Your friend might mean the world to you and you could brave anything for her. Maybe except for her annoying little brat. Did we hear a collective sigh in response? Irrespective of how much you love your BFF’s child, it can get tiresome to deal with their constant whining, screaming and pestering. If you often find yourself in such a situation, and are wondering how to tell her that she needs to tame the tyke, here are some pointers that can help you out.

Remember, no child is perfect
First things first. No kid is discipline personified, and it’s almost impossible to spend a few hours in the company of one without feeling like you are in a war zone. “Till the age of eight, children are extremely active and don’t know where to invest their energy. From throwing things to creating a ruckus, they do it all. Unless their parents are stern and tell them to behave, or teach them how to channel their energy, you as a third party can’t really do much. So brave yourself when you have a date with your friend, and her little brat,” smiles Dr Sarthak Kumar, a child psychologist.

Don’t try to discipline them
However close you both might be, but no mother likes to be taught how to parent her child. So, tread carefully on this ground. Roshmita Bhatt, a law student, says, “My friend’s three-year-old son has the habit of throwing everything that he can lay his hands on. Once, he almost shattered my smartphone into pieces. I raised my voice and told him what he did was wrong, but it didn’t go down well with my friend.” Neha Khanna, a family counsellor, says, “Never punish a kid who is not yours. Tell them they need to behave properly or you will have to speak to their parents about them. Even if he/she is your friend’s kid, it’s not your problem if they are going to punish the child or not.” Dr Sarthak adds, “If you don’t want to be the nitpicker who is always complaining, try to defuse the situation. If a child’s acting fussy or throwing a tantrum, divert their attention. For instance, you can suggest a game they can play or ask them to join you for a walk or read a book together.”

Treat kids like an adult
If you are anxious around your friend’s child, you are probably worried that you are not ‘child-friendly’. So, eliminate the problem by treating them like an adult. Sowmya Yadav, an elementary school teacher, says, “Talk to them like how you will talk to any other person your age. Don’t be sugary sweet or use kiddie word. Just try starting a conversation with them and you may not find the kid a terror.”

Find out their interests

If you want to have some peace when you are meeting your friend, one of the best ways to do it is to find out what interests her kids. Shobha Chaudhary, a software professional, says, “The best way to have some peace while having a heart-to-heart with your friend is to keep the kids occupied. When I go over to my bestie’s place, I take along a couple of board games. Her eight-year-old son is quite restless and would interrupt our conversation quite often. So, I decided to keep him busy with games. Sometimes, I also play educational videos and cartoons for him.”

Protective parent?
Many parents take it personally when you criticise their child. So, watch your tone when you address issues related to them. Prerna Singha, a civil engineer, adds, “My best friend’s daughter loved sharing her goodies with me. The only problem was that she would either pick them up from the floor or her mouth. When I brought up the issue with my friend, she laughed it off, saying how cute her daughter was. I really didn’t know how to tackle the issue. So, I decided to be the evil godmother and gave her a chocolate that I’d bit into. My friend really got upset, and we haven’t spoken for the last three months!” Neha says, “Many parents get quite defensive when it comes to their parenting style. Some believe that disciplining kids at a young age can hamper their confidence. So, they ignore the tantrums they throw at a fancy restaurant or a movie theatre, even if it can get uncomfortable for others.” Dr Sarthak says, “Never get judgmental because all parents are defensive when it comes to anyone criticising their little one. Choose your words carefully and never single out their child while referring to any situation. For instance, if her child uses ‘bad words’ or has the habit of beating you, gently tell your friend about a distant cousin of yours who indulged in the same habits and how you got him to rectify his behaviour. Anecdotes work best in such scenarios because you subtly get your point across without running the risk of hurting your friend.”

When you play the host…
“If you are hosting your friend and her child at your home, it’s better to tell the little one the house rules in a friendly tone,” advises Neha, “Give them a chocolate or cookies to munch on and gently tell them that they can’t throw things around, scribble on walls, jump on couches and have a food fight with other guests. Keep your friend around when you have this chat. It’s always better to brief the child before than to crib later.”


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