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How to Deal with Other People's Kids

Snehal Motkar
Kids are innocent and always spontaneous in their behavior. It is the adults who need to have the knowledge of dealing with them, especially when they are the kids of other people. Parenting tells you about certain ways to deal with other kids.
Treating kids as grown ups while having a conversation will inculcate a sense of responsibility in them, which will ultimately result in good behavior.
At times, dealing with other people's kids becomes difficult, especially when they are on the verge of misbehavior. For instance, imagine you are at a cloth store and you encounter two kids, a brother and sister, busy fighting with each other over a toy. The girl has snatched the toy from her brother's hand and is running a marathon around the store.
The boy is chasing her and after a while both of them start hitting each other to get back the toy. You are totally astounded with the entire scene and wondering what exactly should be your role in this situation.
Should you intervene and stop the kids? Or should you give them lessons about what is right and what is wrong? Or should you look around for their parents? Or should you just ignore what is happening and do your own work?
This, and similar other circumstances are likely to make you feel that you are at a loss when it comes to dealing with kids of neighbors or friends, or any other child, for that matter. Following are a few guidelines as to what is expected out of you, while being around other kids.

Dealing with Other People's Kids

These are a few general things you have to follow while dealing with other people's kids in normal situations.
Maintain Eye Contact while Talking
It is extremely important to get down to the kid's height and maintain eye contact while talking to them.
When you get to the eye level of the child, they feel comfortable while communicating. On the contrary, if you stand and talk to kids, they might find it intimidating and may not open up. Moreover, it shows an authoritative gesture, and even if you are making general statements, kids may take it as instructions or commands.

Listen to Them

Kids have lots and lots of things to talk about, and when they find that someone is listening to them with keen interest, they feel very happy. Moreover, if you respond to their talking in a positive way, they will in turn listen to you and do what you expect them to do.
Know Their Habits
This is applicable when you have little ones as your guests and you are their caregiver for the time being.
You know your kids in and out and what works better with them. However, when you are a caregiver for other kids, when they are at your place, it is always better to know certain things about them in advance, like their food habits, interests, favorite activities, etc. It will help to keep them engaged and have a good time at your place.
Avoid Touching Unnecessarily
While a gentle pat on the back once in a while is okay, frequent hugs and kisses make some kids feel awkward. They feel wary about strangers touching and getting close to them. Therefore don't make kids uncomfortable by doing such things.

Dealing with Them in Difficult Situations

It might be the case that the kids are behaving in a really bad manner and you ought to do something to get the situation under control. However, while doing so, there should be some limitations on your actions because you are a temporary caregiver and cannot be harsh with the kids.
Don't Parent/Discipline Them
I know it may sound a little off track but, it's true. It is the job of their parents to teach the kids and they might be doing it right on their part.
Moreover, if the kids are at your place, put forth the rules of your home and tell them that they are expected to follow those rules during their stay in your house. However, if the kids don't respond in a positive way, don't start disciplining them or commenting on their bad upbringing. Observe them throughout and report to their parents if the need arises.
Distract the Child
If the kid starts asking questions like 'Do you think my mom loves my younger sister more than me?' or 'From where do kids come from?', it is obvious that you don't want to answer them directly.
Try to redirect the child to some fun-oriented activity, or if that doesn't work, give them something nice to eat, which will surely get their mind off that topic. This shall also work if the kids are destroying decorative pieces in the house or fighting with each other over toys. In any case, avoid saying things like 'Don't do that'; it won't really help.

Don't Standardize Rules for Good Behavior

Different people have different perspectives about good and bad behavior. Whatever you interpret as 'misbehavior' may not be the same for others. So don't label the child as a 'misbehaved individual'. Moreover, a little mischief is the sign of the kid's innocence, and hence, don't expect them to be confined to one place and sitting in pin-drop silence.

Think Before Intervening in Fights

Fights and conflicts are a part and parcel of kids' play. They keep fighting and resolving as long as they are together. Hence, there is no need for parents to interfere in their fights and lecture them on the right and the wrong. However, what if you have a few kids as your guests and they indulge in a fight with your kids?
Well, since their parents are not around, you cannot step in the fight to stop it. This will worsen the situation and all the kids will be upset. Instead, you can just remind them that you are watching and will surely report to their parents.

Talk to the Parents If Necessary

If a particular child behaves in an unusual way like asks personal questions, investigates through the darker areas of the house, or listens to your private conversations, make it a point to convey it to the parents, but in the correct manner. Don't use abusive language or comment on their parenting style because it hurts.
Also, don't force them or give unnecessary suggestions as to how they should solve the problem. Instead, ask for the views of other parents about such behavior and if they think that it is not a great issue, know about their method of handling such a situation.
Now that you are aware about the correct techniques of dealing with other kids, it should be easier for you to react efficiently to difficult situations with kids without using any unfair means.