xperts suggest parents try these techniques when dealing with other people’s children.

n If children squabble, help them work out their own solutions.

“Too often, parents want to step in for their kids,” said Sharon Romppanen, a parent education instructor for Bellevue Community College.

Parents can stop altercations, but let the kids make amends, she suggests.

n If a parent is present but seemingly unaware of a child’s behavior, a casual “You might want to check on Billy” should prompt some action, suggested Joanne Barber, a PEPS group facilitator.

Another approach is to state the facts: “John pushed Mary.”

n Keep playdates short. This helps prevent misbehavior that stems from children being overexcited or tired. One hour is plenty for many preschoolers, Romppanen said. If kids simply aren’t getting along, the host should call the other parent to pick the child up, with the assurance they can try again another day.

n Pick your battles with other people’s kids; focus on safety and preventing property damage. Ignore the open-mouth chewing.

n Remember kids might not break rules deliberately. What’s obviously a no-no to you might be acceptable in their home.

“Young children are still learning other people have other rules,” Romppanen said. “It’s confusing to them that they’re not allowed to do something here that they can at their house.”

n Give kids the benefit of the doubt. One mom was appalled when a child who just moved into the neighborhood walked into her house without knocking. It turned out he was accustomed to an open-door policy with friends in his old neighborhood.

n Reiterate important house rules to visitors, but focus on the positive. For example: “At our house we sit on the couch instead of jumping on it” or, “We only eat snacks at the table, not walking around on the carpet.”

n Choose neutral territory for a playdate, such as a park or zoo.

n Don’t judge, lest your second child be payback. Feel smug because your angel proves your parenting style is the best way?

Wait until your second child turns out to be “spirited” and proves all your theories wrong.

n Know what makes you crazy and try to head it off. Your child’s friend never picks up toys? Meet at a playground instead. Your teen’s friends eat through your kitchen cabinets like locusts? Buy cheap snacks such as popcorn and frozen pizzas and make it clear this is the only food up for grabs.

n If the other parent isn’t around to see a child’s misbehavior, be mostly truthful. For example: “They had a hard time today” (not “Your child was a horrid brat”).

n If older kids refuse to listen, send them home. State, “These are the rules at our house. If they’re too hard for you to follow, it’s time for you to go,” suggests Romppanen.

n With a close friend or family member, take a “we’re all in this together approach” for offering advice. For example: “I read this great book that really helped me curb Johnny’s whining.”

n Brainstorm ways for your child to deal with another child’s misbehavior or “bad choices.”


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