May 05, 2008,
N.O. asks from Canton, MI on April 23, 2008
Problem with the Neighbor Kids
There are so many children on my street but there is 1 in particular who is just so rotten to my son (my son is 3 1/2 and this boy is 4). The parents of this boy (he also has a 7 yr old brother) buy these boys just about every toy that comes out and they have every ride on toy god created. All the neighborhood kids flock to this house because they have more than enough toys to satisfy the needs of all of the kids. However, this little boy is pretty mean to my son. telling him that no one wants to play with him, he cant touch his things and has even gotten physical by pushing him down. My son just stands up and tells him to stop pushing him (i was so proud of that)i've even told him to keep his hands off my son, but all the same my son continues to want to play with these kids over at their front yard. There is another little boy who my sons loves, however that child and the one that is mean to my son are cousins, so whereve one is, the other is. I dont want to deprive my son of neighborhood buddies, but I feel if I alienate him from these kids, he'll be alienated to all of them. To top things off, his parents do and say nothing to dicipline. They dont encourage them to share..nothing. I cant make them share, but it is making my day increasingly difficult. I just thank goodness my son doesn't seem to understand things yet. but sooner or later he will, and i dont want this to affect his confidence when he hears that noone wants to play with him.
So What Happened?™
ok let me just clarify, that i am NOT letting my son over there without having him be supervised by myself or his father or both. i do not dump my kids on these parents. In fact all the neighbor parents are outside keeping and eye on their kids. I am always there to see what is happening. The problem is what i am seeing while i am there observing. the parents dont nesessarily invite us over, but all the adults are there socializing while the children play. our homes are very close together so its' not far from my front yard to theirs. he's always in my view. I dont expect anyone to babysit my son, sometimes the children are at my house with my sons toys and he shares mostly everything. it's just a matter of time before they all leave my yard again and head to theirs. I feel for the parents. I often wonder if they get annoyed with all the kids at their house which is why i limit myself as much as I possibly can. and when i am there i dont stay for very long. i understand these kids dont have to share their things with anyone, but you know what?? neither do i, but i teach my son some empathy and sharing skills to make play time a much more enjoyable experience for everyone. he does have friends that come over, play dates. he is not in pre school yet until the fall so that'll be different when he gets some buddies. But as we all know he cant have a playdate every day of the week so in the meantime he wants to see the kids he see's every day and that's were the problem lies.
J.M. answers from Lansing on April 24, 2008
The problem I see here is that 3 and 4 years old are playing unsupervised. If your child is in my yard, does that make him my responsibility? You have one son and it's your responsibility to watch him. If you don't like what is going on at the neighbors, keep him home. If he was 10 it would be different, but you are asking a lot from a neighbor if they have that many children at their house, with their toys, with the rest of the parents at their own home and then complaining because the children aren't well behaved. Where are the parents???
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J.P. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Because I am in your "neighbor's shoes" let me tell you about what she's thinking: her kids want to play with their toys in their yard. But everytime they go outside to play with their toys in their yard everyone else comes over to play and they kids are made to share. Even though all the neighborhood kids weren't invited, and aren't always wanted. We have toys broken and stolen on a regular basis. We have kids in our yard all the time totally unsupervied. Parents send them over here because I am outisde watching my kids and they assume I'll watch theirs too. Then I am responsible to watch their kids and make sure they're safe and not getting hurt. Meanwhile, I can't do anything I wanted to do because I'm babysitting all the neighborhood kids who come in and take over and don't let my kids play with their own toys.
You didn't say if you were invited over their or not, but I'd consider how the other parents feel. I have stopped yelling at my kids for the way they behave in their own yard to other people who just show up and ecpect my kids to be hosts of the year. If you don't like the way the other boys acts, don't go over there. I know my kids get really upset when other kids come over now because their things are always getting broken and stolen and taken away from them. I think it's grat when there are a lot of kids to play with in the neighborhood, but ganging up in these people's yard all the time like it's the park isn't fair to them. Nobody has extra home owners insurance to cover kids getting hurt on their toys. People's private property is just that... private property. Maybe you could invite some of the kids in the neighborhood to your house to play but not invitet his mean kid.
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T.K. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Okay, I have 6 kids and a LOT of other kids in my neighborhood some ok some really rough/rude with parents who don't supervise them enough and are always just kicking them outside to "play" until they have to check in (usually a LONG time later so the parents can have time to themselves). I have been on both sides of this issue. (And my oldest is only 9 - so this is still a "current" issue for me).
First of all, I *never* let my 3/4 year olds out of the yard. Unless, they are invited over specifically by a parent whom I trust and who I know will be watching them the whole time. And whom I know will bring them back to me or hang on to them until I come to get them. No one is allowed to even cross the street until they are 5 (barring a walk with parents, etc)- even directly across to play with friends.
Second, I realize this is tough behavior for your son to take in stride, especially since he is an only child and only used to being around people who all like and value him and have their "grown up" problem solving skills already. However your son is a toddler, and he will meet all types. You can't change people, and at this age - kids are super nice and super mean with barely a hair's breadth inbetween. It's really pretty normal. I think it's unfair to label this kid a "bad" kid or a "bully" when he's obviously got a lot on his plate to manage as far as personal relationships with people go. Overstimulation aside, this poor kid has to watch others playing with his stuff all day. Imagine if you had to share literally everything you owned with everyone all the time. (I realize that as a parent you share most of it, but I'm talking about your personal, private things being shared with anyone and everyone who showed up uninvited and unsupervised) He's just a kid like any other kid. At first, I reacted to some of the kids in our neighborhood like they were bullies because they were rougher than a lot of the other kids we had run into. BUT, at some point I realized that wasn't fair to them - they are just kids. When they are in my yard, I try to remember that no matter how bad they are acting they are just kids - and I tell them when they are breaking the rules of my yard nicely. If they don't stop - I send them home for awhile. I also make an extra effort to say something nice to them the next time I see them after that. Just as a reminder that it's their behavior alone I have a problem with. This has seemed to earn myself, my kids, and their things some respect.
However, occasionally my kids will go play with the bullies and then come home whining about the rough play. My feeling is that if you know the kids are playing a rough game, and you don't want to play rough, be smart enough not to play. That's just good decision making. They are either willing to put up with the rough play and try to use their people skills to make the situation better, or they're not. Of course the kids in question here are older than 4, but the same principle.
All you can really do is remind you kid how to act, maybe help him have some compassion for the bully kid (you'd be surprised what being compassionate - while not allowing yourself to be a victim - to a bully can do for a situation), give him the tools to stand up for himself, and call/talk to his mom. See how she feels about having all those kids in her yard. Ask if there are times that are better for your son to play, or if she minds the little ones being there at all... OR, see if her child wants to come to your house to play one on one (sounds wierd I know, but some kids this age are TOTALLY different and MUCH better when they are playing one on one) to help him and your son kindly resolve thier differences and build a friendship where you can supervise their sharing and interaction. Ask the cousin's parents directly if he can come over and play some time so the boys can hang out. You have options, and I don't think teaching your son this kid is "bad" is necessarily the best one. Of course, teaching him that he may want to tell this kid that he doesn't want to play with him if he's not using his manners is totally acceptable. Just explain to your son that it takes some children longer than others to learn good people skills, and only children typically learn them fastest because they have exclusive contact with the best role-models - their parents. I'm sure this kid will turn around eventually and you may find that after you explore the situation with his mom, that a balance is struck all on it's own.
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A.F. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
If your son really wants to keep going back there to play it probably means he can handle the bully just fine on his own. I think kids let us know when they don't feel comfortable in a situation, so if it doesn't bother him, you might just want to let it go.
In my opinion, boys at 3 1/2 and 4 years of ages should have a parent observing their play. (They are not old enough to play completely 'alone' yet.) If the other parents are there and they say nothing and you truly feel the child is being mean and not just territorial, maybe take a few weeks and don't go by there. Maybe they just need a break from each other.
K.V. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
N. - You really owe it to your son to keep him out of harms way. The writing is on the wall with this little bully. I would encourage your little boy to play with someone else. Contact other mom's and invite them over to your house for coffee and conversation and playdates with your son. It's a good way to connect with moms. It is up to you at this tender young age to decide whom he plays with so that play will be joyful. They are kids for such a short time. Your child should in no way have to stand up for himself at such a tender age. He does not have the skills to do so effectively. Protect him. :-)
A.G. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Age 3 & 4 are not too far from the biting, hitting stages of being 2. They are still learning to share & to use thier words instead of thier hands. It may not be as personal as you may be taking it. Children have a hard time learining to share. Some more than others. Telling the kids to keep thier hands off & talking about all the toys they have etc... I can sense the frustration. Try talking to the parents. Maybe hang out while they are playing together. Then you can talk to the mom & see how they interact. My son will be 4 in July. We had friends meet us at the park. We stopped at the store on the way to pick up snacks & a ball to play with at the park...he took it back to the car when we got there because he didn't want to share it. He still wanted to play with the kids, but for some reason it was a new toy & didn't want to share it. Ask what favorite toys they have & which ones do they want to share. It's hard to see your kids not "fit in", but at this age it can change every couple minutes! LOL! Good luck!
R.H. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Wow. That is quite the situation. First I would talk to your son and tell him that it is ok to stand up for himself and to speak up if someone is treating him inappropriately.
Next, I would try to have a conversation with the parents. Calmly tell them you think their son is intentionally being mean and would like some support from then to try and keep the kids all playing well together.
S.L. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
To have better days you must take control of this situation.
Children will go where ever there are toys, children and fun!
So, if your son is being mistreated at someones house have him play at his own house.
You don't have to spend a lot of money on toys. Our three year old son and plenty of children in the neighborhood have fun playing with $ store boats in a $ store plastic tub, water guns, and water balloons. (Just to name a few inexpensive items that go over big time with little boy children.)
Pick a day when you have the time to go outside and play with your son. Take toys of your choice outside and have fun!
If the children are at your house you have more control over how things go. Children with bad attitudes or bad manners GO HOME.
Much success to you!
A.H. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
I completely agree with Kari's answer. These kids need supervision! The parents at the other house need to be out there, monitoring things.
If they cannot do this, try having a few kids at your place- but not too many as things can get pretty crazy! ;)
Playdates with good friends w/ kids his age are great.
I never, ever let my son play in the front yard unsupervised. It makes me so very nervous with the weirdo's out there. The street is there (altho he knows he should not go out in it, you never know! and the cars do not obey the speed limit!).
I would never allow my son to hit anyone or anything that is not a pillow or a punching bag. It only teaches humiliation and disrespect in my mind. This is why we do not hit in our home, either.
Good luck! ;)
N.W. answers from Detroit on April 28, 2008
Yikes! I just wanted to say, I totally understand your question/point. A lot of those responses were unncessarily harsh. We live on the inside of a circle and no fences are allowed. So down the middle is a huge backyard. My son is 4 and we just moved here at the end of the summer. He loves to play with the two little girls behind us who are 3 and 5. They are nice girls, but the 5 year old mostly watches the 3 year old and can be a little bossy. I rarely see the parents. I feel so bad when my son, who loves to play with them goes out and literally just sits there waiting for them. I think you should just do what feels right-- if that ends up being just watching the other kids or preventing him from playing (which is hard if everyone else it out there). I don't really have any advice, except I know how hard it is!
C.B. answers from Grand Rapids on April 24, 2008
N., I've been in the same situation - my son is now 17, but I remember the pain of watching as this unfolded. It's hurtful to watch as your child is excluded.
I did a couple of things - first, I talked to the parents. (That was purely a gut reaction; I was so angry I couldn't NOT talk to them. In hindsight, I might have waited to cool down, but they were gracious and spoke to their child.)
Second, I looked for alternatives to playing with that group of children. I set up play dates with preschool friends, children of my friends, cousins, etc. This didn't really solve the bully problem, but it was good for my son to play with kids who weren't part of the 'problem,' but just there to play with my son. Good for him to have some interaction that wasn't filled with hostility or the threat of hostility.
Eventually, as the kids got older the problem resolved - I'd say within two years. I just kept setting up those play dates until things resolved - which seemed to happen naturally as the kids moved past the whole exclusion issue.
Best of luck to you!
C.B. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
First of all I think that at 3.5 and 4 years old, it's pretty typical stuff. I am NOT saying it's GOOD behavior. But very typical and to play devil's advocate, some kids at that age just don't 'compute' what the spoken word is. Explaining even at their level doesn't sink in. So the parents MAY have already given up. Not a good thing. Could be they're compensating their poor disciplinary skills with every imaginable toy. Whatever keeps their poopsey smiling.
I went through this too. Snotty kids. Once in a while the kids would have an 'off' day and play with my boys. It was especially my oldest that was affected. The other two had made friends elsewhere.
Is pre-school possible? Because it is a social setting, kids learn to share, make friends, play, etc. Try that. If your son is absent from the usual band of neighbor kids for a while, maybe they'll eventually come knocking. The old "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" possibility.
Just FYI it doesn't necessarily get better when they start kindergarten. Some kids are just mean. No matter what. You just make sure you teach right from wrong and everything you want instilled. We can only do our best as parents and we're still not perfect. But again, pre-school, children's groups at a church, extra cirricular programs classes through the school or rec center. Check them out. The exclusion hurts, yes; no argument. But there are alternatives. Find an activity your son likes and flourishes in and go for it. I did that with taekwondo. My boys all excelled in it. Still do enjoy it too.
K.T. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Good answers all around, EXCEPT I can't agree with the poster who says hitting back is acceptable. In organized sports, it's always the retaliator who gets punished and looks to be the wrongdoer. My philosophy is to get back up and tell that person they've hurt me, but not retaliate. If they get a "so what?" attitude in return, your son should leave.
I am dealing with this very issue this week with my son who first was chasing a boy as a game and the boy punched and gave my son a bloody nose instead of saying he didn't want to play that game anymore. Next day, my son was pushed by another kid and hit back. Both sides of the issue, HITTING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
I too think that 3 1/2 is too young for unsupervised play and foisting kids upon one mother in the neighborhood is a bit rude. IF your child is invited AND approved to be there by the boys' mother, let him go. Otherwise, have him play in his own yard.
Explain to your son the importance of respecting others and other's possessions. Instill the value system that when at another's house, you're on their turf, but also explain that some people don't have the same value system and you just have to cope with that.
D.F. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Don't let him play with bullies, if they say they don't want to play with him, keep him home. Let your boy play in his own yard and buy him his own fun ride on toy. There is no way I would allow my kids to go to play somewhere that they are going to get hit or pushed down. What if the kid decides to pick something up to hit him with. Have him invite a nice kid from preschool over, etc. Maybe in time the other kids will want to play with him.
L.C. answers from Saginaw on April 24, 2008
I recommend a piece of advice I heard years ago at La Leche League, just because it stops all kinds of problems before they start: remember that your children are YOUR children, and you are responsible for their well-being and happiness, so please feel free to move around to take care of their needs.
You clearly cannot rationally hope that the parents of the 4yo are going to take care of your son's needs, any more than it would be rational for you to discipline that child in his yard. It is reasonable, though, for you to stay on hand, scoop your little guy out of harm's way, and take him home immediately that anything negative is happening that you don't want him around.
You're right, no one can make anyone share. Being willing to have people in the yard isn't the same as giving them license to do whatever they choose with all of the stuff there.
One other thing: one child saying he doesn't want to play right now is not a global 'no one wants to play with you' message. And, whatever he doesn't understand, your son certainly 'gets' the tone of the message.
I always deal with the victim, for two reasons: often bad behaviour is a bid for attention, which is an excellent reason not to reinforce the behaviour by handing it out, and the victim is the one with the most pressing current need -- he needs to know that he is loved and loveable and that you haven't abandoned him to 'whatever' happens around him. He will know that by you being right there, contextualizing whatever's just happened and re-framing it in ways that make it clear that everyone's behaviour is more about them than you.
I never give other people's parents unsolicited criticism or advice. I may parent their children right in front of them, if it seems absolutely necessary (catching them when they're falling off something, say), but 95% of the time I stick with my kids, exclusively. And, I happen to think it's fun to say 'that was a really mean thing of that kid to say to you, wasn't it? I wonder why he'd say something so mean?' right in front of his parents. That's the kind of smug fun I enjoyed throughtout the time my kids were playing in playgrounds and playgroups...
B.B. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
I Agree with reassuring your son that no matter what he can stand up for himself. No repercussions from you IF actions are instigated BY THE OTHER CHILD. And if you boy ends up hitting the other one and the other parents complain? Tell them that your son was just defending himself.
Does this kid have issues with any other kids in the neighborhood? Or is it just a personality conflict with yours?
Look at it as if they were dogs. (I know that sounds weird but let me explain) In a pack of dogs you have the "alpha" male and then all the others. It may be a training thing or just a personality thing. But the other boy is trying to excert his dominance. HIS yard, HIS toys being used to having the say and able to tell everyone else WHAT to do and WHERE to do it... Now along comes this other "dog" that the other ones actually like. So "Alpha" needs to put him in his place and reestablish dominance.
Your son already did a majorly good thing and didn't back down. But (and I know most won't agree) he should have pushed back. Bullies at this age don't get the message of words. Its ususally got to be more physical. My husband read a book called "wild at heart" I read it also and it has a lot of great stuff in there about raising boys. Their inner nature... Please don't try to stuff your little guy into a box that is socially acceptable. Teach him that if HE is attacked to defend him self. To stand up and do right back EXACTLY what the other person did to him and THEN walk away. (Think of John Wayne)
Childhood friend ships come and go with the wind.. One day mortal enemies, the next best of buds. I bet if you set up some non expensive toys in your yard (soccer, basket ball, a sand box, swing rope, little fort house what ever)you would slowly have a trickle of kids in YOUR yard. They are attracted to the newest gizmo just as grown men are, but always return to the basics of play. :-)
C.N. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
Oh how I remember those kids! (My daughter is now 23) and usually the parents don't help. I would suggest you find a couple of friends that your son gets along with well and start having them over to your home with "special" activities. I would definately separate your son (if at all possible) from the bully. This is where parenting becomes difficult and unforturnately it continues on some level throughout their childhood. The best we can do is keep great communication skills with our children so they talk to us and we can keep them strong. Best of Luck. C.
M.Z. answers from Grand Rapids on May 05, 2008
Have you thought of just inviting the little boy over that is "mean" to have some one on one play time with David? He may get to know him more and you will have better control of the situation. My daughter is 5 1/2 and we are very strict with who in the neighborhood she can play with for a little different reason. We have the fun toys (pool and trampline) and all the kids want to play at our house and especially some of the older ones will exclude my daughter from the festivities. when this happens I will talk with the kids, including my daughter explining that if everyone can not be nice and get along then they will have to go home. This encourages her to be more of a "team" player and makes some of the other children include everyone.
Hope this helps...Good Luck!
T.W. answers from Lansing on April 24, 2008
I would NOT let my child over at his house. A 3 year old is WAY too young for this!! You should have supervised visits at your home with approved friends.
D.K. answers from Kalamazoo on April 24, 2008
Hi, I'll admit that my first reaction, the protective side of my brain, was not my best. There are huge life lessons to be learned here and not one of us gets out of it unscathed.(High School, anyone?)I am assuming that David is not at the neighbors" house unsupervised so that your son isn't at serious risk. It appears that David is handling himself quite well. This other boy is craving attention because clearly his parents' are trying to buy his love and not investing quality time. He prefers negative attention rather than no attention so try to engage with him as though he was a "good" kid.(I know it will be hard)You can also try activities with your son and this boy away from his terf. Take just the two of them to the Zoo, library, playground, etc. and you may be surprised how nice he can be away from his bling and fan club.You already know that pulling David from the group would be a mistake. He will resent YOU, not the bully. Our instinct to protect is so strong but babies are born with unfurled wings for a reason. Good Luck. Denise. (Been there and did NOT do as I just advised and it was a mistake. My kids are now 35 and 32!)
L.H. answers from Detroit on April 24, 2008
I had the same problem with kids in our neighborhood when my son was the same age as yours...your right , at that age they really don't realize what is happening and that that's NOT how friends should act. And he still wanted to play. Our neighbor boys would play hide and seek with him and just leave him hiding and go away.. it broke my heart but at least I was there watching. Once the kid his age even stabbed a LIT SPARKLER at my sons eyes that I barely managed to slap away.
HIS mother actually LAUGHED. I swear there should be a test you have to pass to be a parent.
My only reccomendation is to start by talking to the bullies parents and couch it in the nicest way you can.
Ug. I know it is so akward to try to ask someone to talk to thier child about sharing and kindness even if they don't like someone... generally , in my world , that is a basic you teach your child.
Maybe that bully doesnt like your son because your son likes his cousin? And that's 'his property' too? Hmmm.
I would like to wish you luck. The mother of our problem bully thought her kid was acting JUST FINE and that's how 'boys are'. She just let them run wild. We ended up moving in another year, but that's no solution for most.
I just had to make sure I was around when they played at all times. Which , my son being only four, was par for the course anyway but that's not the point.
We also found other kids he knew in pre-school to come over and play.. we enrolled him in Karate which he still loves to this day at almost 12 years old. It has helped build his confidence as nothing else has. It re-enforced what we taught him about using his words to get out of a bad situation and to not start fights, but to defend himself if attacked and he can't get away.
He hasn't had a bully problem since, bullies are really cowards inside who are unhappy with themselves for whatever reasons. If they know you'll stand up for yourself they generally leave you alone.
Sorry, went off subject there!
Lisa....... mother of two lights of my life.
T.B. answers from Detroit on April 25, 2008
Dear N., I am very new at this answering stuff but i think that maybe if you try to have a little buddy sleep-over and try to make it as fun as possible with the resources you have, maybe it would break the ice of some of the little boys.I've learned with my 8 year old daughter to try and make things as fun as possible so they want to come here instead. It also keeps her safer. I hope this ideal works for you and you little one. good luck.