14 answers

My Friend's Child Is a Brat!

One of my good friends has a little girl that is five years old. This little girl is not very well behaved. I really enjoy spending time with my friend, but her child is whinney, bad-mannered, and I'm afraid may be a bad influence on my four year old.

Here is an example of some of the bad behavior that I'm talking about: At her birthday party, as she opened her presents she literally threw the toys that she didn't care for under the table. Needless to say, she did not thank anyone. When they come over, she leaves candy wrappers and lollipop sticks all over the place. She spills juice, water, soda, etc. on the floors and tables and does not tell anyone. She takes out all the toys and plays with each one for about five seconds and does not put the toys away. When her child sees me, she asks me what I brought for her. One time she cried because I didn't bring her anything, and her father said "Oh that's okay, she'll bring you something next time". Considering how spoiled she is, she does not seem happy.

I'm I being too judgemental? What should I do? I don't want my boy to take my friend's child lead with this bad behavior.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for their advice. It was all helpful. I am following a bit of everyone's advice. Trying to plan more activities outside the home, and incorporating the house rules approach. So far it is working pretty good, only a few glitches but I believe using guidelines will help in the short and long term.

More Answers

Dear D.,

I have to say that the previous ladies have had a lot of great advice. I don't think you are being to judgemental. Here are somethings that I did to a friend of mine that didn't discipline their child even though the child was two it might help you.

My friend would could come over and the child would act up. Hit and bully my kids. The mom would never make him pick up his toys when it was time to go. He would take toys away. Then when it was time to leave he would throw a fit and sometimes it took two hours for her to get him ready to leave. It was worse if we went to their house.

I love my friend of 15 years. We tried to talk about the difference in parenting. She thought I was to tough and I thought she was to easy. So I informed her that when they were at mom house they had to follow my rules. She told me she didn't feel comfortable taking charge in my house. So I spoke up when he did something wrong. And if we were at her house and he did something that I didn't like I would tell my kids it was time to leave. Her child would stand if front of the door crying and telling me not to leave. I would just explain that we would come back another day when he was feeling in a better mood.

I honestly didn't know if this was going to work, but I didn't want to lose our friendship. I will admit at first I din't think I could handle being her friend anymore. When I first started standing up for what I believe in he rebeled. I stuck with what I had started. Now the funny thing is he begs to come here and he still fights to leave. But I always hug him tell him I love him and he can come back again.

As for getting her to pick up after herself, you may have to take her by the hand and have her do it. Eventually she will do it on her own if she knows you mean business. Most kids won't want to do what they don't have to. But please remember to praise her when she does it even if you have to hold her hand while doing it. As for the gift that she always wants give her a hug and tell her you love her. If she gets mad with that gift tell her love is the best gift in the world.
Another suggetion that might teach her to be a little more greatful about the gifts she gives, Ask your friend and her child to do something and your child together for some one less fortunate. I had my 3 & 2years old kids pick out food for the food pantry and explained why we were buying it. I also told them that every time they did something nice for someone else I would give them money for that week only, then we went and put in the bucket with the people ringing the bells.

I do want to tell you that my friend will now say something to her child when they come over. Sometimes she will ask me to say something to her child while at her house. I have to admit that I am glad that I stood up for what I believe in.

I think you have to make a decision before you can decide how to handle this situation. First is do you want to keep your friendship. Second is if you want to take charge. I know you have a long road in front of you, but maybe if you can show your friend and her daughter that you love them it might be easier. Good Luck!

5 moms found this helpful

You definitely are not being judgemental. My son is 4 and has ADD and, if allowed, would act the exact same way. I always, always make him pick up at other people's houses whether he wants to or not. Even Gramma's when she says its okay, she will do it when we leave.

He can tend to get mouthy and sassy with me and would be that way all the time if I let him. I have a tendency to choose my battles for the worst offenses. We were at a friend's house for Thanksgiving and my girlfriend (who is the mother of a 3-year-old) reprimanded him for being sassy with me when I didn't say anything. I have to say I was absolutely shocked and surprised that she said something to him. However, at the same moment I was very appreciative. She surprised him into being sweet too. My son is much better behaved when I crack down on him for being sassy with time outs and stern warnings.

I would start small with the little girl with little reprimands and see how the mother reacts. If she seems offended, talk to her and explain that you love hanging out with her, but you need the little girl to follow the same rules in your house that your son has too. It's your house and it's your right to expect good behavior and manners from your guests AND their children.


2 moms found this helpful

This sounds like a nightmare. I think you should decide whether 1.) you want to continue this friendship--parents and kids--or 2.) whether you want to spend a LOT of energy reminding mother/daughter that you will not tolerate they way they do many things. Be prepared for it to "hit the fan" if you choose option two. I really don't see much opportunity for this friendship to further develop, since your approaches vary so greatly. And, yes. This girl is extremely rude and her parents are very overindulgent. Decide what is best for you and your family. You will feel better in time.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi D.,
I have a few suggestions. When they come over, tell the little girl in front of her mother that you have installed a new rule in your house...tell her that only the toys being played with can be out. When she is done she needs to put one away before getting a new one. This will take some work on your part for a while because you will have to monitor them a few times but I think she may get it. Do the same with food and drinks, tell her that your son is only allowed to eat/drink in the kitchen so she needs to do the same.
As for bringing her something everytime you visit, you may just want to explain that gifts are special and if you bring her something every time you visit it would not be special, and leave it at that.
In any instance, I can usually use my own daughter as an excuse/example for bad behavior in other kids. (not that my daughter is perfect). I usually say "Jillian's not allowed to do that, or Jillian has to put all her toys away after playing with them, if you helped to play with them then you should help to put them away". It takes the sting away from the parent and they don't think I'm picking on their child.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Wow D., I would die if my kids acted like this and I would definitely correct that and they would be in big trouble. My kids are very polite, thank goodness. I just cant believe the parents do not correct her. Especially when she asks you what you brought for her, and the dad saying you will bring somethign next time when she got really upset? Wow is all I can say. That is something else.

S. Bailey CLD

1 mom found this helpful

I think many children act the way they are allowed to act. This is of course not always true. But if mom does not teach and show manners the little one won't have any, if the mom does not teach and show gratitude the little one won't have to either, etc etc. Children have to be taught and shown how to act, they aren't born with these skills. You are not being too judgemental but remember it isn't totally the little girls fault. The little girl is probably unhappy because there are no boundaries. Children need and thrive off of expectations and guidlines. Since you still want to spend time with your friend just praise your child when he does what the little girl doesn't often do. If your son throws his trash away say, "thank you for throwing your trash away. It so nice to keep our living room clean." Or something to that effect. Kids LOVE praise and the little girl AND mom may pick up on this!!! GOOD LUCK!!! I can't imagine how frusturating and annoying that has to be!!

I also totally agree with the other writer about families that have issues with children that others may not know about. But in this case it sounds like a parenting issue and not a child issue. I agree with the house rules thing too!!!! Good thought.

1 mom found this helpful

Having a child like this is almost always a combination of factors, first of all, when a daughter is frustrated, they often act is out quite differently than boys, so this may be a reason not to worry that your son will be influenced to a great degree. The child is acting this way to show that she has the right to disagree with what is not in her expectations. Everybody talks about respect, but sometimes we fail to realize that talking and demanding it are not enough...it has to be felt and experienced, and it should be obvious that respect applies to all situations and all people. Without overburdening everyone in the process, the answer starts with the parents and people in her life knowing what ways she has become disappointed on deeper and also more temporary issues. Spoiled is another way of saying the child has been pacified, not taught to appreciate the life she has, but we all do it, it doesn't make her more evil, although it would be easy to believe that. Have a talk with her mom, if you believe she is able to understand you are being sincere, but the best way is to set an example and try to find ways to show her that being happy isn't always predictable, and showing respect will be her fastest route to a good time. One Christian child discipline specialist at the Hearts At Home Conferences illustrated this principle with a colored chain, showing kids that respect and fun are linked, if the respect link gets tugged or brought down, the fun link goes down with it; they are related. Check out Hearts at Home website and plan a trip with her mom!! Cool way to build relationships that last.

1 mom found this helpful

This child is not normal it may be normal behavior as a child tries to test their parent, but it sounds like there is no discipline(?) Not to knock your friends parenting styles but it is normal for a child to be like I don't like that and throw the toy they got but me as a parent would nip that behavior right there. I also think she should be picking up toys by now my daughter is almost 3 and I think I am about ready to start her on it. So my advice would be to talk to your friend if she is a good friend hopefully she will understand cause you definetely don't want your child acting like that. The only thing is though if you are persistant your child won't and if she hears you telling your kid not to do one of the behaviors she allows hers to get away with maybe she will be like oh maybe I shouldn't either. Sorry if that is confusing. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Well...kind of...on the child's part. Her behavior is a reflection of her upbringing/parenting. She acts this way because she is allowed to. That being said, she is your friend's daughter, so that could bring up some obvious delicate issues. One, how often do you see them? Because honestly, if it's not all that often, say once or twice a month, I would not say anything, nor would I worry about your child picking up her bad habbits...obviously you are very consistent with your boy, so I doubt the interaction would affect him. I knwo my son is in daycare full time with some real brats, and he really has not picked up on their habbits, and if he tries it, it is corrected...immediately. I would however use actions to speak louder than words. For instance, if she throws her garbage on the floor, you could say to your son "please show so and so where the trash is?" If she asks what you bought her, you could try "well what did you buy me?" It will catch her off guard, and if she says "nothing" you could say something like "funny I got you same thing." If you interact with them more frequently you could try having a heart to heart...or you could say something like "boy, my son has really been acting up lately(even if he hasn't) do you know he threw his trash on the floor at a restaurant the other day, I know he knows better, but lately he's really been testing...what do you think I should do? She'll get the hint. I personally go with the my house, my rules...if my friends children pull out all of my kids toys, I give them an opportunity to say something like help A.'s son p/u his toys, if they don't then i justsay "okay kiddos, it's clean up time." And you know what, I don't give a rat's a#$ what they think, because honestly what kind of friend let's their kid act that way in someone else's home when they are five years old. At the very lieast she could offer to help you clean it up. If all else fails, or you don't want to bother with all that drama, it might be time to start a "girls night out...no kids allowed." Good luck, I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear D.,

I have to admit that after reading your situation I immediately related it to a family we were once very close with. Their oldest was a few years older than my oldest and always acted like he owned the place, if he was at home or at my home. I didn't appreciate it. On occaision I would tell him that his behavior was inappropriate at my house, only to find the other parents yelling at my child for something very unoffensive. It got to the point where my husband and I just couldn't handle the behaviors and eased away from that family. More recently we invited the family to a birthday party and immediately I knew we had made the right decision distancing from them. Their youngest learned the same exact behaviors from their oldest sibling and the family is in a real long haul with him.

I think the hardest thing for us was that we always had such a good time when we went out with them as couples but could not tolerate their parenting style. Sometimes, though, you have to cut your losses and decide what is best for the whole family.


Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I'm not sure if this will have anything in common with your situation, but a good friend of mine has had a few problems with another mom's kids (no respect for my friends house, roughhousing, etc)When my friend did mention something to the other mom, her reply was that if the kids are doing something that she doesn't want them to do, she (my friend) needs to tell them because it is her house. So the other mom just basically did nothing, and my friend had to discipline the kids while they were over. Needless to say, those kids are no longer invited over to my friends house. But for you, since it is your house, and the mom isn't speaking up, maybe you should...?? Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

You described the little girl's behavior, but not how your friend deals with it (or if she does). I think a lot depends on that. I know my kids are perfectly aware if another kid is "bad" and they know they aren't supposed to do that. But if the mother is modeling a parent who doesn't care about bad behavior at all, which it sounds like it might be, that is another thing.

I definitely think that although kids spill and make mistakes, when she does that at your house you have the right to respond, either by gently but firmly asking her to pick up or by telling her she can't have treats/drinks at your house until she is able to have them without making a mess. It's OK for you to have "house rules" that you enforce when they visit your house. Maybe, if this friendship is meaningful to you, you can model firm-but-kind with the little girl and maybe her parents will take the hint.

But I'd also keep an open mind - sometimes "difficult" kids have issues that aren't obvious to outsiders and the families are doing the best they can to cope without having every day be constant conflict. And your child may be especially easy. I find it very, very common for almost all of our playdates (my kids are 3 and 6) to not pick up toys they take out. In fact, they never do unless I stand there and make them do it.

1 mom found this helpful

Life's too short to put up with this ... it doesn't sound like you're super close to the parents, or you'd be able to somehow, gently have a conversation about it directly. A great segueway would be to jump in when the mom looks exasperated with the daughter's behavior, "wow, you look exhausted ... parenting's hard isn't it?" and see where the conversation goes. Let her say how difficult her child is, so you don't have to.

If you're not close enough to have this conversation, then you are perfectly OK to walk away. Run, don't walk ... find better friends for your child. If your values are that out of sync with her parents' you'll find lots more conflict down the road anyway. Imagine at 16 ... "Mom, Suzy's mom lets her stay out all night ... why can't I??" It's very hard to hold the line when your kids are surrounded by friends w/o boundaries at home.

So have the conversation or sever ties with the child. Afterall, you and mom can still hang out sans kids; though you'll find as you age you have less patience and respect for parents like this. Lack of boundaries shows a parent has little respect for the child (long-run) and little self-respect (short-run) and the kids mirror that with bad behavior.


Sounds like your friend's daughter is a product of bad parenting. And it sounds like her behavior is ok with them.

I have been in that situation. I lead by example, and not even mention the other child's bad behavior to his/her parents. I make it very clear that my child has to behave appropriately and that is very important to me. The other parents will get the hint. p.s. when the kids are together, don't leave them alone so that you can get right on top of a situation as soon as it occurs.

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