I absolutely do not agree with disciplining other people's children. I think very strongly that only the parents of the children should be the ones to discipline them and I would be very annoyed if my son came home from a visit to someone else's house and said that he had been punished for his behaviour.
I often have children at my house and usually I don't have any problems. Of course there are always children who push the boundaries a little, but I've been lucky in that there has never been anything too bad that has gone on... yet.
I do expect certain levels of behaviour from my son in the house.
· I don't let him jump on the bed now that he is nearly 12 as he is likely to hit his head on the ceiling.
· I don't allow him to jump all over the furniture.
· I don't allow food or drinks in the bedroom.
Ideally, when his friends are around, I prefer to stick with these rules but I am also flexible enough to accept this may not always happen.
I think that there are ways of instilling your rules in the children that visit without disciplining them.
Take the sofa - normally the children play in my son's room or outside in the garden anyway. But if they are in the living room watching TV, that's just fine. If I hear things getting a little excitable I just pop my head round the door. If someone is jumping all over the furniture, I'll just make a joke of it in front of everyone so as not to single a particular child out - but make it quite clear that I am not accepting of the behaviour - it normally stops.
If a child is eating in the living room and you would prefer them not to, you can approach it in the same way - just get everyone to go in the kitchen while they finish their food. I normally serve food in the kitchen anyway and just ask everyone to wait until they have all finished. This is more a question of manners than behaviour anyway, and it is very important for children to learn good table manners.
I find using the softly softly approach normally works - and it's much nicer to be known as a "Cool" Mum than a naggy one!
As my son and his friends get older, I'm sure things will change. If I have problems with an attitude of a child or their behaviour that I find difficult, then I'll just call their parents to collect them and explain why. I certainly won't be punishing the child for their behaviour. It is up to the parent to deal with - everyone has different standards and it is not for me to expect other children to live by my rules.
I think that a parent who disciplines another child can make themselves very unpopular.
I remember once on my son's playground, there was a particularly headstrong woman who was unhappy at the way two girls were "treating" her daughter. It actually turned out that her daughter was a very bossy child and they just didn't want to play with her for a little while. But instead of leaving the children to sort themselves out, or asking a dinner lady or class teacher to keep an eye on the situation - something I have myself done in the past - she went straight up to the two girls in question one morning and reprimanded them for being nasty! Of course the girls - only aged 8 at the time - burst into tears and ran up to their own mums - who in turn went straight to the Headmistress and made a formal complaint. Her actions had not only made her very unpopular, but also meant that the children involved didn't want to play with her daughter even more because they were scared of what her mum might say or do.
It is a very emotive subject. I don't like my son to be told off by other parents.
I have been in a situation where an adult told my son off for being a bit clumsy and spilling a drink. In my opinion she was a bit too heavy handed with her approach and things have never quite been the same between us. I saw the accident happen and I was about to get my son to clean up the spillage and ask him to be more careful, but she got there first, was very sharp with him and made him feel stupid in front of everyone - something that I try hard not to do as he is a very sensitive child.
Of course, there are levels of behaviour which are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. If my son was destroying someone's property, hurting another child or using offensive language then I would not expect another adult to let that continue.
But I wouldn't expect him to be disciplined by them either. Phone me, get me to collect him and I will decide on the punishment. Believe me - I have an array of punishments to be handed out and know exactly what will hurt him most.
As I mentioned earlier - my son at the moment has a good group of friends and I have never felt the need to discipline any of them.
But even if they were the worst bunch of children I had ever come across - who swore at me, ripped the stuffing out of my sofa and spit on the floor, I wouldn't discipline them - I just would send them home and never allow them in my house again!