I'm not sure why you thought posting in the homeschool section would be better than asking in parenting, but ok.
My answer is, did your friend ask you for help? Seriously think about that. I'm sure she is fully aware her hands are full. If she is frustrated, well meaning, but unsolicited advice could be like fuel on fire.
If she has come to you and said "I really don't know what to do with my children, help me, then help her by listening to what exactly she wants help with. Does she need some time to herself? Does she need help with homework or scheduling? Does she need skills to effectively work with her children?
But other than that it is not your job to "discipline" someone else's children.
Even if you are more than friends and you both live in the same house, the main authority figure is their mother, as it should be.
For practical suggestions, do some internet research, go to the library or whatever and look for books and articles on parenting skills.
There are tons of materials out there.
Discipline for a five year old will look a lot different than that of a fifteen year old. I would look at "Parenting with Love and Logic" as well as "Parenting a Teen with Love and Logic". Those are my preferences anyway. My first question would be, does she want your help in managing them? Or do you just not like her parenting?
A five year old will need immediate consequences for behavior, and short lived ones as well, since attention span and memory is shorter. A fifteen year old needs more logic and should have a lot of say in consequences. It's hard to start at that age however.
She should take a parenting class or read some parenting books.
There are many methods of discipline, and without knowing the children, the parent, or the family beliefs on this issue makes it impossible to recommend anything. The one thing I can recommend is that when she sets a consequence for something, she needs to carry it through. So if the 15 year old was told to come home at 9:00 or else he/she would be grounded for a week, and comes home at 10:00, he/she needs to actually BE GROUNDED for a week.
Consistency is important no matter what method of discipline you use.
If she cannot control them, then they control her. People have different systems of punishments but my wife and I chose a system that we knew would be productive and we would not have to stress out. We chose:
1. Depriving them of the things they want or need the most. A book, toy, time with friends, video system, whatever. (Food is not included here)
2. Physical Training. We use a program similar to the training of Shaolin Monks. Horse Stance, Floating Defense Stance, Catwalks, Finger tip push ups, knuckle push ups, wrist push ups, side arm push ups, sit ups, running. Our boys, 11 and 13, are incredibly limber and fast now. The last time we used P.T. was 4 years ago. If physical training is wrong then tell that to a drill sergeant, or a P.E. coach. All of the obese people have a tendency to complain about this a lot.
3. Plenty of extra homework or reading. Nothing wrong with expanding their knowledge.
But you have to make it stick. If you feel sorry and give in, they know they have you and you'll lose every time.
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