April 05, 2008,
M.Z. asks from Rancho Cucamonga, CA on April 03, 2008
Son "Acting Out" When Friends Come Over
I have a great 4 1/2 y/o son who tends to get all riled up whenever friends come over to visit. Is this common? Just yesterday, we had a play date at our home, and when I went to check on my kid and another little boy in his room, he had COMPLETELY demolished it. I wanted to cry. He never acts like a wild thing when it's just us at home, but he tends to get nutso whenever other kids come over to play. WTH? Anyone?
G.O. answers from Los Angeles on April 04, 2008
My son is now 15 years old and can still now have an attitude when his friends are over. This is usually the only time he will actually talk back to his stepdad. My son is pretty easy going and really a great kid but I remember when his friends would come over, he would really act up. I think this is pretty normal.
S.Z. answers from Reno on April 04, 2008
I don't know what to advise you, but I thought I'd tell you, this is VERY common! Two of my four were/are the same way. Part of it is sheer excitement, and part is fear that their friends won't like them if they say, "We can't do that." I've occasionally had to drive friends home early because I couldn't take my own kid's behavior with them around. Just make sure you remind him, clearly and ahead of the playdate, what the expectations are. Let him know that he won't be able to have friends over if he can't hold it at least a little bit together. Good luck! :)
C.B. answers from Los Angeles on April 04, 2008
Do not be overly concerned with this behavior. I am a mother of four boys ages 9, 7, 6, and 5. Each of them went through this phase that we termed "showing off". Your son is probably so excited to have a friend over he wants to show off everything he owns. My boys would also act out towards the adults present wanting to show them tricks, songs, toys, even things on tv. This will deminish as he grows and continues to have play dates. Our solution was to talk with our sons letting them know what they were allowed to do and not do. Also try having him cleanup his mess after his friends leave, maybe not completely by himself but have hime help you so that he sees the consequences for this behavior. This alone was great in getting the boys to stop pulling every single toy out. Hope this was helpful, hang in there.
J.S. answers from Los Angeles on April 03, 2008
I've found that my son, age 5, can be a quite a show off when friends are around. He gets over excited and wants to be the center of attention. I think kids have a competition thing-my toys are better than yours-thus, pulling out all the toys. I flat out told my son that is he acts crazy and bossy, his friends won't want to come back. Talk to your son about what is expected while friends visit.
Before toys are taken out, go over rules with all the boys, ex. put one toy away before the next is brought out. A child might have different rules at his house and this will help with your boundaries. This may take a couple tries but does work. Have definite pick up time of the playdate so you can alot for clean up time.
T.A. answers from San Diego on April 05, 2008
Kids will be kids and rooms will get demolished. I know, my kids rooms were never the same when friends came over to play. Don't blame it all on your child, he had help. At 4 he is old enough to be taught to clean his room. It may not be to your expectation of clean, but he is learning. So teach him now. He'll start to respect his space and you'll sooner see who is making the real demolition.
J.M. answers from Los Angeles on April 03, 2008
Hi M.: My first thought after reading your request was "Why is she so quick to blame her son for the mess." It makes me wonder,if you were an only child. I come from a large family,and to this day, we are (loyal) to one another.If anyone accused one of my siblings of misdoings,we would all rallie together and defend their honor. I think its vital, that your son feels you and his father are there to back him. At his age, its a little difficult to defend himself..You admitted that your son doesn't normally make a mess, but when he has another child visiting,its demolished.Hmmmm lets see...you think that kid visiting just sat there twiddling his thumbs, while your son went (Beserk)?? I don't think so.... When my sons friends would come over, they pulled out EVERYTHING!! They wanted to check out all the toys they had. I knew who had made the mess, without even asking...My sons had all those tiny leggo toys they out grew and put way up in a box to give away. What? one visiter,and NOW my sons are interested in the leggos again? Don't think so! My oldest got real upset,and said....does that kid have to come over? He ripped everything out of my closet!!Now I have to clean it all up!!Don't be so quick to judge your son. The other kid is company,and while I know you wouldn't scold him with his parents right there, you can tell him, that he is welcome to play with your sons toys...as long as he puts back each toy he brings out.Then check on them periodicaly and get him to pick up a little at a time,because HE KNOWS your not going to ASK HIM to clean up while mommy and daddy are standing there waiting to go home! best of luck
B.P. answers from San Diego on April 04, 2008
Yep, you have a normal 4 year old. My son is in the same phase at 5. It is a form of showing off as this other posters mentioned. I made two changes when this started happening: A little closer supervision and HE has to clean up the mess. We talk about how he should think of his own room like he does his classroom. I ask him how it works at school (or how it worked at preschool). I reiterate that that's how it works at home too. I'm clear that the consequences are not having playdates if it continues. (which would hurt me as much as him ;-) )
This is the time in his life when he gets to learn the wonderful idea of "responsibility". And you are his greatest teacher.
Best of luck. We're still working on it, so be patient, consistent and determined.
L.N. answers from Los Angeles on April 04, 2008
Hi M., this is absolutely normal. My son, now 8, would act up the same way when his friends came over. As the other mothers mention, it's a way to show off and them being excited to have guests at the same time. The friends want to see and play with EVERY toy in the room and our boys want to show off all their neat stuff. What I started doing was laying out the rules once with him alone and then again as soon as his friends would arrive. Told him/them what was off limits and what the consequences would be. I would always remind my son that if his friends wouldn't help clean up before they left, that he would have to do it all by himself (since they were his guests). This way you give him the responsibility of making sure he gets the help when cleaning up. Also, keep a watchful eye while they are together and remind them of the rules when necessary. After a few playdates they'll have the rules down pat. It tends to get better as they get older and as the "newness" of having friends over gets old. Now at 8, my son isn't as wild and the room stays pretty much in tact :)
J.P. answers from Los Angeles on April 04, 2008
Maybe he needs to play in a room where you can hear and supervise better, that way when he starts going crazy you can stop and remind him that is not exceptable behavior. Also talk to him find out why he acts this way. If he doesn't know, then when he takes his friend up to his room follow him 2 to 3 minutes later, stand outside the door and listen in on the conversation without being seen. This way you can figure out what starts this reaction in your son and stop it before it gets out of control. Then take him out of the room and talk to him about it. Then when he goes back to playing check on him again in a few minutes to make sure he is obeying the rules of the talk you just had. A good way to always watch him is to bring in laundry and put it away, bring in his belongings from other rooms of the house, this way he thinks you are just cleaning house and not prying into his business. But small reminders when walking through help the other child to know your rules on this subject too. Like (Okay, this room is getting out of control you need to clean up the room before dragging out another toy to play with) or (you guys have out so many things that there is no more room to play anything else) or (don't get to crazy it is going to take the two of you a long time to but all this mess away).
Make sure he helps in cleaning up the messes he makes or all of it and that this is not acceptable here. If he can't be good when friends come over then he can't have them over. Does he have this problem when he goes to their houses. Because He might not be invited back to some friends.
Good Luck hope these idea's help. J.