What Do I Do When Other People's Kids Drive Me Crazy?

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I think we all know one family whose children annoy us with what we see as persistent misbehavior. It puts you into a very uncomfortable position. You know you can't discipline the kids, but you want to be able to enjoy your time with their family. What to do? Here are a few ideas that may help:

Spend more time on your turf. When possible, meet at your home. Let all the kids know exactly what your expectations are. In other words, "My house, my rules." Be kind and friendly, but firm. "Hugo, in this house, we don't jump on the sofa." Often, the kids who misbehave at home will behave correctly when given rules to follow at your house.

Stick to the current problem. Don't try to raise other people's kids. Focus on the specific issue at hand. Find a solution to the problem only to the extent necessary to make things run smoothly where your children or your property are involved.

Don't stew and mumble. It's easy to gripe and complain about a kid's behavior. It doesn't solve anything. Instead, avoid accusing or blaming. Simply state the problem and suggest solutions. Once you have a plan, calmly follow through.

Let them handle it. Memorize this line: "They're not my kids." Allow the parents to deal with the misbehavior (or not deal with it, as the case may be). Step in only to protect your kids or your property.

Visit without the kids. Do you enjoy the parents, but dread time spent with their kids? Arrange for more visits to occur when the kids are in school or otherwise occupied. Or partake in adult-oriented activities for which the kids will need to be left home with a babysitter.

Pick your battles. Ignore the petty stuff, focus on the important things, and be thankful your own children are well behaved.

(Reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Pantley, author of Parent Tips, Perfect Parenting and Kid Cooperation; copyright 1999)

Credits: Elizabeth Pantley

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