June 06, 2012,
A.M. asks from Chicago, IL on May 07, 2010
How Do We Keep Neighbor Kids Away?
We're friendly with our neighbors. Our backyards are big, but narrow. We have a swingset for our 3 kids and it has 3 swings. We have an understanding with the 2 kids (separate families) and their parents that their children are NOT to play on it if we are not home and outside playing. My daughter is 8 and I have girl/boy twins that are 4. The other kids are a very big 7 yr old boy and a 9 yr old girl. The problem lately is that my 3 kids are playing happily outside with each other and then these 2 come over and essentially kick my kids off their own swing set. We haven't invited them over to play...they just come over whenever they see us out. I'm all for sharing and taking turns and so are my kids. However, these 2 are coming over, taking over the entire play area, and I'm the only parent seeing it. Lately, I've been asking them to leave becasue my 8 yr old's solution is just to come inside even though she wants to play with her brother & sister out there still. She is passive and shy. She's known these 2 for nearly her whole life, but she will not stand up to them. The boy can be bullyish and intimidates her, and now my son is picking up language and general brattiness from him so I do not let my 4 yr olds stay out to play with the "big kids." I feel like the parents of these 2 really rely on my kids to entertain their kids when the weather is good. The boy is an only child, and the girl is 1 of 3, but they're very spread out. My kids aren't enjoying playing outside as much when these 2 come over & take over. I have kept a closer watch lately. The boy's mom asked why I feel the need to sit out and watch them so closely only when her son is over. I told her generally what is going on and she said that she thinks I'm out there to intimidate her son. I think it's ridiculous. She's my friend, but with close neighbors I'm really not sure how to draw the line & still be friendly! Any suggestions?
So What Happened?™
Yes, we are friends. We do things away from the kids on a regular basis. I have several friends whose kids are bratty, spoiled, etc., but they aren't my neighbors :) A fence is not an option, financially. Our backyard is over 350 feet deep. It would be financially impractical and an eyesore. We live on a busy road, but our backyards are a "double block." Instead of a road running through it like it does a block in either direction, our backyards run into a patch of trees that separates us from the other backyards. It's like a giant field out there. I send the kids home every day that they are taking over the swing set. The girl listens and leaves immediately. The boy needs to be told a couple of times to leave, and I always tell his mother why I'm sending him home immediately because he will and does make up stories. Just some extra information. It's frustrating, but I'm not angry over it. Thanks for your suggestions.
T.C. answers from Norfolk on May 07, 2010
We had the same problem. I told the boys to leave my yard. They actually had broken the swingset. I had spent over $400 on it. The next week, someone removed all the bolts from the support for the tent over the playhouse. I "know" it was those boys. It had to be done by someone small enough to fit in the playhouse (or use a ladder) None of those children have come over since. One of the moms even lied and said my sons were mean to her children. Another mom said that I was just being racist. It had nothing to do with race, 3 boys were white, 1 black. It had everything to do with 10 and 12 year old boys kicking my 2 and 4 year old sons off their own swing in their own back yard. I was angry and I feel it is not only my right (my home, my yard, my expensive swingset, ...) but my responsibility to protect my children. One of their children in question pushed my young sons in the pool. They could have drowned! I banned him from my home. Went and personally explained to his guardians why he was banned. This caused some controversy among some moms in our neighborhood. But I am responsible for my children, their saftey is primary. Sure, I don't mind neighbor kids coming over. But I mind when my kids are bullied in their own yard. That is My kids haven, they should feel safe and free to do as they please.
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H.A. answers from Dallas on May 07, 2010
If they are really your friends they will understand if you say you don't want uninvited guests. That's not very "friendly" that the woman accused you of trying to intimidate her child for sitting outside in your own backyard. How insane is she? Has she forgotten, just like her child has, this is your back yard??
I am a cave dweller and I totally hate that some parents think neighbors with kids means instant babysitter.
I would consider putting a fence up as well. Parents like you've described that accuse you of intimidating their child sitting outside - would probably also sue you if their child hurt themselves playing on your swingset. I think you need to establish some boundaries.
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K.B. answers from Houston on May 07, 2010
It doesn't sound like your 8 year old is friends with the 7 or 9 year old and certainly your 4 year olds are too young to be playing with a 7 and 9 year old. I would just explain to your friend that your 8 year old prefers to play quietly outside with her siblings and doesn't think she has anything in common with the other 2. Just because the two of you are friends doesn't mean your kids have to be friends. I think asking her to tell her kids to allow your family to have some private family time once in a while is ok and she can call occasionally to ask if it would ok for her kids to come over before just letting them invite themselves.
I'm very close to my neighbor across the street and once in a while our 3 kids play together but it usually ends in a fight. She has a 9 yo girl, 7 yo boy and 3 yo boy. I have an 8 yo boy, 6 yo girl, and 2 yo boy. Our youngest get along great but the other 4 have problems getting along for longer than a few minutes here and there. We've acknowledged it with each other, we don't blame anyone or anything, it's just that their personalities don't mesh well.
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A.S. answers from Dallas on May 07, 2010
I can't believe she said that she thinks you are only there to intimidate her son? That is a pretty aggressive thing to say to a person who is providing entertainment and safety for him.
Obviously, she is not appreciative and I would tell her next time that you would rather not have her son over unless she is there to also supervise, and tell the girls mother the same thing. Also, let them know that they have to ask first if it is okay to come and play. Really, that is just comon courtesy, but so many people these days don't have that.
Honestly, if their kids broke their leg on your swing set, you can be assured they will come and blame you and have you pay Dr bills.
Don't feel bad about it, just be gentle and respectful in what you say, and if the moms have a problem with that, then they have deeper issues then what you can do or say will fix.
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D.B. answers from Charlotte on May 07, 2010
Wow, A.. I don't know how it is that she is your friend, telling you that you are sitting out there to intimidate her son. That's a strange friendship.
Do your neighbors have anything in their yard to play with? If the neighbor kids are taking over and your own kids can't even play, I'd tell the kids that they have to share and not mince words about it. If your neighbor friend doesn't like it, too bad. And if her son uses words you don't like, tell him that he isn't allowed to talk like that at your house, and send him home. If you are consistent with expectation of rules, he will fall in line because he wants to come into your yard.
I would remove the swing set seats and bring them outside when your kids play. That way the neighbor kids aren't on the swing when you aren't at home.
All my best,
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C.C. answers from Fresno on May 07, 2010
Call me crazy, but build a fence! You know how they say that good fences make good neighbors? It's true! If the neighbor kids can't get into your yard, then it becomes a non-issue. Right?
If building a fence is not an option, then I would tell the other mom that her son needs to come over to the front door and ask you if your kids can come out and play. That way you can decide if it's a good time for them to play together or not.
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S.H. answers from Honolulu on May 07, 2010
Okay this is unacceptable.
I would take photos of it.
I would document this problem.
I would talk to the parents.
I would charge them $ to babysit their kids.
I would tell the kids to leave.
They are bullying your own kids, right on your own property! AND on your own swing sets.
Next, if THEIR kids are hurt on your property/swings, they can fault you.... and be not so nice about it. AND their Mom is bullying you too... when her kids are on YOUR property and how you parent. If they don't like it, they should NOT be on your property and be there.
THUS, tell them that it is YOUR yard...and you have rules and this is how you parent... and these are your kids. Her kids.... are bullies.
I would not allow it... sure maybe she is your friend by default of being your neighbor... but if they are intimidating you this way... and taking over your own yard/property... you have to draw the line. AND I would make certain hours/times, where her kids are NOT allowed in. Period. Do you have a fence?
What does your Husband say about all this???
I would also, put up a sign... NO KIDS without direct parental supervision... NO trespassing etc.
I would be so irked if my neighbors were controlling my own kids/my own swing-sets/yard/property etc.
The nerve! They are bullies.... and remember, if her kids get hurt or complain about your kids while on YOUR property... I am sure they would not hesitate to blame you and/or be litigious.
Next, I am SURE that her kids DO go into your yard and play there and on the swing-set when you are not home.
When she asks you WHY you have to be out there and watch the so closely when her son is over... just TELL her "Your son/kids bully my kids...and push them off of their own swing-set and my kids and you do NOT condone that.... This is MY yard and MY property, I will not have my kids bullied in their own home and yard. If you don't like it, get a swing-set of your own.
Why would you want to be friends with her? She is a bully herself and obviously has completely opposite values/parenting than you.
All the best,
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M.H. answers from Chicago on May 08, 2010
It takes a village! We've had this problem,and I was straight up with those kids. We don't mind you coming over and playing, but I do mind you taking over my daughter's play equipment. If you can't play nicely, I'm going to have to ask you to not come over. and sometimes you have to monitor their play. My youngest runs with a small pack of neighborhood 7 year olds and often runs home because something happened....example...our neighbors have a cat, two other children chased him with a stick, upsetting my 7 year old, who was afraid he would be hurt. I came outside and simply asked, Did you chase the cat with a stick? Did you know he could get scared and run into the street and maybe get hit by a car? How would that make you feel? and they found their own conclusions by being made to think of things they wouldn't normally think of. But once the other kids know your house has rules that must be followed, they usually toe the line. And their parents? Just be as honest with them as you can. I am monitoring their play, because I don't like what is happening with my kids. That their 8 year old boy is intimidating to your youngest daughter and you want to be sure that your kids can play in their own back yard without feeling bad.
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