Australian parenting expert and father-of-six Dr Justin Coulson shares his thoughts on discipling other people’s children.

When he was recently asked by a mum if she was right to intervene in a disagreement between her son and another child.

‘The short answer is “Heck Yes!” Dr Coulson wrote on his blog.

‘We have a responsibility to discipline other people’s kids – particularly when they’re not doing it themselves.’

‘It [discipline] derives from the word Latin word, disciplina, which means instruction or knowledge,’ he explained.

‘This puts an alternative spin on things! Disciplining is not about punishing, it is about teaching, whether it’s our child or somebody else’s child.

‘And if done correctly, with gentleness and kindness, most parents would welcome another parent teaching their child about the right way to behave.’

‘Kids need discipline. But it should always be focused on guidance, instruction, and helping.

‘When it is, we can be safe in saying that it’s everyone’s responsibility to be involved in raising and disciplining kids.’

Read his full response here.

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  • If the other children are in your home and are breaking your household rules, damaging something or injury is likely, you have the right to discipline other children if the parents don’t do so.
    Your house, your rules. The last thing you want is other children doing what yours aren’t allowed to do


  • It is a fine line, you have to do it in a loving manner though, and not come down like a ton of bricks. Depending on the age to how you would talk with them, explaining what is happening. As yes a lot of times someone else saying something can do all the world of good.


  • I had a sister in law who used to love stepping in and disciplining her nieces and nephews. She reckoned it was because kids are more likely to listen to others then their parents. My kids hated her, still do, they remember all the times she growled at them and it iffy an impression. Another sister in law was a huge disciplinarian and my kids hate her too. So it’s a fine line for sure, maybe if my sils used more tact and less grouch it might have had a more positive effect


  • Its a fine line to discipline other peoples children. Depends if they were in danger or putting others in danger.


  • I agree.


  • Intervention and instruction is an important part of living.


  • I like this take on discipline


  • I would intervene if it was appropriate to do so. Sometimes parents aren’t paying any attention to heir kids and their kids do something that puts my child in an awkward situation or is unpleasant so yes I will discipline their child if they don’t do it.


  • It depends on context and other factors.


  • Great perspective of the word. I certainly would intervene


  • What a great way of explaining things. When we hear the word ‘discipline’ we do think punishment but that should not be the case.


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