Parenting your Non-Kids?!

Parenting your non-kids. What do you do? When do you do it? What are the differences? What are you allowed to do?

I've babysat my niece and other children too multiple times and I feel perfectly confident in my abilities to not only look after them but to discipline them too. I think I'm probably quite strict but I also work with the warning system. I put on my mean face and usually the first time I ask nicely, the second I put on my mean face and then they listen because they know I'm serious. If not, the third time is the naughty step or time out.

The problem for me arises when I'm playing with or watching the child while the parents are still there and I've noticed a huge difference in both myself and the child, especially in terms of my niece.

I feel like I can't tell the child off or what not if the parent is there or I'm more lax and then the parent tells them off. I can't help but feel annoyed sometimes because they weren't in the direct contact of the incident but then at the same time, was I not disciplining their child like they would want. Perhaps I'm not as strict as I thought I was...aha.

More recently, I've noticed Bop (my niece) is so well behaved when it's just me and her. She's an angel. She may not listen once or twice to begin with but after that and I've told her off she's perfect. When her dad's in the room she suddenly starts doing things that she never does otherwise. It's so strange to me and I feel like it's my fault.

I feel like I can't or shouldn't tell her off because it's not really my place when other's are then but then I don't want the parents to look down on me like, do something!

When parents are away children seems really receptive, listening to all comments and directions. The second their parents are around they cause chaos and think that the parents are more in control of the situation.

I asked some people for some opinions on the topic and while the responses weren't what I expected, they were interesting to hear:

One lady who's infertile, got very emotional. She's been told, sarcastically, 'the best parents are those without children.' This actually really upset me. I've never personally experienced that issue probably because I don't stand up when the parents are around but I think it's hard when you want something you can never had, not by choice. I've had a lot of experience with children on lots of ages through working in 4 difference nurseries, through different volunteering opportunities at university and of course family members. Some people that have children, have never even held a baby before so that is defintely not always the case.

The vast majority of people seemed to share the opinion that you never tell someone else's child off, with or without the parent being there 'unless they are hurting or damaging someone or themselves' for the reason of 'it's no one's business'. I don't know but I was kind of shocked at that response purely because I think if bad behaviour is occurring it needs addressing then and there rather than hours later when parents arrive.

Obviously, the parent's of the children, I look after, all trust me and my opinions and judgement and so I am sure most of them would be fine with me doing what I want to do (within boundaries i.e. I would never hit another person's child) and I should probably just be more confident in doing it in front of them. Continuing, I also need to be comfortable in the fact everyone has different steps in strictness and if they got told off for something I don't think is bad, I should just brush it off and not take it as an opinion of myself, more of a reflection of them.

What are your opinions? How do you discipline other people's children with and without the parents?