would always discipline another child if they were hurting another or being disruptive. Last week at soft play a child was hitting others and I told him to stop. On school trips I have told other children to behave and not climb on things while their own parents look on at their precious darlings and do nothing. I would expect my children to be disciplined if they need to be. A child needs firm boundaries not being shouted at. #blogstravaganza

  5. July 24, 2017 / 8:41 am

    This is a difficult one, but I don’t discipline other peoples children and I wouldn’t expect them to discipline mine.Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    • Folakemi
      July 24, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      Its a touchy subject isn’t it. Agreed, no doubt i wouldn’t want people i dont know disciplining my child. Thank you for reading