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!